Plagiarism - How To Avoid It
You need to understand that academic writing is a process fraught with contradictions: you are frequently asked to use your own words and ideas about subjects for which you not only lack expertise but are, in fact, in the process of learning. In addition, you are expected to access the thoughts and ideas of experts to bolster your argument. You are required to skillfully weave these ideas into your paper, so that everything flows smoothly, yet all the while keeping it crystal clear whose thoughts are whose. You are expected to write in your own style and your own voice, as long as it falls into the accepted norms of your discipline and/or the critical taste of your instructor. It's not easy, and it's not always clear-cut, but it is one of the processes that you are in school to master, and it will become more natural with practice. Keep in mind that if you have questions or uncertainties, faculty and other student support systems are here to help. In addition, read and utilize the strategies below.
- Find a topic that engages you by doing some background reading and discussing your research question with professors, librarians, and other students.
- Be familiar with the WSU definition of and policies concerning plagiarism.
- Be sure you understand your instructors' policies concerning plagiarism.
Gathering Research Materials:
- Allow time to make multiple trips to the library: start your research early and consult reference librarians to learn about the best research tools for your topic.
- Get extra sources: Get your research done early and get extra sources. You don't have to use them all, but if you find there is a source you can't use, you'll have back up.
- Expect it will take extra time to receive materials not available on your WSU campus: The Griffin, Summit and Interlibrary Loan systems make millions of resources available, but items not on your campus take from three days to two weeks to receive.
- Color code your notes: Be sure to distinguish between places where you are paraphrasing others' ideas versus directly quoting from a source.
- Use author and page notation: Make sure that every note you take is connected to the source's author and page number. In addition, keep a running bibliography of complete citation information for each source used.
- Keep a research log: It is helpful to keep a log of the catalogs, indexes, and databases you have consulted during the research process along with search terms used. This will help prevent repetitive searching.