Posts Tagged ‘college issues’

Identifying Plagiarism: Can You Spot It?

Can You Spot Plagiarism?


We’re brought up knowing that plagiarism is wrong. But what happens when our concepts of plagiarism are wrong? Misguided by the phrase, “using someone else’s words as your own,” it’s often assumed that by changing some wording around with your handy thesaurus, it can no longer be considered plagiarism. There have been worse cases where a student truly believes what is written in their notebooks from last semester were his or her own thoughts, when it fact, it was a quote from a well-known philosopher. As the student uses this idea within their thesis paper without having credited the appropriate source, trouble can ensue. In fact, just by citing a source incorrectly, you could be accused of plagiarism!

The issue is convoluted enough that even graduate students, who publish their work in journals, don’t always have a good grasp of the idea. According to an article published recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education, graduate students surveyed at six universities (University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Arizona, Columbia, Emory, Michigan State, and Pennsylvania State Universities) thought that plagiarism was a problem, but when it came down to it, they weren’t always able to identify what plagiarism is. These students had trouble understanding conflicts of interest, and they had difficulty grasping self-plagiarism: the act of reusing one’s own copyrighted or published work in another work without citing the original publication. The study, entitled Project of Scholarly Integrity, began in 2008, and was conducted by The Council of Graduate Schools.

It’s up to the college or university to teach students ethics in research and writing. As many graduate students surveyed did not feel confident in this area, the University of Arizona responded by offering workshops and designing lessons that specifically deal with identifying plagiarism. Many colleges across the country have similar kinds of preparation.

Knowing what is considered plagiarism and how to properly cite work is extremely important in the academic world as even accidental plagiarism has been known to have its consequences. Here’s a few tips to minimize your chance of copying someone else’s work.

Tips to Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism is more than using someone else’s words–it’s using someone else’s idea. If it’s not your idea, or if your idea has already been published in another work, you need to cite it.

If you plan to use someone’s exact words, it needs to be in quotes as well as cited.

When taking notes in class, be sure to include the source of your information, even if it’s from your professor or another student, so you don’t accidentally mistake someone else’s work for your own.

Get a book on how to properly site sources in MLA, APA, and Chicago Style formats. They’re available on your college campus, and they’re only a few bucks. This information is also available on numerous online sites.

When in doubt, ask a librarian or English professor for help. They are experts in this stuff!


5 Tips for Undecided Freshman Registering for Classes

Categories: College Life

wamcIllustrationIconIf you’re a recent high school grad getting ready for college next fall, you probably cannot contain your excitement.  College is the reason you’ve been working your butt off the last year and a half–and sometimes way longer.  You’ve put blood, sweat and tears into your college applications (hopefully just metaphorically), and in just a couple of months you will finally reap the benefits of your hard work.

Often times, college freshman are so excited about just being in college that they lose sight of their academic aspirations. There’s so many other things to worry about–your living situation, new roommate, that guy down the hall who gave you some spare quarters so you could do a load of laundry, the 15 or so a capella groups you’re auditioning for, and not to mention the football game on Saturday.

So when it comes time to register for classes, you might be thinking the following thoughts:

What should I do? I gave this college classes thing no forethought.  I’m never going to graduate.  What do I want to do with my life?!

If that’s the case, here are 5 tips to help undecided freshman decide what they should register for their first semester:

1. Get your general education requirements out of the way
Most colleges and universities require that their students take a core curriculum. A lot of times, these classes might not have anything to do with your interest or major–English majors might have to take some quantitative reasoning and biology majors might have to take a a fine arts credit. Whether or not you know what you’re going to major in, getting your gen ed requirements out of the way is a great strategy. You don’t want to have to take a physics class you’ve been dreading your second semester senior year.

2. Follow your passions
Even if you’re not sure what you want to major in, you still have subjects you’re passionate about or at least enjoy. Chances are, your genuine interests will lead you to your field of study. 

3. Choose by professor
Sometimes you don’t choose a class for the subject matter as much as you do because of the world renowned professor who teaches it. There might be a beloved or even quite famous and influential professor who teaches at your college that you have the opportunity to learn from!

4. Word of mouth
If you chat it up with upperclassman, your RA, friends of friends who go or have gone to your school, you might hear about a must-take class. It could be super interesting, it could be a great way to get a gen ed credit taken care of, just keep your ears open for what students are saying.

5. The “cool” factor
While browsing through your college’s course catalog, you might come across a class that makes you say, “Woah, they teach that here?” It could be a class about the Beatles, Harry Potter or even Star Wars. You never know! If you’re undecided, following what piques your interest is a great way to get started.

Do you have any tips for undecided college freshman? Comment and share!