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How To Avoid Plagiarism in Your College Degree Program

How To Avoid Plagiarism in Your College Degree Program

November 30, 1999

Plagiarism is defined as the act of passing off another's writing or ideas as your own. This is academic dishonesty and all colleges and universities are very strict in this regard and tolerance is zero when plagiarism is discovered. Students committing plagiarism have a hard time living it down. It is possible that plagiarism may result in failing an assignment, failing the course in its entirety, or even expulsion from the college.

An In Depth Look at Plagiarism Laws

When you read copyright notices, they are actually the legal means of protecting work and ideas from plagiarism. When any person or organization copyrights something, it means that only that person or organization has the legal right to make modifications or replicate the copyrighted material. There are several things that may be copyrighted, such as books, images, articles, poetry, and even intellectual property like ideas.

However, like all forms of law, the entire copyright process is so complex that it would take a law degree to completely understand all its ramifications.

What Can You do to Avoid Breaking Copyright Laws?

  • Plagiarism is just a refined word for theft: You must understand that plagiarism is just a refined word for theft. Whenever a person creates anything, whether it be an image, an article, a poem, or an idea, it is theirs. If you just use one of these without permission, and especially without acknowledgement, then you are nothing more than an intellectual thief. Citations are used when referring to the works of others for this reason. They show that you know what is presented is not your own because you are citing the original source.
  • Online Degree Acknowledgement: It is important to remember that you may use the support of the ideas and words of others, provided you acknowledge such support. Also note that not everything that exists is copyrighted. For example, the name United States of America may be used by anyone without having to cite the founding fathers of the country. Similarly, there are many other things that are common knowledge and hence do not fall under the copyright category. These things you may use freely.
  • Copy Right Law: Copyright laws are not something cast in stone, so to speak. With changing times come changing laws. Every time the laws change there is a minor shuffle to understand the new rules that must be followed. For example, with the advent of MP3 music, the music industry had to rapidly create new rules for digital distribution of music; the video industry soon followed. What you need to know is that you are not indulging in plagiarism as long as you give due credit, ask for permission in case you are going to use more than 10% of anything, and refer people to the original source instead of including material in your own works.
  • Citation Has Its Own rules And Standards: Citation has its own rules and standards. APA, MLHA, MLA, Turabien, and Chicago Manual of Style are all different forms of citation. You will have to check with your school to see which sort of citation style they prefer. Then you must acquire the right manual for that citation type and study it thoroughly. Though the styles are different, the basic premise behind all of them is the same: to offer your professors the necessary information to enable them to check information with the original source. Most citation formats include templates that you may download and apply to your papers.
  • Writing A Paper Distance Learning Degree Guide: When you are writing a paper, you must make the effort to gather your sources in order to cite them correctly. It is wise to maintain some sort of digital file, as this is the easiest way to maintain, manage, and transport. Every citation style will have some unique information that it will require; as a result, make sure that you collect all of the necessary details from all of the sources you use. You will most often need the title, author's name, publisher, date of publishing, and page numbers where the information is located.
  • Paraphrasing: It is preferred that all students create completely original papers.  All reference material must only be used to support and substantiate what you wish to say--nothing more. This is why paraphrasing is an important skill that everyone must acquire. This may not be easy at first, but with sufficient practice, paraphrasing comes easily. The process is to read, understand, and restate in your own terms what you have understood. Remember that even paraphrasing requires you to provide the right citation.
  • Citations: Sometimes you may get worried because there are too many citations. It may even lead you to think that so many citations might cost you points; however, the reality is that most professors are extremely happy to see citations. It simply means that you read enough to cite so much, provided that you truly did.
  • Web-Based Services: There are also some web-based services that will do your checking for you. You simply submit your paper to them and they will check it for any plagiarism. Once they clear it you may then forward it to your professor. All good schools offer links to plagiarism resources so that their students always know where to look for this type of guidance. This is a policy that will vary from one school to the next so you will have to check with your particular degree program.
  • Reviewing YOur Work: Always review your work once it is finished. There is no such thing as too many reviews. Even seasoned writers follow the practice of leaving their work alone for weeks and come back to find it riddled with errors. That is just how it is. You must do a first review and let at least 2 days elapse before starting with the second. Try not to think of the paper during those 2 days so that it appears fresh when you look at it.
  • Online degree Professors Guide: Sometimes professors may offer to read the first draft. This is a godsend for you so do not hesitate to capitalize on this helpful option. The professor's comments will be invaluable and may contain many lessons that you must learn. In fact, it is always a good approach to write first drafts early in the project so you get more time to review and polish your paper.