Avoiding Plagiarism When Writing Papers English Language Essay

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What is Plagiarism? Plagiarism occurs when an author writes the words or ideas of another and does not give due credit to that author. It does not matter whether or not intent was there, it is still plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious act, it is wrong. If no credit of others' ideas is given by a student when writing a paper, it could result in failing a class or expulsion from the school. From a moral perspective, if an author publishes a document, but in the document uses someone else's words and does not give proper credit, then he has diminished the original author's work. It is always important to site your sources, not only because it is ethical, but also because plagiarism is taken very seriously. Above are just a couple examples of plagiarism and its consequences. It is a real problem that should not be taken lightly.

Plagiarism is a form of fraud (CheckforPlagiarism.net, 2013). When a writer deliberately and willfully puts her name on someone else's work and then the writer submits the work for some kind of reward (scholarship, good grade on a paper, or winning a prize) fraud is committed. Any work that was created after March of 1989 is protected by the copyright law even if there is no copyright notice attached to the work. Plagiarism is illegal. If a writer plagiarizes she could face civil charges and have to pay a monetary fine. Plagiarism is taken very seriously and it is a crime. Plagiarism can haunt a person's repetition for a very long time. Plagiarism could stop someone from getting into a college or getting the job that she has always wanted.

According to Scanmyessay.com (2012), "(Deliberate plagiarism) needs little explanation because it is the simple - and totally wrong - act of attempting to pass off someone else's work as your own." This is a form of cheating. An author having someone write a paper for free for him, or paying someone to write the paper is also not accepted. Teachers give writing assignment so students will learn. If the student turns in someone else's work it is a waste of time for the teacher, the student, and all involved. The goal of the assignment, learning, has been eliminated.


Some people believe that there is no such thing as self-plagiarism (iParadigms, 2011). According to them, since plagiarism is taking the ideas or words of others, a person cannot self- plagiarize since she is using her own past ideas and words. However, the article points out that there is more than one definition of plagiarism. For example, copying ideas and words from an author's own previous document and publishing it as a new work is also plagiarism. Some students believe that you can write a paper for one class and then turn in the same paper for a different class. If you do that it is yet another form of self-plagiarism. If you get caught self- plagiarizing you could face serious consequence. According to Turnitin.com (2013), "…institutions say that you cannot turn in the same assignment for a separate course without EXPLICIT permission from the instructor that it's OK to do so." The paper should be re-written and referenced because self-plagiarism is not tolerated.

Plagiarism when Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is using an author's ideas from his document, but not using his words. Instead, the writer uses her own words to convey the same message. Paraphrasing is perfectly acceptable, as long as credit is given for the idea referred to. If an author paraphrases and does not site the source, then it is another example of plagiarism. This is also wrong and cannot be done. A writer always needs to site the source and give credit when credit is due. By not siting sources a writer is taking a big risk, which may lead to trouble.

A Different View of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is not viewed in the same way universally. Donna Nagy (2012) recalled information she found on Plagiarism in Asia:

In my Writing 1010 class at Madonna University, Dr. A. Anne Bowers Jr. told us that it is common for Asian countries to plagiarize (Bowers, 2012) I wondered why they plagiarized more often, so I looked up an article. According to McDonnell, "Among those reasons include that quoting from a well-known authority is showing a sign of respect and deep reference for authority. Altering and changing even a bit of the authority's word is a sign of disrespect and bad intellectual judgment" (Yusof, 2009) After reading the article I now have a better understanding and respect of their views of plagiarizing.

Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is acceptable to write without referencing. For example if it is stated "George Washington was the first President of the United States of America" a source does not need to be sited because this is considered common knowledge. However if it is written "Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States of America" the source needs to be sited. It is not considered common knowledge which president Eisenhower was. If you are not sure what is whether or not something is considered common knowledge, then find a source to site.

Downfalls of the Fear of Plagiarism

Could the fear of plagiarism stop a student from making a statement of that would be helpful in his work? A student might not write his own words in fear that the instructor will think they are someone else's words. Also, a student might be tempted to leave out information that they remember from documents she read in the past. If a student remembers something that she read in the past and cannot remember who wrote it, she may tend to leave out the information due to fear of being accused of plagiarism. Fear of plagiarism is especially common now since most papers are turned in electronically and teachers can check electronically for plagiarism. It is important to know the rules or procedures for siting sources, and when they are appropriate. In the second example above, the writer should not fear including information from a document she read in the past. She could site the information as being from an unknown source.

Concluding Remarks

There are many different ways to plagiarize. Writers must learn the correct ways to site their sources and make sure that what is written is giving credit to the authors of the ideas that are portrayed. It can be frustrating and confusing to decide if an idea needs referencing, but there are guidelines that can help the writer make the correct choices. Writers should always be aware that plagiarism is very wrong and unacceptable and that it the writer's responsibility to give credit to authors of their works.