Friday, December 30, 2011

Research or Plagiarism?

Is it research or plagiarism?
Nancy Sanders in her book,
Yes!  You Can Build a Successful Writing Career, says:
"The general rule of thumb is to use three resources for each fact you state in your manuscript. 
A rule to remember is:  If you just use one source, it's called plagiarism.  If you use three sources, it's called research."
Do check out her blog, called Blogzone. There's a link to it on her website! It's full of good advice -- currently she's doing a series about internet marketing.

Another nonfiction writer reminded me that even three sources can be reporting the same erroneous fact. She advises people to research deeper, as close to primary sources as possible -- and avoid using quotes from sources of questionable reliability, like Wikipedia.

1 comment:

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

One-source research is plagiarism only if you use the author's exact words without quotation marks or attribution.

One-source research just is not research!

The individual who advised using sources as close to the original as possible has the right idea. Indeed, non-original sources (what we genealogists call derivative sources) can very easily perpetuate the same error, especially if two of them have used the other source as their source.

But research is not just quotation and attribution, either. It has to involve analysis and a supportable conclusion based on the evidence.

Happy New Year, Wendy!