Be aware of intellectual theft when writing a PhD paper

What is intellectual theft? Very simply put it is theft of ideas and creations, such as inventions, literature, music, art, words, and designs. So, when you’re writing a PhD paper there are two key aspects you need to be aware of:

  1. To ensure you aren’t accused of intellectual theft of someone else’s Intellectual property.
  2. To put measures in place, to ensure that your own work is safe from intellectual theft.
  1. Other people’s intellectual property. There are various things you can do as a PhD student to ensure that you respect and properly acknowledge other people’s intellectual property. The key to this will be concise and accurate referencing. Any time you quote someone’s words directly, if it’s a short quote use quote marks and accurately reference with the author name, title or book or journal article, the publisher, place published, year published and the page reference. Also the reference needs to appear in your bibliography. If it’s a long quote indent it. Try to avoid paraphrasing people’s work, but if you do, this still needs thoroughly referencing. You will most likely be required to sign some sort of plagiarism declaration form, or statement at the front of your dissertation stating that the work is your own. There are guidelines as to how much of a book you can photocopy, or reproduce in another work, ask the help of a librarian if you’re unsure. Always go directly to a source wherever possible, and don’t just use someone else’s references.
  2. Keeping your own work safe from intellectual theft. There are various laws in place that could be employed to keep your own work safe, depending on your subject area. These can include: copyright, trademarks, patents and industrial design rights. Most dissertation theses will have a bound copy kept in the institutions library and may be put on an electronic portal, but there will be a copyright/plagiarism statement attached to it, whereby any user has to acknowledge use of your work. Electronic plagiarism detectors are more prevalent in most institutions nowadays, so this will prevent someone copying large chunks of your electronic PhD dissertation; it would immediately be picked up by a plagiarism detector such as ‘Turnitin’. If your work is scientific and you’re concerned that someone may publish similar findings before you and invalidate your work, often scientific publications allow you to publish early versions of a paper, so that you can publish your findings/research, then update this at a later stage. It allows you to date and time stamp your idea. If you submit work to a journal, you can also set up a citation-tracker, to see how many times and where your work has been cited.

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