Plagiarism can be a deadly thing. In college it can mean loss of scholarship, academic probation and even suspension or expulsion. In the business world it can mean losing your job and/or public humiliation. To the academic, the serious academic, plagiarism translates to laziness, ignorance and a lack of professionalism and integrity. Sometimes it can be a mistake, in instances such as forgetting to cite one sentence out of a 20 page essay where you cited every other sentence. Other times, it can be purposeful, when one feels that they can not find the words themselves and when pressured by a deadline, they use whatever they can find to fill space.
First and foremost, one tip to help avoid plagiarism is to start any assignment, whether that be school or work related, with a personal outline. Using your head and your knowledge, outline what you need to accomplish. For example, for this work assignment, I outlined that I wanted to start with how plagiarism can affect you and then follow with all of the tips I could think of, MYSELF, to avoid plagiarism. Your outline can look something like this:
- Introductory paragraph
- Include line on accidental vs. purposeful plagiarism
- Outline tips to avoid plagiarism
- Provide resources for citations
- Include personal statement
With creating an outline, you are giving yourself a puzzle to complete or a skeleton to work with. Once you have this foundation, it can be much easier to fill in the missing pieces.
Another tip to avoid plagiarism is to submit your writing to any “plagiarism checker.” There are advertisements on the radio constantly for things like Grammarly and Chegg that will let you know if any of your writing or work is plagiarized, which might be completely unintentional. However, as a professional, it is important to always make sure that your work comes off as that, your own.
Lastly, when writing anything, make sure you cite anything you found online or heard of. From statistics to a weather report to a joke from a famous comedian. Anything that you include that isn’t your own information, opinion or statement, make sure you properly cite. Fortunately, in this day and age, we have what are called “citation machines” so if you provide as little as a link or a magazine title, you can press a button and have a citation created for you.
Plagiarism is a mistake that anyone can make, even the most professional people. However, it should be a mistake that once made, you don’t repeat. Repeat offenders when it comes to plagiarism subsequently lose their integrity and reputation. If you have numerous instances of plagiarism, your workplace or school might not take you seriously anymore. Your word will have less value. That being said, if you’ve accidentally or intentionally plagiarized, I hope that you have learned and grown from that experience because that is what life is all about – learning from our mistakes and constantly growing and positively changing because of them.