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Ethical Aspects of Information Research

What is ethical research?

  • Acknowledging your sources.
  • Respecting rights of authorship.
  • Responsible use of information and resources.

What is academic dishonesty?

  • Fraud, such as alteration of grades or official records, changing of exam solutions. 
    after the fact, invention or change of laboratory data, or falsifying research.
  • Misrepresentation of the research and writing of another as one's own, as well as plagiarism and not citing your sources.
  • Use of purchased term papers.
  • Submission of research performed by another person.
  • Inaccurately or inadequately citing sources (such as in papers, project work, theses 
    or dissertations, and publications).
  • The representation of the contribution of others in a project as one's own work.
  • Infringing upon the right of other students to fair and equal access to any University 
    library materials and comparable or related academic resources. This may include theft, mutilation, or unreasonably delayed responses when materials are requested by others.
  • Attempting deliberately to prevent other users access to Framingham State University's computer system, to deprive them of resources, degrade system performance, or copying or destroying files or programs without consent.

Academic Honesty Policy and Framingham State University

  • Appropriately citing all published and unpublished sources in all of the students written, oral, and artistic work is mandatory. Failing to do this can be constituted as plagiarism and is academically dishonest as well as illegal.
  • For more information on the College's policy for academic honesty see the Framingham State College Undergraduate Catalogue.

Consequences of academic dishonesty and unethical research practices.

  • Loss of or lowering of grades for a course or project.
  • Expulsion from institution.
  • Hearing against the dishonest party in either a college or local court.
  • Taking someone's ideas or expressions and passing them off as you own in your writing without citing the source is plagiarism.  This constitutes intellectual theft and can carry severe penalties such as the failure of a course or expulsion.
  • You may use another person's thoughts or ideas in your research, but they must not seem to be your own ideas.
  • If you paraphrase, use ideas, information, or quote from a source, you must properly cite that source, thus acknowledging the original author's work.
  • Common knowledge such as, Henry VIII was the King of England does not have to be cited. If you have any doubts about your material however, it is better to cite it.

How do I cite other people's research?

  • Manuals of style give information on how to properly create bibliographies and footnotes.
  • A bibliography is the complete list of books and articles that you use when researching 
    and writing your paper. It usually is located at the end of the paper. Look at the Bibliography at the end of this document.
  • Footnotes are utilized to cite specific ideas or quotes within the body of the paper and 
    refer to specific pages in the work cited. Footnotes are located at the bottom of each page or cumulatively at the back of the paper before the bibliography. For example: 1. Champa, Kermit Swiler. Studies in Early Impressionism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973.

Ways to Manage Research

  • Organize and arrange your research notes by bibliographic citation.
  • Do not forget to keep track of page numbers.
  • There are different manuals of style for specific disciplines, but you should consult your professor concerning which style they prefer.
  • In the humanities style manuals include: The MLA Handbook (published by The Modern Language Association), The Chicago Manual of Style, and A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate Turabian.
  • In the social sciences the main style book is: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA style)
  • For the life sciences there is: Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (Council of Biology Editors)

Plagiarism and the Web

  • Ideas or information acquired from a Web Site needs to be cited appropriately in the same manner as that found in a book or a journal. Citing electronic sources should be included in all current manuals of style.
  • Cutting and pasting material from Web Sites into text files without citing the information is plagiarism.
  • Procuring a paper from a paper mill Web Site is plagiarism as well.
  • For more information on academic integrity you may consult http://www.academicintegrity.org/ 
    (The Center of Academic Integrity Kenan Ethics Program, Duke University)

Internet Ethics and Netiquette

  • Definition- Behavioral norms and rules that apply to or infringe upon Internet access.
  • Examples of infringement include- a. obscenity on the Web
  • Sending offensive material to others
  • Mounting pornographic wallpaper on public PC's
  • Mounting personal, private, or restricted information to the Web or bulletin board.
  • Harassing others, utilizing abusive language or defamation of character through email  communication.
  • Deliberate posting of misinformation on the web.

Intellectual property

  • In contrast to real estate and physical property, intellectual property refers to originally created works by an author. Rules (like citing your sources) applying to work found on the Internet are the same as those found in printed sources.
  • A "Copyright" offers protection for original works of authorship. Copyright protection 
    affords the author of a copyrighted work with specific rights that the author can give 
    or sell to others or keep for him/herself.
  • Copyright protection exists for original works of authorship that involve some minimal level of creativity.
  • The work must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression so that it can be perceived,
    reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine/device.
  • Works of authorship include: (1) literary works; (2) musical works; (3) dramatic works; 
    (4) pantomimes and choreographic works; (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; 
    (6) motion pictures and other audio-visual works; and (7) sound recordings.
  • All of these mediums of authorship are protected by copyright whether reproduced on the Internet or in print format.
  • For more detailed information on copyright issues see the U.S. Copyright Office of the 
    Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ1.html

Intellectual Freedom and the Internet

  • Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.
  • It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of 
    a question, cause or movement may be explored.
  • Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.
  • Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons-individuals, groups or government officials-find objectionable or dangerous.
  • Censorship occurs when expressive materials, like books, magazines, films, videos, or works of art, are removed or kept from public access.
  • Individuals and pressure groups identify materials to which they object. Censorship 
    also occurs when materials are restricted to particular audiences, based on their age or other characteristics.
  • Intellectual freedom is a right on the Internet as well as in printed materials.
  • As with printed materials, censorship on the Internet is a very controversial topic. Filtering software also act as censors of digital information on the Internet.
  • For more information on Intellectual Freedom and Censorship please see the 
    American Library Association's site on this:  http://www.ala.org/alaorg/oif/intellectualfreedomandcensorship.html


Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1999.

Vernon, Robert F, Shirley Bigna, and Marshall L. Smith. "Plagiarism and the Web."
Journal of Social Work Education 37.1 (2001): 193-196.

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