The official standard goes like this: The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses information ethically and legally.
But what does this all mean in the real world. Well, for beginning researchers, it centers on the following:
- Plagiarism. While most plagiarism is unintentional, coming from unskilled writing rather than conscious cheating, it is still stealing someone’s ideas and/or words without giving proper credit. One of the first skills, the researcher should learn is how to quote, paraphrase, and summarize properly. This includes learning the proper citation format (MLA or APA for most of the assignments here at NSCC).
- Copyright. Probably the simplest way of putting it is that people own the expression of their ideas. Therefore, copying an entire book violates copyright. Downloading a movie or music without permission violates copyright. It is worth your while to become acquainted with the fair use of copyrighted materials for academic purposes.
- Netiquette. We might never yell at an instructor in class, but sometimes email seems like a totally different animal. Using email to send information should be done in an appropriate form. Think of it as a memo to your instructor, not like a quick text to a pal.
With information so easily accessible on the web and so easily transferred to another form, we may forget that copyright and ownership issues still apply. So be a good web citizen and use information both legally and ethically.