These guidelines are very important. Failure to adhere to them may result in the disciplinary offence of Plagiarism, which is very serious and can lead to your immediately failing the degree, or even summary expulsion from the University. Pay special heed to the warning about plagiarism in the University’s policy statements and guidelines (see URL in the section on Assessment): read these very carefully and make sure that nothing in your work can possibly be construed as plagiarism. Remember that plagiarism can arise if you present the distinctive thoughts or ideas of another person as your own, even if you have changed all of the original words. You must always properly acknowledge the source of anything in your work that is not entirely original.
If you are unsure and require clarification and assistance, please speak to your tutor. You must make yourself fully aware of what might constitute plagiarism in the context of your programme of study. For further information see: www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/academic-services/staff/discipline/plagiarism
Follow the reference and footnote conventions outlined in Russell (1992), or the APA style guide (owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/). Reference ALL material used from other sources, especially direct quotes. Include the page number of the source of the quote in your reference wherever possible. Give clear URLs for all materials accessed from the Web. Do not include material copied directly from any source (e.g. a web page or a book) unless it is essential for you to comment on it; and then always make sure you enclose it in quotation marks, or in some other way clearly identify it as a quotation, and give the source accurately and as precisely as possible. If you are following the structure of someone else’s argument and not your own then you need to reference this fact (e.g. Following Vidler’s (1992) argument on the uncanny we see first that…). Also indicate where you are following someone else’s use of a reference to a text you have not read. For example if Vidler makes an interesting reference to Freud, and you have not read the Freud text, then reference Vidler as the source, not Freud (e.g. According to Vidler (1992), Freud uses the uncanny to…). Provide references for illustrations if you have any. You may also find the classic Elements of Style (Strunk, 1916) useful, if not quaint. Use the UK spelling checker on your wordprocessor. The grammar checker can also be useful. Diagrams, sounds and images must also be attributed, even when digitally manipulated.
Use of the WWW is encouraged, but it is inappropriate to copy and paste text from the web without indicating its status as a quotation and without full attribution to author and URL, since this would count as plagiarism.
Note that inappropriate use of web material can often be detected by the examiners undertaking spot checks on key words and phrases using web search engines and other tools, including specialised plagiarism detection software. Note that making superficial changes to copied material to disguise its origins also constitutes plagiarism and is not allowed. Do not ever take even part of a sentence from somewhere, change a few words, and then include it in your text without attribution as if it were your own: this is plagiarism and will be treated as such if detected.
As work by MSc students is often published on the Internet, issues of copyright are also a major concern. This applies as much, or more, to project work as to essays. It is imperative that all source material external to the course is referenced, and where necessary permission to reproduce is obtained. Students are requested generally not to use visual or sound resources (e.g. images, music, movie clips) from other sources (including the WWW, CDs, DVDs, MP3 sources, etc.), even where these are public-domain libraries, except for critical commentary as permitted under copyright law. There are important educational reasons why we encourage the use of resources generated from within the courses, and copyright is also a crucial consideration in any kind of professional design practice. For information on copyright law in the UK, see www.ipo.gov.uk/types/copy/c-about.htm
There are many tools available to help you keep track of your references and implant them in your documents, bibtex, endnote and zotero for example. The most impressive and fully-featured tool is a Firefox plugin called Zotero. Once enabled in your browser you can collect references from any online library resource, choose the reference style you want to use in your document and then create a consistent and accurately formatted bibliography. Here is an example of how it might be used in MS Word.
We encourage you to explore LaTeX, a very powerful typsetting programme that allows authors to concentrate on writing, rather than the visual look of work. Use of LaTeX often helps students to organise their writing and thinking very clearly. You can download a template to help you to start thinking about LaTeX and preparing your final project: digital.eca.ed.ac.uk/sdhandbook/2013/07/final-project-report-guide-and-latex-tutorial/
Russell, Terence M. 1992. Essays, Reports and Dissertations: Guidance Notes on the Preparation and Presentation of Written Work, Architecture, University of Edinburgh. [Available in the Architecture Library.]
Strunk, William (1918). Elements of Style, Geneva, N.Y.: Press of W.P. Humphrey. [Available on line at www.bartleby.com/141/index.html.]