Plagiarism is defined as a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work. Beginning in middle school we were taught that plagiarism is bad and if you do plagiarize you will fail the paper or maybe even the class. But have you ever received tips on how to avoid plagiarism? This week we were asked to research different methods of how to avoid that horrible “P” word in our writing.
MyCollegeSuccessStory.com recently posted an article by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D listing the top ten ways to avoid plagiarism in your writing. Here are some of the tips that they mentioned:
- Plan your writing assignments and avoid procrastination. I think this is one of the most important things. I know far too many college students are affected by the “procrastination bug” and that it is very typical to pull an all-nighter at “club Henderson” the night before a big paper is due. Hansen explains that when students are in a bind they become careless about citing others work at crunch time. So begin planning your papers weeks or maybe even months before the actual due date.
- Know what plagiarism is. Hansen says that you must credit any source that you quote directly. You must place the source’s words in quotation marks and insert a citation in the style your professor requires.
- If you question whether or how a source needs to be cited, ask your professor. Although information that is “common knowledge” does not need to be cited but if you are writing about a discipline with which you are not familiar, you may not have a good grasp of which information is “common knowledge” within that field. It is best to remember when in doubt, ask.
- Begin constructing your bibliography early. As soon as you begin gathering source materials, you can start your bibliography. I always like to keep a copy of all my sources in a notebook so I will have quick reference to them as well as the information for citing.
- Don’t succumb to the argument that “everyone’s doing it.” Even though, plagiarism and other forms of cheating are widespread on college campuses. It’s not worth the risk of failing or getting kicked out of college for it. Also, cheating/plagiarism charges show up on your record and future employees may be turned off.