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Unisa's Partner Public Libraries: Ethical Use of Information

This guides provides information and resources relevant to the Unisa Public Partner Libraries who serve Unisa students as well as members in their community

Ethical use of Information

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Using information ethically for written assignments and research is extremely important.  The ethical use of information does not only reflect a person's integrity, but it is also mandated by law.  

Unethical use of information is referred to as "plagiarism" and may be prevented by citing sources. 

This section is not an extensive look into all areas of the ethical use of information, but will provide an overview and help ensure that written assignments and research conform to the current standards of using information ethically. 

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, plagiarism is "... an act of copying the ideas and words of another person without giving credit to that person."

The infographic below illustrates the various types of plagiarism.

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The following resources may be useful to help you understand and curb plagiarism and to use information ethically:

It is important to know the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism and where they overlap. 

The following sites explain the distinction:

Researchers need to be aware of the concept of self-plagiarism and self-citation  and how to avoid it.

The following sites may be useful:

The following are selected free resources to check for plagiarism:

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It's important to cite sources you used in your research for several reasons:

  • To show your reader you've done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information
  • To be a responsible scholar by giving credit to other researchers and acknowledging their ideas
  • To avoid plagiarism by quoting words and ideas used by other authors
  • To allow your reader to track down the sources you used by citing them accurately in your paper by way of footnotes, a bibliography or reference list.

The following resources provide more details on citing sources:

"Free" Citation Management Tools

Below is a selection of "free" citation management tools.




Definitions from

citation is a way of disclosing within the main body, that the quote, image, chat statistics are taken from an outside sources

References is a list which contains all the sources which have been sought or cited while writing the article or assignment.

Bibliography is a list of the sources that you have used for your paper, whether they are directly cited or not