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Conducting a Literature Review

This guide will help you understand what is a Literature Review, why it is important and how it is done.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Official ACPHS policy on academic integrity defines plagiarism as "The deliberate attempt to give the reader the impression that the work, words or ideas of others are the author’s own, without appropriate reference to the original source," and the consequences can be as severe as failing the assignment, failing the course, or even being suspended or expelled from school. It is important that you avoid the common types of plagiarism, defined by the college as the following:

  • Copying, from any source (other students, faculty, electronic or print publications) information word for-word without using quotation marks, even if the source is referenced in the text or in the works cited page
  • Paraphrasing or summarizing another author’s ideas or research without giving proper credit
  • Submitting a paper or other assignment as original work for more than one course
  • Using someone else’s production (e.g. writing, artwork, photograph, multimedia, video) without proper citation
  • Giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation

Accidental plagiarism is still a violation of academic integrity, so making sure you properly cite all of your evidence every time it's used is essential. This will be a skill that you'll carry beyond this assignment or even your college career.

From professional endeavors to artistic pursuits, even unintentional plagiarism can put a halt to a lot of progress. Below are some recommendations on how to avoid plagiarism in your own writing.

  • Know the difference between quoting and paraphrasing, and how to do both.
  • Know what citation style your paper should be written in, and how to use it.
  • Make sure to cite media such as videos and images as well as text.
  • Manage and organize your sources so you can easily cite them.
  • When in doubt, reach out: your instructor, the Writing Center, and the ACPHS librarians are all happy to help you properly cite and use resources.

Manage your Sources

One of the keys to avoiding plagiarism is managing your sources properly. If you can easily identify where each piece of evidence used in your writing came from and pinpoint the major citation requirements (author's name, year published, etc.), citing the source while writing will be a piece of cake. 

A helpful way to keep track of all your sources is to write your References or Works Cited page before you begin the rest of your essay, or even during the outlining process; this way, you'll have a list of all the important information and won't have to go through each individual source while writing. Since in-text citations refer directly to the entry in the References page, having this page already available is a valuable first step, rather than leaving it to the end and potentially missing a source. 

In addition, if you cite the evidence used in your outline before even writing the paper, you will already have the citations ready to copy-and-paste directly into your literature review, which can both save time and help prevent plagiarism.

Some scholars find printing out their sources and making notes in the margins is the easiest way to manage them, because they can physically flip through and see which source had which knowledge; others are more comfortable keeping their sources downloaded onto their computer, where they can do the same thing but electronically. Regardless, make sure you have a way to determine what information in your outline came from what source, and how to cite that source in your essay.

There are third-party source managers that can help as well. These range from completely free to fully paid, and may be online or require you to download software onto your computer. The Illinois University Library provides a useful comparison of the four most popular citation managers: Zotero, Calibre, Mendeley, and EndNote (which we'll discuss immediately after the below quote): 

Free:

  • Zotero: Zotero is a citation manager designed to store, manage, and cite bibliographic references, such as books and articles. It can be downloaded as a browser extension to Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. You can also download Zotero Standalone to your desktop.
  • Calibre: Calibre is a free and open source e-book computer software application that organizes, saves, and manages e-books. Calibre is available for Windows, OSX, and Linux and can sync with a variety of popular e-book readers. It can also convert online content sources, including news articles, into e-books.

Free with paid option:

  • Mendeley: Mendeley is a desktop and web program for managing and sharing research papers, discovering research data, and collaborating online. It combines Mendeley Desktop, a PDF and reference management application (available for Windows, Mac and Linux) with Mendeley Web, an online social network for researchers. Mendeley is available as a basic free version, and also in premium commercial versions.

EndNote Basic is available online for free to ACPHS users through Web of Science.  Click the EndNote link under Products left side of search screen.

Microsoft Word also has a Source Manager option that can be useful if you are using Word for your literature review. Instructions on how to use the Source Manager can be found here.