Academic Dishonesty is a Serious Problem

Across the country, numerous colleges and universities are cracking down on academic dishonesty and plagiarism. From community colleges to ivy league institutions, cheating is rampant, and the only fair response is to fail dishonest students or reject them from campus.

Of course, not every student who is caught committing academic dishonesty is intentionally taking advantage of their instructors. It can be surprisingly easy to commit plagiarism unwittingly, if you have not been taught how to avoid it. Unfortunately, even a single occurrence of plagiarism can be enough for a student to flunk out or be expelled from a university, particularly if the incident is egregious enough.

How can you avoid plagiarism allegations? It’s actually quite simple, once you know the key steps. Below are a few of them.

Never Copy and Paste Text

To err on the side of caution, never copy and paste text from a source to a blank text document. You may want to collect a quote, informative paragraph, or other interesting perspective from the internet, but it simply isn’t worth the risk. You may forget to cite the source, or you may get distracted, step away from your computer, and forget that you did not write the material that you have copied. Several high profile journalists and op ed writers have come under serious plagiarism allegations because they accidentally copied someone else’s writing and passed it off as their own unique work. You can’t make this mistake if you refuse to ever copy another person’s work word for word.

Learn to Synthesize and Summarize

Never copy the core ideas of another written work, even if your wording is slightly different. After all, copying someone’s ideas and basic message can count as plagiarism, especially if you are in a literary analysis or criticism class. Instead, read a number of opinions from a variety of sources, and think deeply about how all the things you’ve read fit together before beginning to write. Make something entirely new out of the existing material you have read. Do not simply rehash old statements and notions that someone else has published. Form your own novel ideas.

Check for Plagiarism

Run your essay or research paper through plagiarism checking software programs, to make absolutely certain you have not accidentally copied material. Many of these software programs are available for free or for cheap, so there is no reason not to double check your work before you submit.