Science Fair Research Paper Citations

At a minimum, teachers and officials who supervise student research projects should ensure that students give proper attribution to their sources.This will avoid the development of bad habits that may be troublesome in college.Researched writing is a critical component of successfully engaging in a variety of academic disciplines, and it is particularly important in science (Yore et al. Documentation, synthesis, and appropriate citation are integral to the writing process in the sciences, where source material must be accurately presented to allow for future replication of experimental design (Harwood 2009; Hauptman 2008).

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2004; Sheard, Dick, Markham, Mc Donald & Walsh 2002; Yeo 2007).

Most plagiarism studies rely on survey methods asking students and/or faculty to recognize instances of plagiarism in examples.

How much instruction or mentoring the students received in the writing of their research reports was not known, but, regardless of the level of instruction, students were likely to infer that their citation strategies were adequate given that they won awards for their projects.

When students enter college with an inadequate understanding of proper source citation they often struggle to meet the expectations of collegiate level research.

Regional science fair projects were selected for this investigation because they are presented at the school level and evaluated by teachers and judges before being presented at a regional science fair (Society for Science & the Public 2008; Savannah River Site 2012) providing ample opportunity for remediation.

In addition, all of the projects at the regional science fairs sampled won awards at the school level (Society for Science & the Public 2008).Much of this confusion likely stems from high school, either from lack of or inconsistent instruction across classes.To determine the extent of plagiarism issues in middle and high school student science papers, the authors surveyed student research reports to evaluate their use of in-text and reference page citations.Plagiarism is a recognized problem at high school science fairs.According to the hosts of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, (Society for Science & the Public 2012b) plagiarism is one of the most common reasons for disqualification from the international fair.The authors also expected most of the papers to have reference pages but fewer to have adequate citations within the text.Finally, there was hope the findings would reflect improvement in appropriate citation usage from sixth to twelfth grade.These concerns are featured prominently in both the American Association of School Librarians and Association for College and Research Libraries Standards and Framework Documents (AASL 2007; ACRL 2015).While an emphasis on proper documentation is shared widely across grade levels in the United States, it has also been found that most college students only completed one research-based assignment in high school, most frequently in their English class, and struggled to bring a variety of research skills to other disciplines in higher education settings (Head 2013). Writing has also been recognized as instrumental to learning science and increasing scientific literacy (Glynn & Muth 2006).Michelle Vieyra Associate Professor of Biology [email protected] Weaver Associate Professor of Library Science and Library Instruction Coordinator [email protected] of South Carolina Aiken Aiken, South Carolina Plagiarism is a commonly cited problem in higher education, especially in scientific writing and assignments for science courses.Students may not intentionally plagiarize, but may instead be confused about what proper source attribution entails.


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