Overview: Plagiarism is a serious offense with actual consequences. Recently a professor and a student were banned from publishing in IEEE journals for 5 years due to plagiarism. " Plagiarism occurs when one copies, quotes, paraphrases, or summarizes from any source without adequate documentation. "  In this particular case, the student had copied data and figures from a previously published paper and presented it to his professor as his own work. His professor believed him, added his name to the paper and submitted it to an IEEE Journal. It was only after the paper was published did other readers notice and alert the IEEE to the plagiarism that had occurred. It is interesting to note that even though the professors plagiarism was unintentional, he received the same penalty as the student who had intentionally plagiarized.
In order to avoid unintentional plagiarism (assuming that you are not planning to steal other people's ideas), it is important to take proactive and positive steps. This requires that you not only document as you write but also as you read. In fact, from the time you start your graduate studies, you should start to build a database of references with your comments. In this database you should include enough information to allow you to readily identify a paper and the ideas that you got from the paper.
The reference manager software (free download) described here will help you to build a citation database as you read.
1. Create a text file to hold your database:: The first step is to create a text file to which you will continuously add references along with your comments. I suggest that you name the file index.csv.
The following are the first 4 lines of one of my reference files named index.csv
-dwn-ref-ct : References related to TOF measurement of Charge Transport/Mobility in Conjugated Polymers Compiled by Jonathon White ~Inigo & Fann group InigA01a.pdf;2001;Inigo A.R., Tan C.H., Fann W.S., Huang Y.S., Perng K.Y. & Chen S.A. (2001), Non-dispersive Hole Transport in a Soluble Poly(p-phenylene vinylene), Advanced Materials, 13, 504-508; first observation of non-dispersive transport in MEH-PPV TanCH01a.pdf;2001;Tan CH, Inigo AR, Hsu JH, Fann W, Wei PK, Mesoscale structures in luminescent conjugated polymer thin films studied by near-field scanning optical microscopy, Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids 62 (2001) 1643-1654; describes early stages of NSOM research, no longer useful
2. Convert the Text (CSV) File to HTML:: The second step is to convert the text file to an HTML file. To do this:
In order to help you to organize your reference file, there are a number of special symbols recognized by the program
when used as the first character on a line:
- : (dash) Bold line
~ : (tilda) Italic comment line runs across whole table
! : (exclamation point) No hyperlink for this line.
3. Use the HTML file to access your PDF files:: An example of the first part of the html file produced from the example text file is shown below:
|dwn-ref-ct : References related to TOF measurement of Charge Transport/Mobility in Conjugated Polymers Compiled by Jonathon White||Parent|
|Inigo & Fann group|
|InigA01.pdf||2001||Inigo A.R., Tan C.H., Fann W.S., Huang Y.S., Perng K.Y. & Chen S.A. (2001), Non-dispersive Hole Transport in a Soluble Poly(p-phenylene vinylene), Advanced Materials, 13, 504-508||first observation of non-dispersive transport in MEH-PPV|
|TanCH01.pdf||2001||Tan CH, Inigo AR, Hsu JH, Fann W, Wei PK, Mesoscale structures in luminescent conjugated polymer thin films studied by near-field scanning optical microscopy, Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids 62 (2001) 1643-1654||describes early stages of NSOM research, no longer useful|
 Duke University Libraries, " Citing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism ". Downloaded from http://library.duke.edu/research/plagiarism/ on April 14, 2006
 J D White, Research Communication: EFL for Scientists and Engineers (Taiwan, 2009).