Technology has made research for academic writing really simple, but it also has made copying and pasting other people’s work a lot easier as well. One of the most important lessons students at Excel High School need to know is what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. Once you understand these concepts, you will be able to successfully navigate academic writing for your online courses.
What Is Plagiarism?
Excel High School’s handbook defines our policies about academic integrity. The handbook states that “Users will not use the school system to violate copyright laws or usage licensing agreements, or otherwise to use another person’s property without the person’s prior approval or proper citation, including the downloading or exchanging of pirated software or copying software to or from any school computer, and will not plagiarize works they find on the Internet.” Understanding copyright laws will help you understand why this is an essential policy to follow. Throughout your academic and professional careers, you will be expected to respect and cite other people’s intellectual property.
There are a couple of types of plagiarism to watch for as you create your course assignments. Some plagiarism is intentional while other plagiarism is accidental. Intentional plagiarism is when a student copies another person’s work word-for-word from the source without any indication that they got the information from the original source. Intentional plagiarism is easy to remedy because adding quotation marks and source citation is a simple process.
The trick is when students try to pass off an entire paper written by someone else as their own. This is clearly intentional plagiarism. Certainly, you can’t just place quotation marks around your entire essay and feel good-to-go; the writing has to be your own, and the conclusions you make after doing research and combining all the information has to be your own. Doing your own research and writing your own ideas does take more effort, but the consequences of plagiarism are far worse than the time it takes to produce your own work.
Accidental plagiarism occurs when you think you’ve put information from a source in your own words, but you ended up using much of the author’s language, format, and style in your paper anyway. This type of plagiarism is a grey area, so a good practice to start is to review your writing often compared to your sources or have a trusted adult evaluate any work before you submit it. At Excel High School, you can submit any of your work twice, so if you do accidentally plagiarize, be sure to go back to your sources and take the time to make sure you understand what they are saying before you write so that you can put the information in your own words.
Plagiarism and copyright laws can be intimidating, but there are plenty of ways to avoid making this mistake and facing the consequences of those actions, intentional or not.
How To Avoid Plagiarism
Paraphrasing & Summarizing
Your first step in making sure you avoid plagiarism is to learn how to paraphrase and summarize. Excel High School’s Writing Lab has many resources to help you understand how to put an author’s ideas in your own words. The best tip we can give you is to read what the author wrote, put those words away from you, and then—without looking at the source—write what your interpretation is as clearly as you can. You then pick up your source again and compare what you wrote compared to your source. If you left out important information, then put the source away again and repeat the process. If you copied the author’s language, format, or style too closely, then try again. The work is important enough to do it a few times if you don’t get it right the first time. Once you’ve practiced this a few times, you will get better and better at finding your own individual voice as a writer, avoiding copying the author in no time.
Quoting & Citing Sources
Your next step is to learn how to quote your work accurately and how to properly cite your sources. Quoting and citing using APA format is an essential skill for academics, and The Writing Lab can give you tips about how to do so accurately and clearly to avoid plagiarism. The most important thing to remember is that if it’s not your original idea or a piece of information that is common knowledge, you have to cite your source. If you are taking anything word for word from a source, you need to use quotation marks, and any words or ideas from the source need to be indicated by citing the source within and at the end of the paper.
Resources To Avoid Plagiarism
As you research any topic, you will want to collect your sources on a separate page, copying the links, the author’s name, and the date of publication as you go so that you don’t have to go on a hunt for your sources later on. When it comes time to properly cite your sources at the end of your essay, you can use a free citation generator like Scribbr. With citation generators, you plug in the essential information, and the website helps you organize the information for your Works Cited page. You can also go directly to the APA source citation page from the American Psychological Association itself to be sure you understand the format more clearly.
Once you understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, you’ve taken the guesswork out of academic research and writing. We at Excel want to see you succeed, so using the resources we’ve provided will help you understand much more clearly the expectations and guidelines of your online coursework. By following these rules for academic integrity, you are preparing yourself for success at EHS, in college and university academics, and in your professional life as well.
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