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Author's Toolkit: A Guide to Thesis Preparation

A guide to dissertation preparation for the Einstein Graduate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences

Introduction

Research writing involves gathering and using information from a variety of resources and incorporating it into your own writing. This adds credibility and authority to your work provided you credit the author(s) and are selective in choosing your sources.

Many students fail to realize that they risk being charged with plagiarism even if they were not intentionally dishonest but only ignorant or careless. This happens whenever you use someone else's work without giving them credit. You can avoid being accused of plagiarism if you follow some essential rules for citing your sources.

Rules To Follow

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Office of Research Integrity (ORI) provides a detailed guide entitled Avoiding Plagiarism, Self-Plagiarism, and other Questionable Writing Practices: A Guide to Ethical Writing.

Here are some additional basic guidelines:

  • Three ways to use others’ work: summarize, paraphrase or quote.
  • Always cite a source for an idea that is not your own, i.e., the idea belongs to a specific person and is relatively new.
  • Cite anything you use even if the material is freely available on the Web since it was created by someone else.
  • Summarize when you only need the general point.
  • Do not paraphrase too closely. If your words and phrasing match those of your source, you can be accused of plagiarism.
  • Do not quote long passages.
  • Identify every quotation even if it is only a single line of words.
  • Use quotation marks or block quotations to show that you have copied text. (See specific rules in the Graduate Division's Academic Policies and Guidelines.)
  • Acknowledge any special or extensive editing from instructors or others reviewing your dissertation.

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

A quick guide from the University of Wisconsin Writing Center

Einstein's Policy on Plagiarism

As stated in the Graduate Division's Academic Policies and Guidelines,

Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. All documents prepared as part of a student’s academic or research activities must be free of plagiarism. This includes but is not limited to written examinations in classes, Qualifying Exam proposals, thesis proposals, fellowship applications, manuscripts, reports to the Advisory Committee and Academic Affairs Committee, and the PhD thesis.

For in-class or take-home examinations in graduate courses, unless otherwise clearly stated in the instructions for the particular examination, it is fully expected that the student will work alone and without any assistance from other students or sources.

Copyright Awareness

When you incorporate the work of others into your thesis you must secure permission from the copyright holder. You may also need to obtain permission to republish any of your own previously published work. Librarians can assist you in determining how to obtain the required permissions.

Copyright law is complex and extensive. Here are a few resources to make it easier to ensure compliance.

Style Guides in the Library

As stated in the Graduate Division's Academic Policies and Guidelines, those style requirements not covered by the Thesis Guidelines should: "follow the recommendations of your Department. The style selected should be adhered to strictly and consistently. If no style is preferred by the Department, the Manual for Writers of Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian, University of Chicago Press, should be used."