Academic Integrity in the Digital Age

Students who plagiarize may be handed severe punishments, including expulsion. Unfortunately, this doesn't stop many individuals from trying to cheat their way to a college degree. Professors know this and are acting vigorously to track down offenders, including through the use of anti-plagiarist software like TurnItIn. Learn how you can avoid committing academic fraud.

avoid plagiarism

Potentially Serious Consequences

The Internet has opened up amazing opportunities for research. College students once had to go to the library to investigate paper topics in books and other print resources. Today, academic databases, online journals and other electronic tools make it possible for students to fully research papers without ever leaving their computers.

While transforming the way research is done, technology has also brought about an increase in the occurrences of academic fraud. In many cases, students are purposely plagiarizing the work of others to complete assignments. In other situations, though, well-intentioned students have been caught in accidental acts of academic fraud.

Carrying severe consequences, plagiarism is something that most students truly want to avoid. Many, though, simply do not know what is okay and what isn't when it comes to using information found on the Internet. In our copy-and-paste world of electronic media, the lines of appropriate usage have been blurred in the minds of students. Unfortunately, ignorance is not regarded as a valid defense, and academic fraud, intentional or not, can bring with it severe consequences up to and including expulsion.

avoid plagiarism

Protecting Yourself from Plagiarism

So, how can you avoid opening yourself up to claims of plagiarism? Here some guidelines to follow:

Keep detailed research notes. Being very precise in your research notes is a great first step toward avoiding academic fraud. Clearly indicate material that is from others, noting direct quotations where they appear. Before beginning to write a paper, review your notes to be sure you haven't inadvertently omitted any outside sources.

Cite all sources. Some believe it's only important to cite direct quotes, but that's not true. You must also cite another's work if it is paraphrased or otherwise used in your paper. In preparing sources and bibliographies, be sure to use the preferred documentation system of your instructor. Your college library's website might have tools for creating footnotes and bibliographies.

Provide original ideas. Adequate sourcing on its own is not enough if your paper is nothing but a collection of ideas from others. 'Patchworking' is a form of plagiarism that involves quoting and paraphrasing the work of others without presenting unique thoughts. Rather than 'stitch together' others' ideas, synthesize source information with insight of your own to create original material.

Avoid pasting source material into your paper. Unless you are directly quoting (and citing) text from an outside source in your paper, don't paste others' work into your paper. It might seem efficient to paste information from an outside source in your work so it's easy to reference, but it's very easy to forget a piece of writing isn't your own and unintentionally leave it there.

Give yourself time. It's easy to make mistakes when you're stressed. The pressure to meet a deadline can lead to sloppy work, including unconsciously representing others' work as your own. Fatigue can play a role here, so avoid situations where you're staying up all night to write a paper. Instead, plan out your schedule so you have adequate time to do the necessary detail work on your papers.

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