Insufficient Citation or Documentation
Inadequate or insufficient citation of sources in an academic research paper is plagiarism. There is a short section in the Longman Handbook pp. 633-638 on this that you can consult. As the Longman Handbook points out:
In general you need to document the words, ideas, and information you draw from another person's work. Bear in mind the two most important reasons for documenting sources: (1) to add support to your conclusions and credibility to your explanations by showing they're based on careful research and (2) to acknowledge another person's hard work.. . .
YOU MUST DOCUMENT
· Word-for-word (direct quotations) taken from someone else's work.
· Paraphrases or summaries of someone else's work, whether published or presented more informally in an interview or email message.
· Ideas, opinions, and interpretations that others have developed and presented, even if they are based on common knowledge.
· Facts or data that someone else has gathered or identified if the information is not widely known enough to be considered common knowledge.
· Information that is not widely accepted or is disputed.
· Illustrations, charts, graphs, photographs, recordings, original software, performances, interviews, and the like.
BUT DO NOT DOCUMENT
· Ideas, opinions, and interpretations that are your own.
· Widely known ideas and information - the sort you can locate in common reference works or that people writing or speaking on a topic usually present as common knowledge.
· Commonly used quotations ("To be, or not to be").. . .
When you include quotations, paraphrases, and summaries in your writing, you must acknowledge their sources. If you don't you are treating someone else's work as your own.
· Be sure you enclose someone else's exact words in quotation marks.
· Make sure that paraphrases and summaries are in your own words.
· Be sure to cite the source of any ideas or information that you quote, paraphrase, or summarize. (Longman, 2000, p. 634).
Longman then gives examples of how a paraphrase can be "too close to the original to be presented without quotation marks and would be considered plagiarized" and how it is plagiarism to only make minor changes in some phrases and "lift" others verbatim (pp.634-5).
In other words, in academic research papers any ideas and facts that come from others must always be cited unless they are common knowledge or your personal knowledge. Citation is how you credit other people's work and allows others to check the information contained in the paper. This is required even if you are not quoting someone directly by using quotation marks. This operates on the sentence level which means there should be a citation after most factual sentences unless, a) it is a matter of common knowledge e.g., "The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, and Thomas Jefferson later became President of the United States;" or b) it is a matter of your own personal experience or personal knowledge e.g., "I did the chemistry experiment and got these results."
Lets look at a couple of examples of common sources of general background information that still need citation. If you are gaining basic factual information from an encyclopedia or website you must cite the encyclopedia or website as a source. The fact that something is in a general encyclopedia or website does not make it "common knowledge." Biographical information about an extremely famous person may in some circumstances be a borderline situation for citation but remember the rule stated above that you must cite "facts or data that someone else has gathered or identified if the information is not widely known enough to be considered common knowledge." It is easy enough to cite your sources by beginning a paragraph with something like: "According to the Encyclopedia Britannica (2000), Rembrandt was born in . . ., etc." or "According to the Famous Artist Website (2000), Rembrandt was born in . . ."
It is always better to over cite your sources of information rather than to under cite your sources. Err on the side of citation. Not citing sources is considered plagiarism. Some Professors consider using any more than two consecutive words from a source without using quotation marks as plagiarism. That is not to say that they want to see a string of quotations, but they probably do expect to see citations after most factual sentences. The consequences of being perceived to be a plagiarist are rather unpleasant and includes being reported to a scholastic dishonesty committee for possible expulsion from the University.
Let's look at a few examples of sentences that need citations even though they are not direct quotations from a source. Since the facts in these sentences are probably not general or common knowledge to most people (and are obviously not from the author's personal experience or personal knowledge), they came from some source that was not being cited. The failure to put a citation at the end of the sentence would be an example of insufficient citation and therefore plagiarism. Unless you are born with the knowledge, or it happened to you personally, you need to cite your sources.
1. The Franco-Prussian war ended in a peace treaty in 1873.
2. Joseph Stalin died in his sleep in bed in 1953.
3. John Jones was born in 1743, married Margaret Werner in 1764, and had three children.
4. The effect of MAO inhibitors on the brain is to reduce seratonin levels and dopamine levels, etc.
It could be argued that if a paper with these facts was written by a history professor for other history professors however, these facts would be common knowledge within their field and at their level of expertise.
To summarize, unless it is common knowledge or personal knowledge you must cite the source of your facts or ideas.