Scientific Method Steps:

  • The scientific method is a way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments.
  • The steps of the scientific method are to:
    • Ask a Question
    • Do Background Research
    • Construct a Hypothesis
    • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
    • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
    • Communicate Your Results
  • It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. A "fair test" occurs when you change only one factor (variable) and keep all other conditions the same.Steps of the Scientific Method

Overview of the Scientific Method

The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to explore observations and answer questions. Scientists use the scientific method to search for cause and effect relationships in nature. In other words, they design an experiment so that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable way.

Just as it does for a professional scientist, the scientific method will help you to focus your science fair project question, construct a hypothesis, design, execute, and evaluate your experiment.

Steps of the Scientific Method

Detailed Help for Each Step

Ask a Question:The scientific method starts when you ask a question about something that you observe: How, What, When, Who, Which, Why, or Where?

And, in order for the scientific method to answer the question it must be about something that you can measure, preferably with a number.

Your Question

Do Background Research:Rather than starting from scratch in putting together a plan for answering your question, you want to be a savvy scientist using library and Internet research to help you find the best way to do things and insure that you don't repeat mistakes from the past.

Background Research Plan
Finding Information
Research Paper

Construct a Hypothesis:A hypothesis is an educated guess about how things work:
"If _____[I do this]_____, then _____[this]_____ will happen."

You must state your hypothesis in a way that you can easily measure, and of course, your hypothesis should be constructed in a way to help you answer your original question.

Variables for Beginners

Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment:Your experiment tests whether your hypothesis is supported or not. It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. You conduct a fair test by making sure that you change only one factor at a time while keeping all other conditions the same.

You should also repeat your experiments several times to make sure that the first results weren't just an accident.

Experimental Procedure
Materials List
Conducting an Experiment

Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion:Once your experiment is complete, you collect your measurements and analyze them to see if they support your hypothesis or not.

Scientists often find that their hypothesis was not supported, and in such cases they will construct a new hypothesis based on the information they learned during their experiment. This starts the entire process of the scientific method over again. Even if they find that their hypothesis was supported, they may want to test it again in a new way.

Data Analysis & Graphs

Communicate Your Results:To complete your science fair project you will communicate your results to others in a final report and/or a display board. Professional scientists do almost exactly the same thing by publishing their final report in a scientific journal or by presenting their results on a poster at a scientific meeting. In a science fair, judges are interested in your findings regardless of whether or not they support your original hypothesis.

Final Report
Display Board
Science Fair Judging

Even though we show the scientific method as a series of steps, keep in mind that new information or thinking might cause a scientist to back up and repeat steps at any point during the process. A process like the scientific method that involves such backing up and repeating is called an iterative process.

Throughout the process of doing your science fair project, you should keep a journal containing all of your important ideas and information. This journal is called a laboratory notebook.

1.Your Question:

  • Once you find a general topic that interests you, write down the question that you want to answer. A scientific question usually starts with: How, What, When, Who, Which, Why, or Where. For example, if you are interested in robots, your question might be "How much current does a robot's arm use to lift a weight?"
  • Can you design a fair test to answer your question? A "fair test" requires that you change only one factor (variable) and keep all other conditions the same. If you cannot design a fair test, then you should change your question.
  • Your science fair project question should involve factors or traits that you can easily measure using a number. Or, factors or traits that are easily identified, like colors.

2.Background research�Plan:

Background research is necessary so that you know how to design and understand your experiment. To make a background research plan— a roadmap of the research questions you need to answer — follow these steps:

  1. Identify the keywords in the question for your science fair project. Brainstorm additional keywords and concepts.
  2. Use a table with the "question words" (why, how, who, what, when, where) to generate research questions from your keywords. For example:

What�is the difference between a series and parallel circuit?
When�does a plant grow the most, during the day or night?
Where�is the focal point of a lens?
How�does a java applet work?
Does�a truss make a bridge stronger?
Why�are moths attracted to light?
Which�cleaning products kill the most bacteria?

Throw out irrelevant questions.

  1. Add to your background research plan a list of mathematical formulas or equations (if any) that you will need to describe the results of your experiment.
  2. You should also plan to do background research on the history of similar experiments or inventions.
  3. Network with other people with more experience than yourself: your mentors, parents, and teachers. Ask them: "What science concepts should I study to better understand my science fair project?" and "What area of science covers my project?" Better yet, ask even more specific questions.

3.Finding Information:

Most teachers will require you to find at least three sources of information.

How to find information:

a. Find and read the general information contained in an encyclopedia, dictionary, or textbook for each of your keywords.

b.Use the bibliographies and sources in everything you read to find additional sources of information.

c. Search periodical indexes at your local library.

d. Search the Internet to get information from an organization, society or online database.

e. Broaden your search by adding words to your search phrases in search engines. Narrow your search by subtracting words from or simplifying your search phrases.

When you find information, evaluate if it is good information:

Good References

Bad References

Come from a credible source

Come from a source with poor credibility

Not too old

Out of date

Not biased

Not objective and fair, biased towards one point of view

Free of errors

Prone to errors

Properly cite the original source of all information

Do not cite where the information came from

Easy for other people to find or obtain

Difficult for others to obtain

Questions on Arrow SIgns - Who What Where When Why How

4. Bibliography:

  • Make a list to keep track of ALL the books, magazines, and websites you read as you follow your background research plan. Later this list of sources will become your bibliography.
  • Most teachers want you to have at least three written sources of information.
  • Write down, photocopy, or print the following information for each source you find. You can use the Science Buddies Bibliography Worksheet to help you.

Collect this information for each printed source:

Collect this information for each Web Site:

  • author name
  • title of the publication (and the title of the article if it's a magazine or encyclopedia)
  • date of publication
  • the place of publication of a book
  • the publishing company of a book
  • the volume number of a magazine or printed encyclopedia
  • the page number(s)
  • author and editor names (if available)
  • title of the page (if available)
  • the company or organization who posted the webpage
  • the Web address for the page (called a URL)
  • the last date you looked at the page

  • The bibliographic information for different types of resources are located in different places, so you may need to do some detective work to get all of the information for your bibliography. Try looking in these places:
    • the title page of a book, encyclopedia or dictionary
    • the heading of an article
    • the front, second, or editorial page of the newspaper
    • the contents page of a journal or magazine
    • the header (at the top) or footer (at the bottom) of a Web site
    • the About or the Contact page of a Web site
  • When it is time to turn in your Bibliography, type all of your sources into a list. Use the examples in MLA Format Examples or APA Format Examples as a template to insure that each source is formatted correctly.
  • List the sources in alphabetical order using the author's last name. If a source has more than one author, alphabetize using the first one. If an author is unknown, alphabetize that source using the title instead.

5.Research Paper

  • As you do your research, follow your background research plan and take notes from your sources of information. These notes will help you write a better summary. 
  • The purpose of your research paper is to give you the information to understand why your experiment turns out the way it does. The research paper should include:
    • The history of similar experiments or inventions
    • Definitions of all important words and concepts that describe your experiment
    • Answers to all your background research plan questions
    • Mathematical formulas, if any, that you will need to describe the results of your experiment
  • For every fact or picture in your research paper you should follow it with a citation telling the reader where you found the information. A citation is just the name of the author and the date of the publication placed in parentheses like this: (Author, date). This is called a reference citation when using APA format and parenthetical reference when using the MLA format. Its purpose is to document a source briefly, clearly, and accurately.
  • If you copy text from one of your sources, then place it in quotation marks in addition to following it with a citation. Be sure you understand and avoid plagiarism! Do not copy another person's work and call it your own. Always give credit where credit is due!
  • Most teachers want a research paper to have these sections, in order:
  • Title page (with the title of your project, your name, and the date)
  • Your report
  • Bibliography
  • Check with your teacher for additional requirements such as page numbers and a table of contents


Scientists use an experiment to search forcause and effect relationships in nature. In other words, they design an experiment so that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable way.

These changing quantities are called variables. A variable is any factor, trait, or condition that can exist in differing amounts or types. An experiment usually has three kinds of variables: independent, dependent, and controlled.

Thei ndependent variable is the one that is changed by the scientist. To ensure a fair test, a good experiment has only one independent variable. As the scientist changes the independent variable, he or she observes what happens.

 The scientist focuses his or her observations on the dependent variable to see how it responds to the change made to the independent variable. The new value of the dependent variable is caused by and depends on the value of the independent variable.

 For example, if you open a faucet (the independent variable), the quantity of water flowing (dependent variable) changes in response--you observe that the water flow increases. The number of dependent variables in an experiment varies, but there is often more than one.

 Experiments also have controlled variables. Controlled variables are quantities that a scientist wants to remain constant, and he must observe them as carefully as the dependent variables. For example, if we want to measure how much water flow increases when we open a faucet, it is important to make sure that the water pressure (the controlled variable) is held constant. That's because both the water pressure and the opening of a faucet have an impact on how much water flows. If we change both of them at the same time, we can't be sure how much of the change in water flow is because of the faucet opening and how much because of the water pressure. In other words, it would not be a fair test. Most experiments have more than one controlled variable. Some people refer to controlled variables as "constant variables."

 In a good experiment, the scientist must be able to measure the values for each variable. Weight or mass is an example of a variable that is very easy to measure. However, imagine trying to do an experiment where one of the variables is love. There is no such thing as a "love-meter." You might have a belief that someone is in love, but you cannot really be sure, and you would probably have friends that don't agree with you. So, love is not measurable in a scientific sense; therefore, it would be a poor variable to use in an experiment.

7.Variables for Beginners:

It is important for an experiment to be a fair test. You conduct a fair test by making sure that you change one factor at a time while keeping all other conditions the same.

For example, let's imagine that we want to measure which is the fastest toy car to coast down a sloping ramp. If we gently release the first car, but give the second car a push start, did we do a fair test of which car was fastest? No! We gave the second car an unfair advantage by pushing it to start. That's not a fair test! The only thing that should change between the two tests is the car; we should start them down the ramp in exactly the same way.

Let's pretend we're doing an experiment to see if fertilizer makes a plant grow to be larger than a plant that doesn't receive fertilizer. We put seeds of the same kind in three pots with fertilizer and rich soil. But, we run out of soil so we put the seeds without fertilizer in three pots filled with sand. We put all six pots in the same location and water each one with the same amount of water every other day. The plants with soil and fertilizer grow to be much larger than the ones grown in sand without fertilizer. Is that a fair test of whether fertilizer makes a plant grow to be larger? No! We changed two things (type of soil and fertilizer) so we have no idea whether the plants with fertilizer grew to be larger because of the fertilizer or whether the other plants were stunted by being grown in sand. It wasn't a fair test! All of the plants should have been in the same kind of soil.

Conducting a fair test is one of the most important ingredients of doing good, scientifically valuable experiments. To insure that your experiment is a fair test, you must change only one factor at a time while keeping all other conditions the same.

Scientists call the changing factors in an experiment variables

8. Hypothesis:

  • A hypothesis is an educated guess about how things work.
  • Most of the time a hypothesis is written like this: "If _____[I do this] _____, then _____[this]_____ will happen." (Fill in the blanks with the appropriate information from your own experiment.)
  • Your hypothesis should be something that you can actually test, what's called a testable hypothesis. In other words, you need to be able to measure both "what you do" and "what will happen.

9. Experimental Procedure:

  • Write the experimental procedure like a step-by-step recipe for your science experiment. A good procedure is so detailed and complete that it lets someone else duplicate your experiment exactly!
  • Repeating a science experiment is an important step to verify that your results are consistent and not just an accident.
    • For a typical experiment, you should plan to repeat it at least three times (more is better).
    • If you are doing something like growing plants, then you should do the experiment on at least three plants in separate pots (that's the same as doing the experiment three times).
    • If you are doing an experiment that involves testing or surveying different groups, you won't need to repeat the experiment three times, but you will need to test or survey a sufficient number of participants to insure that your results are reliable. You will almost always need many more than three participants!

10. Materials List:

hat type of supplies and equipment will you need to complete your science fair project? By making a complete list ahead of time, you can make sure that you have everything on hand when you need it. Some items may take time to obtain, so making a materials list in advance represents good planning!

A Good Materials List Is Very Specific

A Bad Materials List

500 ml of de-ionized water


Stopwatch with 0.1 sec accuracy


AA alkaline battery


11. Conducting an Experiment:

  • If you haven't already, obtain a notebook to record all of your observations during your experiment.
  • Before starting your experiment, prepare a data table so you can quickly write down your measurements as you observe them.
  • Follow your experimental procedure exactly. If you need to make changes in the procedure (which often happens), write down the changes exactly as you made them.
  • Be consistent, careful, and accurate when you take your measurements. Numerical measurements are best.
  • Take pictures of your experiment for use on your display board if you can.

12. Data analysis and Graph:

  • Review your data. Try to look at the results of your experiment with a critical eye. Ask yourself these questions:
    • Is it complete, or did you forget something?
    • Do you need to collect more data?
    • Did you make any mistakes?
  • Calculate an average for the different trials of your experiment, if appropriate.
  • Make sure to clearly label all tables and graphs. And, include the units of measurement (volts, inches, grams, etc.).
  • Place your independent variable on the x-axis of your graph and the dependent variable on the y-axis.

13. Conclusions:

Your conclusions summarize how your results support or contradict your original hypothesis:

  • Summarize your science fair project results in a few sentences and use this summary to support your conclusion. Include key facts from your background research to help explain your results as needed.
  • State whether your results support or contradict your hypothesis. (Engineering & programming projects should state whether they met their design criteria.)
  • If appropriate, state the relationship between the independent and dependent variable.
  • Summarize and evaluate your experimental procedure, making comments about its success and effectiveness.
  • Suggest changes in the experimental procedure (or design) and/or possibilities for further study.

14. Final Report:

At this point, you are in the home stretch. Except for writing the abstract, preparing your science fair project final report will just entail pulling together the information you have already collected into one large document.

  • Your final report will include these sections:
    • Title page.
    • Abstract. An abstract is an abbreviated version of your final report.
    • Table of contents.
    • Questionvariables, and hypothesis.
    • Background research. This is the Research paper you wrote before you started your experiment.
    • Materials list.
    • Experimental procedure.
    • Data analysis and discussion. This section is a summary of what you found out in your experiment, focusing on your observations, data table, and graph(s), which should be included at this location in the report.
    • Conclusions.
    • Ideas for future research. Some science fairs want you to discuss what additional research you might want to do based on what you learned.
    • Acknowledgments. This is your opportunity to thank anyone who helped you with your science fair project, from a single individual to a company or government agency.
    • Bibliography.
  • Write the abstract section last, even though it will be one of the first sections of your final report.
  • Your final report will be several pages long, but don't be overwhelmed! Most of the sections are made up of information that you have already written. Gather up the information for each section and type it in a word processor if you haven't already.
  • Save your document often! You do not want to work hard getting something written the perfect way, only to have your computer crash and the information lost. Frequent file saving could save you a lot of trouble!
  • Remember to do a spelling and grammar check in your word processor. Also, have a few people proof read your final report. They may have some helpful comments

15. Abstract:

An abstract is an abbreviated version of your science fair project final report. For most science fairs it is limited to a maximum of 250 words (check the rules for your competition). The science fair project abstract appears at the beginning of the report as well as on your display board.

Almost all scientists and engineers agree that an abstract should have the following five pieces:

  • Introduction. This is where you describe the purpose for doing your science fair project or invention. Why should anyone care about the work you did? You have to tell them why. Did you explain something that should cause people to change the way they go about their daily business? If you made an invention or developed a new procedure how is it better, faster, or cheaper than what is already out there?Motivate the reader to finish the abstract and read the entire paper or display board.
  • Problem Statement. Identify the problem you solved or the hypothesis you investigated.
  • Procedures. What was your approach for investigating the problem? Don't go into detail about materials unless they were critical to your success. Do describe the most important variables if you have room.
  • Results. What answer did you obtain? Be specific and use numbers to describe your results. Do not use vague terms like "most" or "some."
  • Conclusions. State what your science fair project or invention contributes to the area you worked in. Did you meet your objectives? For an engineering project state whether you met your design criteria.

Things to Avoid

  • Avoid jargon or any technical terms that most readers won't understand.
  • Avoid abbreviations or acronyms that are not commonly understood unless you describe what they mean.
  • Abstracts do not have a bibliography or citations.
  • Abstracts do not contain tables or graphs.
  • For most science fairs, the abstract must focus on the previous 12 months' research (or less), and give only minimal reference to any earlier work.
  • If you are working with a scientist or mentor, your abstract should only include procedures done by you, and you should not put acknowledgements to anyone in your abstract.

Why Is an Abstract Important?

Your science fair project abstract lets people quickly determine if they want to read the entire report. Consequently, at least ten times as many people will read your abstract as any other part of your work. It's like an advertisement for what you've done. If you want judges and the public to be excited about your science fair project, then write an exciting, engaging abstract!

Since an abstract is so short, each section is usually only one or two sentences long. Consequently, every word is important to conveying your message. If a word is boring or vague, refer to a thesaurus and find a better one! If a word is not adding something important, cut it! But, even with the abstract's brief length, don't be afraid to reinforce a key point by stating it in more than one way or referring to it in more than one section.

How to Meet the Word Limit

Most authors agree that it is harder to write a short description of something than a long one. Here's a tip: for your first draft, don't be overly concerned about the length. Just make sure you include all the key information. Then take your draft and start crossing out words, phrases, and sentences that are less important than others. Look for places where you can combine sentences in ways that shorten the total length. Put it aside for a while, then come back and re-read your draft. With a fresh eye, you'll probably find new places to cut. Before you know it you will have a tightly written abstract.

  • The most serious and common error involves plagiarism-- not citing the source of materials taken. Your own thoughts are yours; common knowledge (facts generally known to all) are not cited. But any quote, paraphrase or piece of source (summary) must be cited.
  • If you may choose your research topic, be careful about choosing one too broad or narrow, too controversial (nothing factual to base your work on), related to personal belief alone (nothing to research), or so recent that there is no substantive writing on it published yet.
  • Plan for enough time to complete this project. Any how-to article claiming you can write a paper in a day or week, or without any drafts, is simply wrong, unless you plan to cheat.
  • Find a work space where you can arrange, organize and maintain all your notes, sources, and drafts until the paper is finished.
  • A research paper is NOT simply a collection of quotes. It is your point of view of a topic supported by the work of others.
  • It's easy to go to the internet and search for material. It's much harder to determine if it's useful, relevant, and needed. It's also hard to smoothly add that material to your own writing. Read sample papers for guidance.
  • Do remember that your teacher or university can also find the sources (or whole papers) you claim to use on the internet. You deserve to fail if you simply buy or lift someone else's paper.
  • The farther your topic is from the modern day, the harder it will be to locate sources. Therefore research on any aspect of history will force you to rely on the work of professional historians, unless you have access to the British Library or Library of Congress (many but not all of their materials are found online), or other national repository.
  • The hardest parts of doing research are: choosing the scope of a topic, locating useful sources, choosing what source material to incorporate, and following the required format.
  • Find a good handbook or writing guide to help you with how to handle the details of quotes and paraphrases (taking out bits, adding bits, etc.); these include use of brackets and ellipsis.

 Submitting for publication

You have come to the end of a long journey. The study was conceived, planned, executed, analyzed and reports have been written. You have spent a significant amount of time writing your reports in a typical journal manuscript format  . Now it is time to select a journal and submit your manuscript for publication. It is only through publication that you will be able to help change or improve the way orthopedic surgery is performed today. Whether your results are what you expected or wanted, publishing is very important. Avoid the temptation to not submit results that are negative or counter to your hypothesis. This is known as publication bias.

Before submitting for publication, it is important to have your peers review your manuscript. In fact, it is not a bad idea to have multiple people review it as you develop it. For example, you may want to have your methods section reviewed before you write up the results. Changes in your methods section will undoubtedly affect the way you report the results. Expect this process to be lengthy. Time spent having your colleagues review your paper is time saved when you submit it to a journal. It may even be the difference between acceptance and rejection. An important point to make along these lines: if you are asking colleagues to review your manuscripts (whether they are co-authors or not), be sure to return the favor.

The following are some important principles that you should consider when submitting your manuscript for publications:

1. Select a journal that is most appropriate for the audience you want to reach.

  • This may be intuitive to you if you are comfortable with the literature.
  • You may want to look at past journals tables of contents and visit the website of specific journals to determine their mission and interests.

2. Consider writing to the editor of one or more journals to determine whether or not they are interested in publishing your topic.

  • This is not a requirement and you may not get an answer; however, it doesn’t hurt to try and may save you some time in the long run.

3. Make sure that you adhere strictly to the guidelines of formatting and submission of the selected journal.

  • Every journal is different. Sometimes the differences are obvious and other times subtle.
  • Print the guidelines from the website and use it as a checklist. Go over it several times.

4. If rejected, don’t be discouraged.

  • Your clinical question may not meet the interests or needs of the journal you are submitting to. In these cases, it doesn’t matter how good your manuscript is.
  • If you are not given the opportunity to re-submit, accept this decision and move on to another journal.

5. Expect criticism and improve your paper accordingly.

  • No manuscript is returned without criticism and editing.
  • It is not uncommon to receive lots of criticism and even be asked to re-analyze your data a different way.
  • Be objective, talk to colleagues, and decide if the criticisms are warranted. Most of the time they are. Try and appease the reviewer; however, don’t compromise the intent of your study.

6. Don’t be afraid to argue your case.

  • It is not uncommon for a reviewer to misinterpret or misunderstand your findings. After all, they are humans too.
  • If you feel this has happened, just respond with a clear and concise explanation. You may need to augment your argument with more data or slight adjustments to your manuscript for clarification.

7. Persevere and be patient.

  • The time that elapses from when you submit your manuscript to when it is actually printed may be several months.
  • Consider this part of the process and continue on with more research



Code of EthicsPreamble

The preservation of the highest standards of integrity and ethical principles is vital to the responsible discharge of obligations by speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. This Code of Ethics sets forth the fundamental principles and rules considered essential to this purpose.


Every individual who is (a) a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, whether certified or not, (b) a nonmember holding the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the Association, (c) an applicant for membership or certification, or (d) a Clinical Fellow seeking to fulfill standards for certification shall abide by this Code of Ethics.


Any violation of the spirit and purpose of this Code shall be considered unethical. Failure to specify any particular responsibility or practice in this Code of Ethics shall not be construed as denial of the existence of such responsibilities or practices.


The fundamentals of ethical conduct are described by Principles of Ethics and by Rules of Ethics as they relate to the responsibility to persons served, the public, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists, and to the conduct of research and scholarly activities.


Principles of Ethics, aspirational and inspirational in nature, form the underlying moral basis for the Code of Ethics. Individuals shall observe these principles as affirmative obligations under all conditions of professional activity.


Rules of Ethics are specific statements of minimally acceptable professional conduct or of prohibitions and are applicable to all individuals.

Principle of Ethics I

Individuals shall honor their responsibility to hold paramount the welfare of persons they serve professionally or who are participants in research and scholarly activities, and they shall treat animals involved in research in a humane manner.

Rules of Ethics

Individuals shall provide all services competently.

Individuals shall use every resource, including referral when appropriate, to ensure that high-quality service is provided.


Individuals shall not discriminate in the delivery of professional services or the conduct of research and scholarly activities on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, gender identity/gender expression, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.


Individuals shall not misrepresent the credentials of assistants, technicians, support personnel, students, Clinical Fellows, or any others under their supervision, and they shall inform those they serve professionally of the name and professional credentials of persons providing services.


Individuals who hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence shall not delegate tasks that require the unique skills, knowledge, and judgment that are within the scope of their profession to assistants, technicians, support personnel, or any nonprofessionals over whom they have supervisory responsibility.


Individuals who hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence may delegate tasks related to provision of clinical services to assistants, technicians, support personnel, or any other persons only if those services are appropriately supervised, realizing that the responsibility for client welfare remains with the certified individual.


Individuals who hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence may delegate tasks related to provision of clinical services that require the unique skills, knowledge, and judgment that are within the scope of practice of their profession to students only if those services are appropriately supervised. The responsibility for client welfare remains with the certified individual.


Individuals shall fully inform the persons they serve of the nature and possible effects of services rendered and products dispensed, and they shall inform participants in research about the possible effects of their participation in research conducted.


Individuals shall evaluate the effectiveness of services rendered and of products dispensed, and they shall provide services or dispense products only when benefit can reasonably be expected.


Individuals shall not guarantee the results of any treatment or procedure, directly or by implication; however, they may make a reasonable statement of prognosis.


Individuals shall not provide clinical services solely by correspondence.


Individuals may practice by telecommunication (e.g., telehealth/e-health), where not prohibited by law.


Individuals shall adequately maintain and appropriately secure records of professional services rendered, research and scholarly activities conducted, and products dispensed, and they shall allow access to these records only when authorized or when required by law.


Individuals shall not reveal, without authorization, any professional or personal information about identified persons served professionally or identified participants involved in research and scholarly activities unless doing so is necessary to protect the welfare of the person or of the community or is otherwise required by law.


Individuals shall not charge for services not rendered, nor shall they misrepresent services rendered, products dispensed, or research and scholarly activities conducted.


Individuals shall enroll and include persons as participants in research or teaching demonstrations only if their participation is voluntary, without coercion, and with their informed consent.


Individuals whose professional services are adversely affected by substance abuse or other health-related conditions shall seek professional assistance and, where appropriate, withdraw from the affected areas of practice.


Individuals shall not discontinue service to those they are serving without providing reasonable notice.



Principle of Ethics II

Individuals shall honor their responsibility to achieve and maintain the highest level of professional competence and performance.

Rules of Ethics

Individuals shall engage in only those aspects of the professions that are within the scope of their professional practice and competence, considering their level of education, training, and experience.


Individuals shall engage in lifelong learning to maintain and enhance professional competence and performance.


Individuals shall not require or permit their professional staff to provide services or conduct research activities that exceed the staff member's competence, level of education, training, and experience.


Individuals shall ensure that all equipment used to provide services or to conduct research and scholarly activities is in proper working order and is properly calibrated.


Principle of Ethics III

Individuals shall honor their responsibility to the public by promoting public understanding of the professions, by supporting the development of services designed to fulfill the unmet needs of the public, and by providing accurate information in all communications involving any aspect of the professions, including the dissemination of research findings and scholarly activities, and the promotion, marketing, and advertising of products and services.


Rules of Ethics

Individuals shall not misrepresent their credentials, competence, education, training, experience, or scholarly or research contributions.


Individuals shall not participate in professional activities that constitute a conflict of interest.


Individuals shall refer those served professionally solely on the basis of the interest of those being referred and not on any personal interest, financial or otherwise.


Individuals shall not misrepresent research, diagnostic information, services rendered, results of services rendered, products dispensed, or the effects of products dispensed.


Individuals shall not defraud or engage in any scheme to defraud in connection with obtaining payment, reimbursement, or grants for services rendered, research conducted, or products dispensed.


Individuals' statements to the public shall provide accurate information about the nature and management of communication disorders, about the professions, about professional services, about products for sale, and about research and scholarly activities.


Individuals' statements to the public when advertising, announcing, and marketing their professional services; reporting research results; and promoting products shall adhere to professional standards and shall not contain misrepresentations.



Principle of Ethics IV

Individuals shall honor their responsibilities to the professions and their relationships with colleagues, students, and members of other professions and disciplines.


Rules of Ethics

Individuals shall uphold the dignity and autonomy of the professions, maintain harmonious interprofessional and intraprofessional relationships, and accept the professions' self-imposed standards.


Individuals shall prohibit anyone under their supervision from engaging in any practice that violates the Code of Ethics.


Individuals shall not engage in dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.


Individuals shall not engage in any form of unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment or power abuse.


Individuals shall not engage in any other form of conduct that adversely reflects on the professions or on the individual's fitness to serve persons professionally.


Individuals shall not engage in sexual activities with clients, students, or research participants over whom they exercise professional authority or power.


Individuals shall assign credit only to those who have contributed to a publication, presentation, or product. Credit shall be assigned in proportion to the contribution and only with the contributor's consent.


Individuals shall reference the source when using other persons' ideas, research, presentations, or products in written, oral, or any other media presentation or summary.


Individuals' statements to colleagues about professional services, research results, and products shall adhere to prevailing professional standards and shall contain no misrepresentations.


Individuals shall not provide professional services without exercising independent professional judgment, regardless of referral source or prescription.


Individuals shall not discriminate in their relationships with colleagues, students, and members of other professions and disciplines on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, gender identity/gender expression, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.


Individuals shall not file or encourage others to file complaints that disregard or ignore facts that would disprove the allegation, nor should the Code of Ethics be used for personal reprisal, as a means of addressing personal animosity, or as a vehicle for retaliation.


Individuals who have reason to believe that the Code of Ethics has been violated shall inform the Board of Ethics.


Individuals shall comply fully with the policies of the Board of Ethics in its consideration and adjudication of complaints of violations of the Code of Ethics.


Many people think of plagiarism as copying another's work or borrowing someone else's original ideas. But terms like "copying" and "borrowing" can disguise the seriousness of the offense:


  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.


According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).


  • turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)

Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided, however, by citing sources. Simply acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed and providing your audience with the information necessary to find that source is usually enough to prevent plagiarism. 


Using an image, video or piece of music in a work you have produced without receiving proper permission or providing appropriate citation is plagiarism. The following activities are very common in today’s society. Despite their popularity, they still count as plagiarism.

  • Copying media (especially images) from other websites to paste them into your own papers or websites.

  • Making a video using footage from others’ videos or using copyrighted music as part of the soundtrack.

  • Performing another person’s copyrighted music (i.e., playing a cover).

  • Composing a piece of music that borrows heavily from another composition.

Certainly, these media pose situations in which it can be challenging to determine whether or not the copyrights of a work are being violated. For example:

  • A photograph or scan of a copyrighted image (for example: using a photograph of a book cover to represent that book on one’s website)

  • Recording audio or video in which copyrighted music or video is playing in the background.

  • Re-creating a visual work in the same medium. (for example: shooting a photograph that uses the same composition and subject matter as someone else’s photograph)

  • Re-creating a visual work in a different medium (for example: making a painting that closely resembles another person’s photograph).

  • Re-mixing or altering copyrighted images, video or audio, even if done so in an original way.

The legality of these situations, and others, would be dependent upon the intent and context within which they are produced. The two safest approaches to take in regards to these situations is: 1) Avoid them altogether or 2) Confirm the works’ usage permissions and cite them properly.


Plagiarism is not always a black and white issue. The boundary between plagiarism and research is often unclear. Learning to recognize the various forms of plagiarism, especially the more ambiguous ones, is an important step towards effective prevention.

The Plagiarism Spectrum was developed as a way to define and distinguish the common ways in which plagiarism can take form. The Spectrum makes these forms memorable by tagging the types with “Digital 2.0” monikers, a gesture that both acknowledges the role that the internet plays in instances of content copying and makes the types more meaningful for a generation of writers who are “digital natives.”

As part of the Plagiarism Spectrum project, a May 2012 survey of nearly 900 secondary and higher education instructors was also conducted to assess the frequency with which these types appear as well as the degree to which each type is problematic for instructors.

Each of the 10 most common types of plagiarism are defined below. The types are ranked in order of severity of intent.



Submitting another’s work, word-for-word, as one’s own



Combines perfectly cited sources with copied passages without citation


#2. CTRL-C

Contains significant portions of text from a single source without alterations



Mixes copied material from multiple sources



Changing key words and phrases but retaining the essential content of the source


#8. 404 ERROR

Includes citations to non-existent or inaccurate information about sources



Paraphrases from multiple sources, made to fit together



Includes proper citation to sources but the paper contains almost no original work



Borrows generously from the writer’s previous work without citation



Includes proper citation, but relies too closely on the text’s original wording and/or structure


In a research paper, you have to come up with your own original ideas while at the same time making reference to work that's already been done by others. But how can you tell where their ideas end and your own begin? What's the proper way to integrate sources in your paper? If you change some of what an author said, do you still have to cite that author?

Confusion about the answers to these questions often leads to plagiarism. If you have similar questions or are concerned about preventing plagiarism, we recommend using the checklist below.



Have questions about plagiarism? If you can't find the answers on our site or are unsure about something, you should ask your instructor. He or she will most likely be very happy to answer your questions. You can also check out the guidelines for citing sources properly. If you follow them and the rest of the advice on this page, you should have no problems with plagiarism.


Planning your paper well is the first and most important step you can take toward preventing plagiarism. If you know you are going to use other sources of information, you need to plan how you are going to include them in your paper. This means working out a balance between the ideas you have taken from other sources and your own, original ideas. Writing an outline or coming up with a thesis statement in which you clearly formulate an argument about the information you find will help establish the boundaries between your ideas and those of your sources.                 


One of the best ways to prepare for a research paper is by taking thorough notes from all of your sources so that you have much of the information organized before you begin writing. On the other hand, poor note-taking can lead to many problems-- including improper citations and misquotations, both of which are forms of plagiarism! To avoid confusion about your sources, try using different colored fonts, pens, or pencils for each one, and make sure you clearly distinguish your own ideas from those you found elsewhere. Also, get in the habit of marking page numbers, and make sure that you record bibliographic information or web addresses for every source right away-- finding them again later when you are trying to finish your paper can be a nightmare!



Of course you want to get credit for your own ideas. And, you don't want your instructor to think that you got all of your information from somewhere else. But if it is unclear whether an idea in your paper really came from you, or whether you got it from somewhere else and just changed it a little, you should always cite your source. Instead of weakening your paper and making it seem like you have fewer original ideas, this will actually strengthen your paper by:

  • showing that you are not just copying other ideas but are processing and adding to them,
  • lending outside support to the ideas that are completely yours, and
  • highlighting the originality of your ideas by making clear distinctions between them and ideas you have gotten elsewhere


Even if you cite sources, ambiguity in your phrasing can often disguise the real source of any given idea, causing inadvertent plagiarism. Make sure when you mix your own ideas with those of your sources that you always clearly distinguish them. If you are discussing the ideas of more than one person, watch out for confusing pronouns. For example, imagine you are talking about Harold Bloom's discussion of James Joyce's opinion of Shakespeare, and you write: "He brilliantly portrayed the situation of a writer in society at that time." Who is the "He" in this sentence? Bloom, Joyce, or Shakespeare? Who is the "writer": Joyce, Shakespeare, or one of their characters? Always make sure to distinguish who said what, and give credit to the right person.


A paraphrase is a restatement in your own words of someone else's ideas. Changing a few words of the original sentences does NOT make your writing a legitimate paraphrase. You must change both the words and the sentence structure of the original, without changing the content. Also, you should keep in mind that paraphrased passages still require citation because the ideas came from another source, even though you are putting them in your own words.

The purpose of paraphrasing is not to make it seem like you are drawing less directly from other sources or to reduce the number of quotations in your paper. It is a common misconception among students that you need to hide the fact that you rely on other sources. Actually it is advantageous to highlight the fact that other sources support your own ideas. Using quality sources to support your ideas makes them seem stronger and more valid. Good paraphrasing makes the ideas of the original source fit smoothly into your paper, emphasizing the most relevant points and leaving out unrelated information.


Not all sources on the web are worth citing-- in fact, many of them are just plain wrong. So how do you tell the good ones apart? For starters, make sure you know the author(s) of the page, where they got their information, and when they wrote it (getting this information is also an important step in avoiding plagiarism!). Then you should determine how credible you feel the source is: how well they support their ideas, the quality of the writing, the accuracy of the information provided, etc