Tuesday, May 1, 2012

You Weren't Meant To Be A Copy Machine

Bootlegging. Theft. Stealing. Fraud. Deception. Piracy. Lying. Misrepresenting.
If you have ever copied someone else’s work and passed it off as your own, you are guilty of the above. The word that encompasses all of these terms is: Plagiarism.
Here is the Merriam-Webster definition of plagiarism, available at Plagiarism.org: http://plagiarism.org/  (pronounced: PLAY ja rism).
  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.
It’s not only passing off somebody else’s work as your own, it’s also
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not.
And other forms of plagiarism and dishonesty…
·        Bribery: getting the answers to a test by paying someone who knows them
·        Doing something to prevent someone from getting the credit he or she is owed
·        Claiming you did the work and turned it in, but the instructor lost it
·        Giving a false excuse for missing a deadline (the dog ate your homework, indeed!)
·        Destroying someone else’s work so he or she can’t get a good grade or credit for doing it
In order to avoid plagiarizing, be sure you cite your sources of information. Acknowledge where you found the material and/or who was the original author. Put lines you use from that book or document in quotation marks. Use footnotes when appropriate. Let the reader know where he or she can go to look at the source (online? book? personal contact?)
You may be wondering, how would my instructor know if I’m copying someone else’s work? And if so, the punishment can’t be that bad, right?
First, yes, they can tell. In speaking to a college instructor, I learned that first of all, as an instructor gets to know you, he or she will indeed notice when you have written something that just doesn’t seem to fit with your style or your abilities. If you are currently a “C” student and hand in a paper that is full of information that sounds like it came from a dictionary, the instructor will suspect it’s copied. In fact, there is a website they can go to which can access thousands of books and other works to see if your material was taken from those sources and is not your own original work.: turnitin.com .
Second, as to punishment for plagiarism, it's safe to assume you will fail that test, but it is also likely you'll fall that course entirely. Do you want to run that risk?
Believe in your abilities, and keep your self-respect. An instructor looks forward to an original idea expressed in your work, not something that someone else already wrote.

 Write your own papers, give credit where credit is due, and really earn that grade. You won’t ever have to wonder if someone will find you out!

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