Plagiarism and How to Avoid It


Students soon discover that writing papers and doing projects can involve quite a bit of work. Unfortunately, some students try to reduce their academic workload by copying material for their papers and other assignments from classmates or other sources. Some have reduced the entire operation to a simple copy-and-paste procedure taking just a few minutes.
The educational establishment objects to this practice, however, because such methods subvert the learning process. Assignments are designed as learning experiences, but nothingof any value is learned through copying someone else's work. That's why colleges and universities make such a point of clarifying--and enforcing--their policies on plagiarism (see below).
In the larger sense, plagiarism is frowned upon in just about any setting one can mention. Reputations and careers have been damaged by attempts to "borrow" thoughts and ideas from others and represent them as original. Copyrights, patents and other ways of protecting "intellectual property" exist primarily to keep that kind of thing from happening.

Another problem is that in so many cases, the sciences particularly, blindly copying the work of others leads to the perpetuation of myth and misinformation. Thorough research tends to reveal the differences of opinion on a given topic, and without this kind of responsible scholarship, people are likely to represent all kinds of nonsense as factual and accurate.

This WebQuest will make you aware of the issues involved and show you how to avoid this major "gotcha" in academic life and beyond.
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The Task

The task is to research the issue of plagiarism and become aware of how the larger world views it. You will then go on to see how to avoid plagiarism by following the proper procedures in doing research and citing the sources of your information and other material.

The task, then, is to write a well researched and thoroughly documented paper on the topic. Be sure to keep up with all the sources of your information and cite them in proper MLA style on your Works Cited page.
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The Process

The first step is to become familiar with the topic. The Resources section below will guide you to the information. Pay particular attention to the sites you consult. You'll need to cite them later.

The next step is to write your paper. Since this is a research paper, the assumption is that almost every fact (and even most of the opinions) came from another source. They all need to be cited.
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Recent Articles on Academic Dishonesty Articles on Grade Inflation
(Why cheat if your grade is inflated anyway?) Plagiarism-Related Organizations and Sites How to Avoid Plagiarism
(It's really pretty easy)
Policy Statements from University English Departments
(Think they don't care? And this is a very partial list!)
A Few Dissenting Views (for the Sake of Balance)

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Your paper will be evaluated on the basis of how thoroughly you have researched the issue of plagiarism and how completely you have documented your paper (cited your sources). Be sure to use the proper form, not just something you made up or that "seems right" to you.

NOTE: Be careful here.
What was "good enough" in another setting might not do here. An old saying goes like this: There are thousands of ways to be wrong but only one way to be right.
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You'd be surprised how many people have been tripped up by plagiarism. Maybe this project will keep you from being one of them!
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Designed by Michael Byers
Orange High School
Hillsborough, NC
Last updated June, 2008.
Based on a template from The WebQuestPage

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