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Sample Ethical Statement for Students
Words are very powerful. Therefore, it is important to use them truthfully, accurately, and responsibly. Statements should be accurate both in terms of how information is managed and how it is credited.
Ethical management of information requires accurate presentation. That is, being factual is not enough. It is possible to alter results by presenting truthful but incomplete data that will skew the findings being reported. Ethical writing requires that, with access to the same information and knowledge, others may reasonably come to reach the same conclusions as the writer.
A second ethical consideration involves crediting information that you acquired from other sources. Citations are a systematic way of avoiding plagiarism--claiming another's work as your own. MichaelsonHow to Write and Publish Engineering Papers and Reports
Summarizes the problem from a professional perspective this way: "Any attempt to pass off another's published work as your own or to assume credit for another's ideas is a gross violation of professional ethics." Citations also provide crucial information for those trying to use, replicate, or extend your research.
How to Write and Publish Engineering Papers and Reports. 3rd ed., Phoenix: Oryx, 1990, 194
Citing Sources in Communication
Plagiarism needs to be avoided in writing and in speaking as well.
Sometimes writers are uncertain about what to cite. Here are two firm guidelines:
Use research procedures as your guideline: Who or what is the original source that another researcher should contact to clarify information appearing in your writing? Are you the original source? If not, cite the source for future researchers, and to avoid claiming information that does not belong to you. Keep in mind that agreeing with the material does not make it your own; if it originated with someone else, give that person credit as you would expect to receive credit for your work. Follow scrupulously the citation instructions your instructor provides.
Various disciplines have specific ways to cite or document sources in writing. Over your college career you might reasonably be asked to use several. College English handbooks will include information about the Modern Language Association (MLA) style, which is used in the languages and many of the humanities. Most also include the American Psychological Association (APA) style, which is used widely in the social sciences. Discuss with your instructor documentation preferences and make the effort to use the suggested form accurately. When you narrow your studies to a specific major, learn the system used in your field.
By incorporating your sources effectively, you will avoid plagiarism while adding credibility to your speech. Peter J. Bicak suggests these strategies to incorporate sources:
Cite direct quotations.
To use someone else's language without giving credit to the speaker or writer is to commit plagiarism. That is intellectual theft.
Help the reader understand the expertise of those whom you quote. An easy way to establish your expert's credibility is to cite the person's name and then identify in an appositive their relevance to the point that you are trying to make.
Effective: Zimba Ploy, school board president, questioned the need for curriculum revision.
Be accurate as you cite your source. Take care not to extract portions of quotations in ways that will change the meaning of the original. Take special care to summarize statistics accurately. To do less is to cheat.
Bicak, Peter J. "Source Citation," Handbook of Speaker-Audience Communication. Ed. Mary Lee Hummert and Karla K. Jensen. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1992. 31-34.