December 3, 2012
Plagarism

4 Easy Ways to Avoid Plagiarism

The advisor for our debate team loved Abraham Lincoln. He quoted him all the time. Apparently it stuck, because in the middle of my closing argument at our final competition I unintentionally repeated one of Lincoln’s quotes, something our advisor had said a dozen times. I didn’t cite it. The other team caught it. We were disqualified.

Ouch.

Plagiarism is stealing.

Sometimes copying someone else’s work is unintentional. Sometimes it’s a shortcut. Either way, plagiarism is always taken seriously. When I meet with someone who had their work copied, they usually feel violated, almost as if something had been stolen from them.

That day when I didn’t cite Lincoln, it did absolutely no damage to him, his character, or reputation. But my argument also wouldn’t have been any weaker if I had just given credit that it was his idea.

It was a good idea. It just wasn’t mine.

Can you give TOO much credit?

In 18 years of school and 4 years of teaching, I have never been told that I gave too much credit away. But when I didn’t give credit appropriately, it cost me dearly.

More students violate the academic misconduct portion of the code of conduct than any other section. So, how can you avoid plagiarism?

1. Take notes as you go.

As you research a topic, build an outline, and begin to write – takes notes about your sources as you go along. Otherwise you’ll be stuck at the end of your paper wondering where you got your ideas.

2. Use your own words.

That is different than re-ordering the words in a sentence. For example, I could re-order the words in a sentence and say, “For mankind, that’s a leap that is giant” (like Neil Armstrong). Or I could think about what he meant, and then say in my own words, “Walking on the moon was a great step in the direction of discovery.”

3. When in doubt, cite it.

The Purdue Owl is a great resource for learning about citations.

4. Don’t submit the same paper (or part of a paper) twice!

Most teachers check to see if a paper has copied information (even if it was from a previous paper you submitted!).

 

About the author:

Beau Johnson is the Director of Student Conduct at FRCC. In his spare time he leads service trips focused on clean water solutions (pictured here in Bolivia). Beau loves anything that is outside, competitive, or that includes his kids.