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Almost no one wants to plagiarize when they are writing. But sometimes people plagiarize by accident when they are first learning how to write in college. To avoid plagiarizing you need to learn how to incorporate some writing techniques into your research and writing process. These techniques include:
Copyright law applies to nearly all creative and intellectual works.
A wide and diverse range of materials are protectable under copyright law. Books, journals, photographs, art, music, sound recordings, computer programs, websites, and many other materials are within the reach of copyright law. Also protectable are motion pictures, dance choreography, and architecture. If you can see it, read it, hear it, or watch it, chances are it is protectable by copyright law.
Works are protected automatically, without copyright notice or registration.
These many different works are protected under copyright if they are "original works of authorship" that are "fixed in any tangible medium of expression." In other words, once you create an original work, and fix it on paper, in clay, or on the drive of your computer, the work receives instant and automatic copyright protection. The law today does not require placing a notice of copyright on the work or registering the work with the U.S. Copyright Office. The law provides some important benefits if you do use the notice or register the work, but you are the copyright owner even without these formalities.
Copyright protection lasts for many decades.
The basic term of protection for works created today is for the life of the author, plus seventy years. In the case of "works made for hire", copyright lasts for the lesser of either 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation of the work. The rules for works created before 1978 are altogether different, and foreign works often receive distinctive treatment. Not only is the duration of copyright long, but the rules are fantastically complicated.
Works in the public domain.
Some works lack copyright protection, and they are freely available for use without the limits and conditions of copyright law. Copyrights eventually expire, and the works enter the public domain. Works produced by the U.S. government are not copyrightable. Copyright also does not protect facts, ideas, discoveries, and methods.
Used under a Creative Commons BY-NC license from the Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University, Kenneth D. Crews, director.
Reviewing the information on a topic means exploring sources, finding relevant articles, books and reports, reading them, and then organizing the issues with and approaches to your topic.
You start by searching appropriate databases including GoogleScholar (Google will be much too broad). You use databases focused on your discipline to save time and to be sure you get at the majority of the information. Check the list of selected databases on this page.
Take an important paper on a species or topic and use Web of Science to find newer papers that cite that paper. This can help you to find more recent work on similar themes. You could use the species account as a starting point in this type of search, or better yet, use a clearly important paper cited in the species account. You can also do this in GoogleScholar, but the results may not be as comprehensive. Here are the steps.
Tracking Who Cited a Paper:
- Go to Web of Science.
- Click on the tab at the top of the screen: Cited Reference Search.
- Fill in the boxes (Author, Journal TItle and Year) and click on the Search Button.
- From the list of hits, check the box with the article you want to use. (Hint: There may be more than one hit for your article, so select them all.)
- Click on Finish Search. This will give you a list of all of the articles citing your original article.
- Email, download or browse the list.
Select a recent paper and use Web of Science to link to all papers referenced by that paper, in case the species account missed something important or you want to discuss research on a similar species that is relevant to your topic. Here are the steps.
Finding What Articles a Paper Cited:
- Go to Web of Science.
- Using the paper you have selected, type in the author's last name, date of the article and any other information you have.
- Click on the Search Button.
- Click on the title you want from the list of hits.
- Look closely for References: and click on the number.
- Email, download or browse the list or references. You can also click on any of them for more information.
Citation styles vary widely by journal. Check the journal's website to see if they provide citation instructions under a section typically called "instructions for authors." If you can't find this information on the website, use the references section of the journal article you want to model your references after as an example. Pay particular attention to the order they place the information in, whether or not they use italics or bold, how they abbreviate journal titles, and how they use punctuation.
Here are links to the citation guidelines for several journals used in Fisheries and Wildlife.
Did you know there are free tools available to help you automatically format your bibliographies and organize all those articles, books and websites you find?
The library has specialists on these free web tools, regular workshops about them, and help guides to get you started.
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