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Education Research Tutorial

Step-by-step guide to conducting research in education

Avoiding Plagiarism

Most students know that plagiarism (passing off another person’s work as your own) is a form of academic dishonesty and is strictly prohibited.  It is possible, however, for an individual to be unintentionally guilty of plagiarizing-- by using another individual’s work without attributing the work to the original author or by changing another’s work only minimally.  It is important to understand what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it.  Consult the helpful information about avoiding plagiarism from Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab and the useful explanation of the differences between plagiarism and paraphrasing, prepared by UCM’s Writing Center.


Evaluating Resources

Factors to Consider in Evaluating Resources


In the process of gathering research materials, you will probably locate resources in various formats, including books, articles, and websites. Not everything you find, however, will be suitable or trustworthy. It's natural to experience information overload.  Today we're bombarded with so much information, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

Remember that it's important to evaluate your sources by considering the following factors:  

  • Accuracy of information
  • Authorship - who wrote it?
  • Publisher or sponsor
  • Objectivity or bias
  • Currency (date)
  • Verifiability
  • Referral to other sources
  • Depth of coverage (in-depth or superficial)

 Critically Analyzing Information Sources by Cornell University Library

Evaluating Sources: Overview by the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue

Citing Your Sources

Writing a research paper involves building your argument by using existing literature that pertains to your topic. In order to avoid plagiarism, you must cite your sources and acknowledge other authors’ ideas that you are using in your paper. There are several style manuals and guides that describe how to cite books, articles, and other resources.  The most commonly used style manual in the social sciences is from the American Psychological Association.  The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and other style manuals and citation resources are listed below.   

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers many free resources including style guides, information about the writing process, and tips on avoiding plagiarism. Visit the OWL at

Style Manuals and Citation Resources:

APA Style Guide from OWL

APA Style Home Page

Chicago Style Guide from OWL

Chicago Manual of Style Online

MLA Style Guide from OWL

MLA Style Home Page

Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)

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Alice Ruleman
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