Although some students purposefully cheat on their assignments, there are also many students who accidentally plagiarise other people’s work and get punished for it. Therefore, it is extremely important for university students in particular to understand what plagiarism is, and how to avoid it.
In many academic institutions, although plagiarism is a serious offence, first year students usually only tend to get a brief explanation of what plagiarism is, and perhaps as a result do not take such practices as seriously as they should. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly read your course guidebook, and if there is not enough information about plagiarism in it, then ask your tutor, or do some research yourself. Plagiarism is so abhorred in the academic community because it is essentially regarded as cheating, and despite the fact that there are many types of plagiarism – which can range from the accidental to the overt, and from the subtle and nuanced to the obvious – all types of plagiarism tends to be treated the same; and the consequences of plagiarism can range from mild to the extreme, depending upon how your academic institution deals with such practices, and how serious it is viewed in the context of your work and your course.
Therefore, if you are taking notes in your university library, and looking at sources, then you must make sure that each and every note is correctly referenced with the right source, and that the notes provide an accurate representation of the original text, with no embellishments or additions being made to them. For many students then, what this comes down to is a lack of organisation, and becoming confused about what are their own ideas in their notes, and what are somebody else’s ideas. As such, it is important to take a systematic and methodical approach when doing any research or preparation work for an essay or report, as this is where many students make crucial mistakes – which can then cost them later down the line. Contrary to what one might expect then, for many students who are accused of plagiarism this news comes as a complete surprise. Therefore, if you want to avoid such an unwelcome surprise when you receive your feedback for your work, then there are a number of things that you can do.
Steps to Avoid Plagiarism
To begin with, as noted, organise your notes well and make sure you take full references for any sources as you go along. In addition to this, when you have written your actual paper, you can also check your writing with plagiarism detection software such as Viper, and any similar content will then be flagged for your inspection. Nevertheless, this only provides a check against any digital information, and as not all books and sources have been digitised, this means that some of these sources might not be flagged. But this does not mean that your paper is clear of any plagiarism if your paper has no digital similarities, as your tutor might recognise an idea or a passage from a book, or other source, that they are familiar with, and this too could get you into trouble. As such, this is why the note-taking process is so important, and why you should get organised with a system that you are familiar with. In addition, if you work in a study group, you must also take care not to share too many ideas, or to read each other’s content, as this could be subconsciously taken in and later recalled as your own idea – which could also be regarded as plagiarism. Furthermore, if you do decide to use somebody else’s work or sections of somebody else’s work as your own, then your tutor could recognise that your style of writing has changed dramatically, and such suspicions could then lead to a more thorough investigation of your past and present work.
Examples of the Consequences of Plagiarism.
People who attain university qualifications often go on to represent companies or work in positions of importance with many social responsibilities, and so it is very important that these people do not falsely gain such qualifications.
If a nurse was to gain qualifications without doing the work, then this could put the lives of patients at risk; and similarly, if a social worker gained their qualifications without doing the work themselves, then this lack of knowledge could damage families and individuals in very real ways in the field. As such, it is imperative that such academic institutions take plagiarism seriously, as a discovery of un-detected plagiarism further down the line could seriously damage the reputation of a university, or indeed a company that has employed someone with a qualification that was achieved dishonestly. Similarly, a politician’s career could be finished if some of their earlier academic work was found to be a case of plagiarism, and so this is something that can follow somebody all of their lives, simply for one mistake that was made. As such, one must consider not just what plagiarism could do to one’s academic life, but also for your career and life beyond academia, if such proverbial skeletons in the closet were to be later revealed.
In the United Kingdom, an investigation conducted by The Times newspaper revealed that around 0.7% of UK students are accused of cheating, which amounts to around 17,000 students per year out of just over 2.4 million. However, the true extent of such cheating is really not known, as this only includes those students who have been caught plagiarising other people’s work, and so the dark figure of this could really be much greater. Motives for such plagiarism can simply be laziness, a lack of confidence, or of course it can be done accidentally. However, if you truly want to avoid plagiarism, then understanding what it is, and what it entails, is key, as without having a thorough understanding of plagiarism, then you might just commit it without really realising it. Therefore, if you are a fresher at university, or even a more senior student, it is always a good idea to periodically review your course handbook for information about plagiarism, just as a reminder, and to have an omnipresent awareness of these rules and regulations when carrying out your research. If you do intend on following the rules, then knowledge is key, along with having the necessary tools to be able to detect any instances of plagiarism in your own work.
Using Plagiarism Detection Tools like Viper
It is a really good investment to sign up to some plagiarism detection software like Viper, as this provides you with an added layer of risk management, and can put your mind at ease that you have not, at least, inadvertently copied any content or ideas from digital sources. However, bear in mind that digital content is now extensive, and includes all online content, as well as any in-house records of past essays kept by a university. In fact, this content might be so extensive, that your content might be flagged for a particular phrase or idea that you have not copied or plagiarised, but which has simply by coincidence turned out very similar. As such, if this happens, then it might be prudent to just tweak your work, so that it is a little more unique. But how common is plagiarism?
Finally, you must ask yourself: do you really want to destroy everything that you have worked for to get to this point in your academic life, for just a moment of laziness? Probably not I would say. For more information on how to avoid plagiarism simply visit the following link: