As with most things, when using information we have an obligation to use it responsibly. When using information, we are obligated to recognize its value, both monetary and scholarly.
As we mentioned earlier, not all information is free. FNU pays subscription fees for most all of the library resources. Besides paying fees, the university also signs agreements with information vendors limiting whom we give access to the resource. These restrictions are why students must login when accessing library resources. Why isn’t everything available for free? The act of publishing content can be very expensive, and those involved in that process need revenue to continue. Meanwhile, as we discussed in Module 5, there is plenty of valuable and reliable information available for free. Much of this information is published by the government, and subsidized with taxpayer money, in the interest of having an informed citizenry. Other sites are produced by nonprofit agencies that may not make a profit, but do have operating budgets through donations and the like.
An important concept in using information ethically is copyright. Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. It can apply to both published and unpublished works (United States Copyright Office, 2009), such as literary works, music, photographs, movies, software, etc. (Electronic Frontier Foundation [EFF], n.d.-a). The law generally gives the author, creator, or owner of the work the exclusive right to reproduce, copy, distribute, display or perform the work. The copyright owner is also the only one allowed to create new works based on the original (e.g. making a movie based on a book) (EFF, n.d.-a). For example, the School must request and receive permission from copyright owners to post articles in the course readings, because that is distribution of a work. Likewise, anyone showing a movie for public viewing must also receive permission to do so. Some copyrighted works are allowed to be used without permission through the doctrine of fair use. Fair use allows portions of a work to be used for commentary, parody, news reporting, research, and education (United States Copyright Office, 2009). What constitutes fair use is often nebulous, though. Courts look at four factors to determine if a use is fair:
Fair use is decided on a case-by-case basis, using these factors as guidelines. Often courts are interested in whether or not the individual using the work has acted in good faith (EFF, n.d.-b).
Another exception to copyright restrictions is works that are considered to be in the public domain. These works can be used freely by anyone, without express permission from the copyright owner. Public domain works are either designated as such or are no longer covered by copyright law because the copyright status has expired or been forfeited (EFF, n.d.-a).
Plagiarism is another important concept to be aware of when using information. Plagiarism is “copying or closely imitating the work of another writer, composer, etc., without permission and with the intention of passing the results off as original work” (Reitz, 2007). Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. The FNU Honor Code Policy states:
Plagiarism is the representation of another person’s ideas or writing as one’s own. The most obvious form of this kind of dishonesty is the presentation of another person’s ideas as something one has written. Paraphrasing another’s writing without proper acknowledgment may also be considered plagiarism. (Frontier Nursing University [FNU], p. 84)
FNU further defines plagiarism in the Plagiarism Definition section of the catalog:
Plagiarism and breaches of academic standards are infractions of academic integrity, prohibited by the FNU Honor Code. Plagiarism includes:
- Submitting a paper, examination, or assignment written by another.
- Word-for-word copying (including cutting and pasting) portions of another’s writing from the World Wide Web, from hard copy text, from personal communication, without enclosing the copied passage in quotation marks and acknowledging the source in the appropriate APA reference format.
- The use of a unique term or concept taken from another source without acknowledging that source.
- The paraphrasing or abbreviated restating of someone else’s ideas without acknowledging that person.
- Changing a few words in someone else’s sentence does not make it your own, even if the reference is provided at the end of the sentence. Either use quotes or synthesize the information and write your own completely new sentence with appropriate referencing.
- Falsely citing a reference that was never actually consulted, or making up a citation. Functioning web links in assignments are important for this reason.
- Falsely reporting data that was never actually collected or which showed contrary results.
- Unacknowledged multiple authors or collaboration on a project or paper.
(FNU, p. 91)
Watch this short video created by William Badke on how to recognize plagiarism and get it out of your life:
You might be wondering what the difference is between plagiarism and copyright. They both address the legality and legitimacy of copying or using someone else’s work, but they are different. Plagiarism protects ideas, but copyright protects the “fixed expression of ideas” (EFF, n.d.-a). As mentioned in the video, plagiarism is the act of misrepresentation and can be avoided by properly citing your sources. Copyright, on the other hand, is a legal concept, and merely citing the source does not absolve you of copyright infringement (EFF, n.d.-a). Stated permission from the copyright owner is the only way to avoid infringement.
Since citing sources is the way to avoid plagiarizing, learning and using a documentation style is very important. Traditionally, nursing has always used APA style for its literature. The American Psychological Association established this style for its publications and nursing and other social and behavioral sciences have adopted it as their standard as well. The rules and guidelines for this style are published in The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, now in its seventh edition (American Psychological Association, 2020). This manual will instruct you and give examples on all aspects of formatting a paper in this style, including using in text citations and creating a reference list. You will probably be required to purchase this manual as part of your coursework and it is one book you do not want to lose.
Let's look at a citation to get familiar with the elements that you need to properly cite a resource. Below is an example of a journal article, which is one of the most common types of sources you will need to know how to reference and cite.
Remember that whenever you use a resource for a paper, you will need to make note of these elements for constructing your reference list.
American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000
Electronic Frontier Foundation. (n.d.-a) Copyright frequently asked questions. In teaching copyright. http://www.teachingcopyright.org/handout/copyright-faq
Electronic Frontier Foundation. (n.d.-b) Fair use frequently asked questions. In teaching copyright. http://www.teachingcopyright.org/handout/fair-use-faq
Frontier Nursing University. (2020, Fall). Frontier Nursing University Catalog.
LIONTV: Library Information Literacy Online Network. [1LIONTV]. (2012, March 16). A tutorial on plagiarism [Video file]. https://youtu.be/g2XzJsQ0-OU
Reitz, J.M. (2007). ODLIS – Online dictionary for library and information science. http://www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/odlis_A.aspx
United States Copyright Office. (2009). Frequently asked questions about copyright. http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/
Indiana University School of Education Instructional Systems Technology Department. (2005). How to recognize plagiarism. https://www.indiana.edu/~istd/
Procter, M. (n.d.) How not to plagiarize. http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/using-sources/how-not-to-plagiarize