Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a tough one because a student that blatantly copies versus a student who is trying to craft a new sentence may both be plagiarizing.

Here are some thoughts about it:

– Taking a thesaurus and just exchanging a word, will not do the trick.
A student needs to have a fairly vast vocabulary as well as the ability to
re-think the sentence in their own words without losing context. This is
hard; for everyone.

– There are not always six or seven ways to change a sentence. Some
sentences are hard to change either because it is a complex concept, with
few words to change with, or the idea behind the sentence cannot be
expressed any other way.

– When it is too difficult to craft a new sentence, I encourage the
student to just quote the source and give it ownership. There is nothing
wrong with citing a source.

– Sometimes, changing the words is not enough. A student may have to
provide an in-text citation regardless if they change the words or not.
This will refer to complex ideas in a reading that the writer would not
know.