Preventing Plagiarism: Tips and Techniques by Laura DeSena

The Rewards of Original Thinking

  • Students often approach writing assignments with a fear of being wrong. They need to know that when you engage in analysis, there are many answers and who is to say which ones are correct. It’s important that students discover their preconceived notions and compare or contrast them to original sources. After they wrestle with primary sources, they will better appreciate secondary sources. We must require them to contribute something rather then merely regurgitating facts and someone else’s ideas.
  • One form of plagiarism is taking a scholar’s thesis and presenting it as your own. If after one forms an opinion, finding a scholar who agrees only enhances the work. It is also important to balance opinion with evidence as many students often have too much of one and not enough of the other. Most quotes should come from primary sources, while secondary sources should be summarized or paraphrased. Failing to cite a source is another kind of plagiarism.
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