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How to Properly Credit Others

RUTH DOUGLAS MILLER'S WEBPAGE ON HOW TO:

CREDIT PROPERLY THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF OTHERS.

The IEEE calls on all its members to hold ourselves to its Code of Ethics.  In particular for written and oral work turned in or presented in my classes, code point #7 is most relevant:

We, the members of the IEEE, in recognition of the importance of our technologies in affecting the quality of life throughout the world, and in accepting a personal obligation to our profession, its members and the communities we serve, do hereby commit ourselves to the highest ethical and professional conduct and agree:

... TO SEEK, ACCEPT, AND OFFER HONEST CRITICISM OF TECHNICAL WORK, TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND CORRECT ERRORS, AND TO CREDIT PROPERLY THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF OTHERS.

I have prepared the information on this page to help you understand my expectations and to avoid repeating myself.  My expectations for all written and oral work in all my classes is the same and is detailed below.  If anything is unclear, links don't work or you have any other questions, please contact me.
 

Definitions of Terms

Expectations for Oral Presentations

Expectations for Written Work


Definitions

  • Citation: the attribution of idea(s) to another.  In most text, this is mention of the author, date and page number of the source idea, usually set off with brackets or parentheses: (Miller, 1999, p.6.) or a number refering to a reference list: [1]. The latter format is required for work in my classes.  The citation is found in the main text of the paper or presentation.
  • Reference: a complete source listing (author, title, date and page number(s)) of a source of idea(s) in a paper or presentation.  In written work, references may be placed in footnotes or in a "List of References" or "List of Works Cited" at the end of the document.  The latter format is required in work for my classes.  In presentations, a reference list slide at the end is appropriate, and figures and direct quotes should have references included on the same slide.
  • Bibliography: a list of sources relevant to the present work.  The sources may or may not be cited in the text or presentation.  This list is typically found at the end of a paper, when it is included at all.  It might be titlted "Bibliography" or "To Read Further" or the like.  I do not require bibliographies except occasionally for proposals.

Oral Presentations

Sources that you used in preparing your presentation should be cited, usually on a slide at the end of your presentation.
A direct quote on a slide should be set off by quotation marks and accompanied by a complete reference on the same page.
Any figures and tables included in presented material must be accompanied, on the same page and adjacent to the figure, by a complete reference to the figure's source, including page number. 

Examples:

  • from a book: "Figure taken from Paul, C.R., Electromagnetics for Engineers, J Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2004, p.82."
  • from a journal or magazine: "Figure from Engl., D., "Quality of life impact of public policies for energy and telecommunications," IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine,  vol 23, #1, 2004, p.46."
  • from a website: "Figure from IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology, "IEEE Code of Ethics,"http://radburn.rutgers.edu/andrews/projects/ssit/ethics.html, last modified 11 Aug 2002."
  • if you redrew or modified the picture, the reference may read, "Figure modified from..."  or "Figure redrawn from..."
  • If the figure is entirely your own (not inspired by any other figure), or so basic as to be common knowledge (points in a Cartesian coordinate system, definition of angles and the like) then of course it need not have any source cited.
  • if a table is copied from another source: "Table from..."
  • if you take data presented in one form (narrative, table, graph) and rework it into a different form, "Table data from..." or "Graph data from..."

Note that:

  1. Enough information is provided in the reference for the audience to locate the exact source, to the page.
  2. Book and journal titles are underlined or italicised, article titles are placed in quotes.
  3. Webpages are identified as to author if available, host organization at least, and a date is given.  If "last modified" is not available when you select "View Page Info" from the "View" menu, give the date you last accessed the page.

Written Work: Papers

The very simple rule I expect you to follow is: "any information which is not common knowledge among your peers must be accompanied by a reference to a source."  Besides technical information this can include statistics and others' opinions or positions.  Failure to cite references in the paper body will result in a '0' on the paper: this is plagiarism, or stealing others' ideas and presenting them as your own.  Citations must be placed in the text in such a way that it is clear to the reader which information is covered by a citation.  Typically this means following an introductory or topic sentence to a paragraph.  Often, if a citation is placed at the end of a paragraph it is unclear whether the cited source supplied all the information in the paragraph or only the last sentence.  It is very rare that one citation can be assumed to cover information in more than one consecutive paragraph.  It is not sufficient to include a list of references and place no citations within the text body.

For figures and tables follow the directives above on oral presentations.  You must also mention the figure or table in the text, explaining to the reader why it is present and what information you intend to convey from the figure or table.

If you make direct quotes, you MUST set them off from the rest of the text with quotation marks or indentation, and accompany them immediately preceding or following with a citation.  It is not sufficient to say, "As Miller says, '....'."  citation number to a complete reference is necessary.

DON'T:

  • Place a citation in a heading!
  • Assume that mentioning the author's name is sufficient citation
  • Assume that including a list of sources at the end of the paper is sufficient attribution

DO:

 

  • Use the IEEE standard format for citing and referencing sources.  The linked document is a pdf file; the relevant information is sections IV-D and E, pages 6-7.  It would be a good idea to print at least portions of this file and save them for reference throughout your engineering career.  Citation format is different for each different journal, editor or boss, but all work for me must use the IEEE standard format.
  • Cite multiple sources for a single idea if appropriate
  • Use quotation marks around direct quotes, with a citation at the beginning or end of the quotation.
  • Set off long quotes by indenting them, if you wish.

 

Last modified 1 April, 2008 by Ruth Douglas Miller