As wonderful as it is, the Internet is not the be-all and end-all of your research. A college-level term paper that uses only the Internet for information will probably not cover its subject adequately, and thus will not receive a high grade. There are several reasons for this. For one, the Internet tends to cover subjects more superficially than the printed literature, without the depth and context provided by a book. Most Internet sources also lack explicit citations to other sources for reference; such citation is an important part of articles found in professional journals and is one of the ways in which scholarly accountability is maintained.
Another important reason that the Internet should not be the primary information source for a term paper is the considerable variation in the quality of information available on the Internet. This variation is due to the Internet's lack of a standard for information quality. Printed, or "hardcopy," literature has a built-in safeguard to promote high quality information -- peer-review. Peer-review means that the editor of the article or book has sent the manuscript to authorities in the subject matter (people like your professors). These reviewers evaluate the manuscript and reach a general consensus that the work meets the required standards. Reviewers cannot advise an editor to reject a manuscript simply because they might disagree with it. They can advise to reject it if there are flaws in the way in which the subject was investigated, if there are major internal inconsistencies, if the manuscript does not adequately deal with important counter arguments, or if the existing literature is not adequately referenced. Reviewers commonly off...
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...re, because that implies the words are your own.
If you find a particularly elegant or useful phrase in the literature, it can be included in the term paper provided the phrase is within quotation marks and its source is cited. Larger textual passages should be indented, but this is very unusual in science articles (it is more common in the humanities and social sciences), and is generally discouraged in scientific writing.
Plagiarism can be avoided by reading the source material and taking notes and NEVER copying word for word. This must also apply to the Internet. Never cut and paste from a source into your term paper. As an added disincentive to cut and paste from the Internet, remember that, should your professor suspect that a phrase is not your own, the Internet could be easily searched for that phrase. Plagiarism from the Internet is very easy to catch!
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