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Plagiarism, Not Worth It According to McLEMEE (2004), Plagiarism is, "the ideas, or the expression of the ideasâ€¦ of another". Plagiarism can take many forms which include but are not limited to, literature writing, music, scientific research etcâ€¦. However, it all boils down to the negligence of the author not citing the material properly. This is more common than people think. The objective of this paper is to identify what plagiarism is, and how one can avoid this type of situation. In addition I will lay down my own personal experiences and how I could have handled the situation better. This process though it may be strenuous has allowed me to develop better critical thinking skills, along with hands on application. The paper will touch on topics such as time management skills, communication between professor/advisor, and outside help (e.g. learning centers/ tutoring).
Plagiarism is stealing and there are no if, and, or but, around that simple fact. How is that stealing? Any individual that has written something original has applied effort to their analysis of that specific subject. A prime example, if I like how someone presented their material in a research project, and I opt to use it or elaborate on their findings, I must give credit to the original author. This is due to the fact I have incorporated their ideas along with my own examination.
There are many who know that they are plagiarizing and I do not sympathize with them. However, there are others like me, who overlooked paraphrasing concepts, and rushed through the paper, due to lack of time management. If I have learned anything throughout this process it is do not rush through a paper, because mistakes will be made and that is guaranteed. If your integrity is worth something to you then taking your time is the best option. According to the Council of Writing Program Administrators .org (CWPA), the primary causes of plagiarism include but are not limited to:
Fear of failure
Time management skills
Lack of integrity for one's self
Lack of disciplinary action when plagiarism has arisen
My own personal experience favors the second cause, time management. As an Automotive Technician (mechanic), in the field of diagnostic repair, time is of the essences. In many ways I compare it to having a dual career (full-time student, full-time occupation). Time management becomes very critical in my situation, along with many others who are also invested in clubs, sport- athletes, and other extracurricular activities. How can time be maximized with all this happening at once? There are four critical points that I have learned, which has helped me to plan my semesters accordingly.
Plan papers/projects ahead of time. This allows you to see everything in front of you, and gauge whether you may need additional time.
Keep clear and concise communication with your professor and advisor at all times throughout the semester. Let them know if you are having trouble.
Decrease your working schedule in advance if additional time is need for a particular paper or project. ( reduces stress and increases productivity)
If the pressure seems to over overwhelming and you just cannot keep up, speak with dean about the situation and drop the course as a last resort.
There are different types of plagiarism; the first involves one of the most obvious types used, "the cut and paste". This method involves highlighting sentences and/or paragraph s and pasting them into a word document. This is plagiarism that is the most notable. According to Dr. Barnbaum of Valdosta State University, there are four other types other than the "copy and paste" method. The second type uses a sentence structure that just basically moves words around (Bambaum). This is still plagiarism because there was no effort applied on the part of the author. The original sentence or paragraph was not interpreted. The third type is using the same style as the author (Bambaum). This I find very hard to understand but it does make sense. An author may portray a certain style of writing with the way his/her ideas are presented. It is considered plagiarism if the author's style of writing is used directly. It is important to make papers/ written assignments your own because we are all unique in our understanding of ideas. There is no right or wrong way to express your ideas, however the unethical way is to use another author's style (Bambaum). The fourth type I found very interesting in the usage of metaphors, again if the author uses a particular metaphor to make a statement more clear (Bambaum). This is technically his idea and interpretation of that statement. A citation source needs to be created to that author.
Steps can be taken to avoid plagiarism. One major step involves proper paraphrasing which can be very tricky but with adequate practice can be mastered. Purdue University has a great online writing laboratory. The following below was taken directly from their six-steps of effective paraphrasing from Purdue University online writing lab (OWL). I will explain each point for better clarification of the main concept that should be mastered.
Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.
Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.
Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.
Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.
Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.
Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.
These steps I felt were vital in my reprocessing of my own papers. The learning center at my current University has helped me to use these steps to my advantage. The first step involves rereading the original text, if clarification is needed seek help from either a Professor or Liberian who may be very familiar with the subject. Once you have had clarification then the process becomes more manageable. In order to paraphrase anything that will be put on a document, it must first make sense. This is where I think most people get confused about plagiarism. If a sentence is not clear or it may use multiple phrases that contain words we may not fully understand, then the ethical thing is to look up the words and either ask for clarification or do not use the material. I suggest not using the material as your last source, only because that specific paper may contain an in-depth analysis of that subject matter. The paper may not be at your level of comprehension. This is not to say that you cannot use it, but it will require additional resources to better interrupt the subject.
The second step requires setting the original paper aside and writing in your own words, what you felt the paper/article was about. Now the tendency to look at the original text will be very tempting but you should not apply that. The main reason being is that it will be more likely that you will try and manipulate the words of the author/author style. This will only lead to disaster. In your own words express what you felt were the important ideas of that text. If there is more information that will be taken from other paragraphs s repeat with steps one and two in mind.
Step three involves going back to the original text and making sure that your version does not look exactly like the original. The version you have written should be your style and how you want to portray the information to your audience. Now I would like to apply some of my own strategies here. If you feel uncertain about a paraphrase seek help. This help can come from a colleague or someone you trust that will be critical of your skills. I personally suggest a professor or someone with years of writing experience. Their abilities are far superior to ours at the point in our academic career. The will give you the best option in avoiding plagiarism. It demonstrates honesty in part to you seeking their help. This shows that you are taking an interest in your work even if you may not be. This is vital to avoiding plagiarism.
The use of quotes is what step four makes note of here. If a sentence or two cannot be paraphrased and you like how the author has worded it, use direct quotation marks and use paraphrasing techniques to interrupt what they meant in those two sentences. Do not however, use their sentence as your own because this would be violating the whole idea of avoiding plagiarism. If you feel uncomfortable interrupting the author's direct quote seek a professor help. They will offer alterative perception and views that may or may not help, also this is a good step and it may help clarify what the author is trying to convey in the quote.
The final step involves where the citation should be made in the text as well as the worked cited page. Again you plan to use their ideas which of course where paraphrased then credit is due to the original text and the author. There are so many different styles of citation such as MLA, APA etcâ€¦. I personally use an updated handbook of both MLA and APA standards for citation. This can be found anywhere from libraries to local bookstores. This I highly recommend because information is changing everyday and how to cite that information is as well. The handbook provided additional help on how the citation should be made. Some books may even give examples which will allow you to see firsthand how it should be sited.
The main points have been addressed on what plagiarism is, what causes plagiarism and how to avoid it. A main concept that I would like to reiterate it time management. This can be hard to do but applying some effort will go a long way. If you can plan ahead and see what's in front of you then, this is a lot easier then looking to the side or the back. It is kind of like driving a car down the road. When you can see all the objects in front of you, you can maneuver the car out of the way. However, if you cannot see those objects how will you know when to avoid them? That is simple plan ahead. The steps used in this paper were from my own experience and where from sources that has been around for quite some time. The Purdue online writing lab (OWL) is a great site for reference on how to paraphrase, when to site information, and how to site it. If you ever at all feel pressured by school, colleagues, and other outside sources seek help. This may seem scare because in your mind your thinking, "if I seek help they might think I have no clue what I am doing", "I cannot handle college", my answer is no. If you seek help it shows honesty and accountability. The honesty comes from your willingness to get the appropriate help, instead of passing off work as your own. This kind of judgment call reflects not only on you but on the University itself. In addition we are still learning and have not mastered every concept known to man.