By LaRene Wentworth
Strange as it may seem, plagiarism hasn’t always been viewed as a no-no. There was a time in history when it was encouraged to copy the masters. The great mentors of the Renaissance period instructed young writers to immerse themselves in the writings of others, to take from them and to collaborate with their peers. Perhaps encouragement of this nature is still needed to help students find their own writing style.
Today, we are all told — “Do not plagiarize! It’s a crime!” Most students understand the basic concept of not stealing another writer’s work. However, when it comes to giving reference to another writer’s work, many first-year students only remember, “When in doubt, cite it out.” This is not enough writing knowledge to keep you out of trouble. If you’re going to survive college without plagiarizing, you need to get yourself some SKILL.
First, If you don’t know how not to plagiarize, talk to your English teacher. We do have professors here who would welcome an open conversation with an engaged, proactive student. Be honest, even if you’re embarrassed. Most educators are aware that this generation has been set up to fail. You probably didn’t get the instruction you needed because it wasn’t in the state lesson plan. Okay, so that happened. Take charge of your education. Have pride.
Secondly, There are many resources online that can help you self-educate. YouTube is terrific for quick tutorial videos. You can type in “avoiding plagiarism” or “academic dishonesty,” and many choices for help will be at your fingertips. Also, right here at your college, in the Learning Commons, an entire section called the Writing Center is devoted to tutoring students with challenges they might be experiencing. Don’t forget you can also go to your library for help! The librarians are waiting to assist you. In just a few minutes, they can show you how to navigate the My Learning portal on the school website. Here you can find research material and help with citing and formats.
In conclusion, plagiarism has a lot of gray areas — even the most skilled writers have difficulty keeping up with all the rules. However, there is no excuse for committing the crime of plagiarizing. There is no shame or judgment in having open conversations about the process and rules required to become a writer with integrity. Become a confident writer. Let your writing voice be heard.