Every writer needs help from time to time – even the best of them. Stephen King, has an editor and his own team of draft readers ready to critique.
Most novelists do, and these are professional writers. If you feel that you need help with your writing, you should not feel that this is cheating per se. However, there is certain help that you can get, and some that you cannot. It is important to be able to distinguish between these types of help. It is also important not to step over that line into plagiarism.
Using an editor
When it comes to any piece of writing, a good editor can always come in useful. As long as the editor is not writing passages for you, or significantly redrafting it, then this is acceptable. So, you would be wise to take advantage of any editor that you have access to. Doing this can significantly help to improve your writing, with regard spelling, grammar, flow, and structure. Very few pieces of work get published without a good editor going through the piece first.
The use of online academic services
There are a lot of academic services available online, with most of these having editing and proofreading services.
This would be an easy way to pick up some extra marks, without wandering into the void of plagiarism. Some of these academic services also provide a marking service. This will give you an idea about what grade the work will get as it stands. Along with some feedback about what could be done to improve the work. Again, such services are not considered plagiarism. These are simply learning tools that are available to help you improve your work. It’s like having another personal tutor, who has more time and energy to dedicate to your work. Therefore, this is a perfectly acceptable way of getting help.
Do these services present any grey areas?
Of course, there are also some grey areas too. These might be considered to be plagiarism if you are not careful.
For example, many academic services also offer sample papers to students, written on any subject provided, to any particular specifications. These sample papers are considered to be learning tools, for students to see how an essay should be written. However, what it is not meant for is to be submitted as an original piece of writing. This, of course, is plagiarism, as you would be essentially paying somebody else to do the work for you. In fact, in fields such as nursing, social work, or engineering, this might even be dangerous. Why? Well, this potentially allows an uneducated person to get a job in these fields, without actually having the knowledge for it.
Use these services as a learning tool, not to cheat your way through life
It is important not to go down this route. If you do pay for a sample paper, then use it as a learning tool. Read all of the sources stated, take the information provided, and create your own take on this data. You do not have to agree with everything that is said. You can pick and choose what information to use.
The effects on published writing
In published writing, people use ghostwriters to draft their autobiographies. However, the difference is that such works are pieces of entertainment, and there is generally no harm in it. Doing this on an academia means that you are going to get a qualification that you are not qualified for. Therefore, by all means get an editor. Get a critique of your work, and even pay for a marking service if you can afford it. Do not take the lazy route and simply pay for somebody else to do your work for you. You will be cheating yourself out of an education if you do so.
The effects at university
During your university years, it is important to strike that right balance between studying and having fun. If this balance is lost, then you might find yourself getting tempted into cheating your way through your degree. Nevertheless, if you do this in a work-driven degree like psychology or social work, then this is likely to be problematic later. You will likely feel much prouder of yourself if you do go the ‘hard work’ route. This could positively impact your career, and your life in general.
Do other forms of help exist?
Other forms of help might come from talking to a friend, teacher or parent. You could ask them to look over your work. However, whomever you get help from, the rules are the same:
(1) the person helping must not write significant portions of the work for you, and
(2) the person helping must not provide any content for you to use that is not referenced.
However, if you don’t stick to these rules, then you can be considered to be a plagiarist. Nevertheless, this can be a slippery slope, as the boundary between cheating and not cheating is a fuzzy one. For example, one might start by just using a sentence written by somebody else. It might be a note made by a teacher, or a suggestion by a friend. But whatever it is, you might think there is little harm in using it if it is just a short sentence. Once you have done this once, you might use a few more sentences written by somebody else the next time. Pretty soon, somebody else will write your paper. Before you know it, you will be questioning whether paying somebody to write your whole paper is unethical at all.
Do not try to convince yourself you are not doing anything wrong
It is amazing how the human mind can create its own narratives about the world. Allowing people to justify lying and cheating, and unfortunately this is done all of the time. However, it is important to act with integrity. While academic services can be very useful they should be used as intended.
Of course, for some people, the most important thing is whether they are caught or not. The fact is that if you pay a professional to do your work for you, then you are very unlikely to be punished for this. It would be difficult to prove that it was not written by yourself if there are no other instances of plagiarism contained within the work.
What ethical questions exist?
Therefore, these are more ethical questions, and whether you want to be able to hold your head up high. You don’t need to feel isolated as you can get help with your writing without being a plagiarist.
When do you know you crossed the line into plagiarism?
It is important to know where the plagiarism line is. It is not good enough to say that something is okay just because everybody else is doing it. Education fees are very costly these days. It is important that you do get an education ethically, and do not just, in effect, pay for a certificate. Any employer can quickly find you out if you are lacking in knowledge in your subject area. In the end, you could end up wasting all of the money that you invested in your degree. It is important to do your very best to learn, and to acquire new knowledge. By all means get help in doing this. Pay for services if you think they will help you to improve your grades, but do this in an ethical way.
How can plagiarism affect my professional career?
A university degree is not just a piece of paper: it represents a set of acquired skills and knowledge. This is what any employer is paying for, and expects you to have if you hold a certain degree. If you have a specific degree, and you are lacking in knowledge,then questions are going to be asked. So read and learn from any sample papers that you pay for and understand them. Then, write your own paper based upon this newly acquired knowledge. As far as the research stage goes, you can pay for somebody to do most of this hard work. All of the necessary sources will be provided for you. All you have to do then is to learn from this, and put it all together in your own original piece. So money does help, but you have to use it in the right way.
Other valuable tips
Finally, there are other tips and tricks that you can use to help your work, which are far removed from the world of plagiarism. For example, a thesaurus is invaluable in finding better vocabulary to use, and the Internet has a wealth of information that can also be used as long as the correct citations are used. Advice can be gained from friends or professionals, and proofreaders and editors can be paid to improve your work, and get it ready for submission. Doing such things is unproblematic, and is very much a part of the process of writing for many people. It is also important to remember to use plagiarism checkers. These tools can help you put your mind to rest and they will check your work for accidental plagiarism.
Ultimately, in your heart, you probably know if you have crossed the boundary into cheating and plagiarism, and so it is important to be honest with yourself, and to make sure that you are not cutting too many corners, and getting lazy in your work. This, at times, is not easy, but if you are to gain a genuine education, then there is no shortcut, and the work and the time must be put in, so that you can have a successful career in the future.