I have a couple of questions about how to correctly cite sources in order to avoid unintentional plagiarism.
First, let me give you an example of a paragraph I was reading the other day as part of a course I'm taking on Coursera:
As can be seen in the example paragraph above, the person who wrote it didn't use any in-text citations, which makes me think that they either drew upon their own experience to write the content or just didn't need to acknowledge the sources at all.
So my first question is, if after doing some research, i.e., reading extensively, I write a compare/contrast essay without using in-text citations( as in the example above) but crediting the sources by including a Works Cited page at the end of the document, am I unintentionally committing plagiarism?
I ask this question because the author of the compare/contrast paragraph above didn't cite the sources, and so I assume that maybe there's no need to use in-text citations when you draw comparisons between two things, because the comparisons that you draw are a product of your own thinking and reasoning, and therefore there's no need to include in-line citations--even if you took the information from outside sources. The only thing you need to do, I assume, is to add a Works Cited list at the end of the document for reference purposes, and that would be enough to avoid plagiarism. Now, please tell me if my assumption is correct. Is this the reason why the author of the example paragraph I've given at the beginning of the post didn't include any in-text citations in it? Or were they simply using their own experience to make the comparisons?
Also, let's say I want to write an essay on three specific scientific theories. Hence, I go and read in detail about each theory until I have understood them thoroughly, and then I finally write a 5-page "essay" explaining and describing the theories, all in my own words and without including any in-text citations, only a Works Cited page at the end of the paper. Now, would this 5-page paper that I've produced be considered an academic essay? I personally think it wouldn't, because I didn't use my own ideas to write it. All I did was to sort of unintentionally summarize and paraphrase the content from the sources I read, didn´t I? Would it be considered an academic essay?
Finally, if this hypothetical paper I’m talking about couldn't be taken as an academic essay, could it be deemed a long summary from multiple sources? Or would it just be a random, non-academic, plagiarized piece of writing that I just wrote without using my own ideas? In other words, a piece of writing produced following neither the academic essay nor the academic summary formats.
Sorry if my questions are too obvious, but I just need to clarify these points.