370 | Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It (Janice Campbell)
With the ease of copy and paste in the online writing environment, plagiarism has become a real problem for students, teachers, and homeschooling families. Join me for some simple tips on how to avoid plagiarizing as you research and write great papers.
Janice Campbell, a lifelong reader and writer, loves to introduce students to great books and beautiful writing. She holds an English degree from Mary Baldwin College, and is the graduated homeschool mom of four sons. You’ll find more about reading, writing, planning, and education from a Charlotte Mason/Classical perspective at her websites, EverydayEducation.com, Excellence-in-Literature.com, and DoingWhatMatters.com.
Handbook for Writers by Excellence in Literature
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
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Janice Campbell Hello and welcome to The Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Janice Campbell and I'm one of the many hosts here on the podcast. Each week we bring you an encouraging conversation from this busy and blessed journey of educating our children at home. While the title of the show is Homeschool Solutions, we don't pretend to have all the answers to all the homeschooling questions. It is our hope that this podcast will point you to Jesus Christ that you may seek his counsel as you train your children in the way they should go. Parents, here's a riddle for you: Homeschoolers love them, enemies of freedom hate them. What are they? It's the Tuttle Twin books. With millions of copies sold, the Tuttle Twins series helps you teach your children about entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, the Golden Rule, and so much more. Get a discounted set of books with free workbooks today at TuttleTwins.com/homeschool. And now on today's show.
Janice Campbell Hi, I'm Janice Campbell, and I've been thinking about plagiarism. With the new A.I. resources and the ease of copy-and-paste in the online writing environment, plagiarism has become a real issue for students and teachers in homeschooling families. In today's podcast, I'm going to share what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. I hope you'll find it helpful.
Janice Campbell So plagiarism is the act of taking someone else's words or ideas and passing them off as your own. It's always wrong. It's cheating. But it's an especially serious offense as you go through high school and college and move into professional life. In school, students can fail a class or be expelled for plagiarizing any part of a work. But in the professional world, it's possible to lose not only your job or a promotion, but also your reputation. But you can learn to write a good paper that avoids plagiarizing by focusing on some careful practices, such as using multiple sources for research, citing each source carefully, and learning how to quote or paraphrase properly. Here are some tips to keep your writing ethical and your papers free of plagiarism. So while you're researching, here are four tips to help you avoid plagiarism.
Janice Campbell First, research using multiple sources. Make it a habit to use at least three sources for every paper you write so that you're not simply restating the ideas of a single writer. If you're writing for school, your study guide or your instructor will most likely provide some specific guidelines for the types of sources to use and how many you'll need. But if you use multiple sources, that is one of the biggest helps to avoid plagiarism.
Janice Campbell Secondly, use reliable sources. Books, professional journals, and articles from websites with URLs ending in "edu" tend to be more reliable than user-edited sites such as Wikipedia. Wikipedia is useful because it has a list of references at the bottom of almost every article, and those can be tremendously helpful in pointing the way to more reliable sources that you can then use for further research and put in your citations list.
Janice Campbell So, cite your sources any time you directly copy someone else's words or ideas in your writing. Whether you're copying and quoting directly or paraphrasing, you must cite the source so that your readers know who the original writer was and where the words appeared. There are many different citations, styles--MLA, APA, and so forth--so be sure to use the one that's required by your curriculum or your instructor. You can find instructions for how to use the most common citation methods in your Writer's Handbook, or most any writer's handbook. The Excellence in Literature: Handbook for Writers is a great resource for that. Or at Purdue University's online writing lab, which you can find online--it's free--by searching for Purdue University OWL, for online writing lab.
Janice Campbell Fourth, take good notes as you research. When you're taking notes, be sure to distinguish between your own ideas and the ideas of others. You can do this by using quotation marks around the words of others and then writing down the source of the information. It can be helpful to use the notes app on your computer to keep a list of citations, including URLs to online works that you're citing, and also the date that you accessed them. That's not necessary in every type of list of citations, but it can be helpful to have it if you are making a little list of work cited.
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Janice Campbell So during the writing process... There are five tips for avoiding plagiarizing during the writing process. So first, use your own argument. Don't just give a basic information article. But the best way to really avoid plagiarism is start with your own research-informed perspective on the topic you're writing about. Don't just use sources you agree with, but have sources that you can argue against. And that way you're taking a position, and that position is yours. And you can use a variety of sources.
Janice Campbell Second, use your own words. Present your thesis and your supporting points in your own words, and then use short quotes from other sources sparingly and appropriately. Remember to never copy and paste whole passages from online sources.
Janice Campbell And then if you use direct quotes, attribute them. This is number three. Quoting is using someone's exact words in your writing. And whenever you do so, be sure to put quotation marks around the quoted material and cite the source. Sometimes you can cite it with a signal phrase-- which we'll talk about in a couple minutes--but other times you need to have the author's last name and page number in parentheses at the end. It'll just depend on the type of citation you are using.
Janice Campbell So number four, paraphrasing from multiple sources. If you paraphrase, you restate someone's ideas in your own words. And it can be fine to paraphrase an idea that you found in multiple sources, especially if you're drawing out a single idea or significantly shortening an explanation. But as you do so, be sure to change the sentence structure and vocabulary so that your paraphrase is not simply a copy of the original text.
Janice Campbell Number five, if you're paraphrasing from a single source, it's a good idea to use a signal phrase that indicates the original source of the idea. For example, if you wanted to cite an idea from Henry David Thoreau's Walden, you might begin a paraphrased idea with a signal phrase such as, "Thoreau suggests that," or, "according to Thoreau," and then go on to paraphrase whatever you're wanting to cite.
Janice Campbell When you finish your paper, be sure to do a final plagiarism check. Go back over the paper to make sure that every quote is attributed correctly and your citations are completed in the correct format. If you've paraphrased, especially from a single source, check to be sure that it's clear that the idea expressed is not your own original thought. Rather than writing: "It seems that most people lead quietly desperate lives." It would usually be better to write something such as: "Thoreau believed that most 'men lead lives of quiet desperation,'" with quotation marks around "men lead quiet lives of quiet desperation." You've shortened this very famous quote, but you've also integrated it into your own sentence. You've made it clear that you're not pretending it's your own original thought.
Janice Campbell So colleges sometimes use online plagiarism checkers such as Turnitin. Students are required to submit their typewritten papers or their word-processed papers through this service, and it flags potentially plagiarized passages. The instructor will look it over as well, because the automated surface will indicate that something is similar to another paper, another passage, or even another student's paper from the same class, and all of those things can be perfectly fine. The instructor makes the final decision on which similarities are acceptable and which seem to indicate copying. So this service and other plagiarism detectors are well aware of the possibilities of the new artificial intelligence resources that are coming out, and they're continuing to develop ways to counteract cheating with A.I.. So it's a good idea before turning in your work, to check it by using one of the less official online plagiarism checkers from a site such as Grammarly. This detector can help you identify areas of your writing that may trigger a plagiarism warning. And that way you can fix these before submitting your work. You stand a better chance of not having anything go awry once you've submitted it.
Janice Campbell Plagiarism is cheating and it has serious real-world consequences, but it really isn't hard to avoid. By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your writing is original and that you've given proper credit to the sources you use. Even if it takes a little more work, it's worth it to avoid plagiarism. You can connect with me, Janice Campbell, and check out my books, including the award-winning Excellence in Literature curriculum, Transcripts Made Easy, and more at EverydayEducation.com. And the Excellence in Literature website is filled with articles and resources for people who are learning and loving great literature, because reading well can change your life. Thank you for listening. And goodbye for now.
Thank you for joining us this week on The Homeschool Solutions Show. You can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at Homeschooling.mom. Don't forget to check out my friends at Medi-Share because you deserve health care you can trust. To learn more about Medi-Share and why over 400,000 Christians have made the switch, go to GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/MediShare. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast and while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @HomeschoolingDotMom to let us know what you thought of today's episode. Have you joined us at one of The Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling events of the year, offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topics, and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the US. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. I hope to see you there. Finally you can connect with me, Janice Campbell, at EverydayEducation.com where you'll find my Excellence in Literature curriculum, transcripts made easy and more, as well as at my blog DoingWhatMatters.com and my literature resource site Excellence-In-Literature.com. I wish you peace and joy in your homeschooling.