Quoting and paraphrasing sources is one of the fundamental tasks all students, researchers, academics and writers in general have to do almost daily. Sources give authority to our ideas, orient and give substance to research, and guide our arguments. Sources can be something we agree with or argue against, with various degrees of conviction and strength. Some authors can provide us with ideas that inspire us, help us understand concepts and gain knowledge on specific subject matter, or can irritate us with writing we disagree with, we consider inadequate or of poor quality, or entirely miss the point we would make instead. And this is ok.

What is not ok, however, is dealing with sources incorrectly. This includes, for example, not referencing authors, quoting their work inaccurately (that is non verbatim, word-by-word), misunderstanding their point or making them say things that they are not saying at all. These are some of the common mistakes that students make, especially at the beginning of their academic path, mostly because of a limited understanding of academic requirements and writing methodology, rush, or plain laziness.

Examples of this include:

1. A copy-and-paste approach to sources, without attribution. This means either – literally – including text from other sources without acknowledging the author (this is undue appropriation) or including such text without using quotation marks (.

2. Paraphrasing that is not really paraphrasing, that is rewording only part part of the text from one of your source or using only synonyms for certain words but essentially keeping the general structure or appearance of the text in the source.

Whether such mistakes are intentional or not, they can cost dearly, with outcomes including accusations of academic dishonesty or plagiarism. The consequence of these scenarios include significant penalties in your marks, straight fails, obligations to rewrite your work entirely and attend academic integrity training courses. Suspension or expulsion may occur in the most serious cases, but are not uncommon. In other words, this is serious stuff.

While it is true copying text from electronic sources (PDFs, Docx, Html, Txt) is surely a time-saving task that everyone should master and use, it is also important, when doing so, to ensure that your sources are adequately referenced, your sourced text is appropriately formatted and authorship is acknowledged according to the formatting and referencing requirements set out by your university and/or course outlineon your formatting requirements.

Gaining a solid methodology and understanding of referencing and research keeps you safe from issues like these. This however takes time, effort and universities are often ill-equipped when it comes to providing students with literacy-development assistance. We made it our mission, at Postgrade, to help you develop a personalised and effective skillset that will guide you through your studies and make academic writing a breeze.

Get in touch with us to know more and we will be happy to work with you! 🙂

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