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Plagiarism and Fake News: The Importance of Citing (and Linking) Your Sources

The birth of the internet was a major milestone in the world of journalism, research, and academia alike. The relatively new method of internet-publishing allowed for many writers and journalists to quickly post their research with very little financial loss, and increased the availability of articles, research, and other writings to the general public. Prior to the creation of the internet, one would have to obtain research through a library, connection, or research facility, all of which offered various obstacles to navigate. The internet circumnavigated these research roadblocks, allowing all network users to access research articles and other written pieces. However, with the construction of the internet and the boom of electronic publishing, the issue of plagiarism and fake news went on the rise.

Thanks to the internet, the publishing of information is no longer a gatekept process. Those who lacked the means to publish their work prior to the creation of the internet now have the means to do so. Unfortunately, this also means that those who seek to post misinformation are able to do so with great ease. In order to counteract the presence of fake news on the internet, it’s important to cite your sources, and include links to the material used if possible. The inclusion of source links within an article ensures the validity of its data. If research data is linked to an untrustworthy website with little reputation, the reader knows to take the data with a grain of salt, and may consider conducting more research on the subject before accepting any claims. On the other hand, if a source is linked to a page  Source links are also important because they provide additional context to the data that one may seek. If a reader is confused about data included within an article, they may simply click on the data’s source link to gain context, instead of searching the data up themselves and potentially stumbling across false information.

Jordan Taylor, a university student pursuing a Master’s degree in Economics, notes the importance of citing one’s sources in an article, research submission, or dissertation.

“If you can link a source available online to your writing, it’s best to do so,” Taylor claimed in a personal interview. “Without identifying a source and making it readily available to your reader, it can be difficult to determine the validity of your research. The internet is filled with misinformation, and linking to the source can provide important background information to the research.”

Citing information and linking it where possible also aids in combating plagiarism. Citing work and research that isn’t your own credits and acknowledges those who conducted the research and produced the results themselves. Avoiding citations and links prevents others from accessing the original data and its producers. Not only is plagiarism unethical, but it is also illegal. Plagiarizing work is intellectual property theft — research stolen and passed off as one’s own. Quotes, restated ideas, paraphrases, and summaries of other materials all need to be cited, since these data are borrowed from other researchers. 


Since there is a plethora of misinformation and unreputable sources on the internet, it is of the utmost importance to cite your sources, and link to them whenever possible. Doing so allows the reader to gain context to cited data, and encourages them to conduct research of their own. By including a hyperlink to the original source within an article, the cited information is readily available to all who wish to view it. The original source may be examined for validity simply by clicking on the link, preventing the reader from stumbling upon potential misinformation by attempting to research the data themselves. In order to maintain credibility as a writer, researcher, or journalist, primary sources must be included within an article — and made accessible through links whenever possible.

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