Academic writing is a vital and constant part of college life at U.S. universities. This is challenging for all students, but writing in a new language, studying in a different educational system, and living in another culture can bring unique challenges to an international student.
As a student, you will be required to write numerous essays, reports, and research papers. To save time and get high grades, you may be tempted to copy academic works from others or even seek out custom writing services for help.
To be clear, this is something you should never do when studying in the U.S. This is known as “plagiarism” in academia. It may lead to your expulsion and a ruined academic reputation.
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the process of stealing someone's work and representing it as your own. It's illegal, and it leads to penalties according to the policies of most American universities.
International students should understand that plagiarism is not just copying and pasting. The most common forms of plagiarism to avoid are:
Direct – when you rewrite someone else's text word-for-word, without attribution
Mosaic – when you borrow some phrases from someone's work, without quotation marks or attribution
Paraphrase – when you take someone's work, change the word order, and represent it as your own
Self – when you submit your previous work again or use parts of your previous writings to create a new one
Accidental – when you unintentionally copy or paraphrase someone's work without proper citation
What can happen to you if you plagiarize academic writings?
American educational institutions support and promote academic honesty, which means that all forms of plagiarism and cheating are prohibited and lead to penalties. Failing grades, suspension, or expulsion are the most obvious consequences, but there are others. If you plagiarize, you may:
-Tarnish your reputation
-Lose the trust of your teachers and peers
-Harm the authors from whom you steal
-Weaken the educational community
-Lose the ability to think critically
How to avoid plagiarism issues
Never copy other people’s works, never write essays for other students, and never forget to cite your sources. To do that, you must understand the difference between plagiarism and properly paraphrasing. It's OK to use synonyms or explain someone's ideas with your own words. When paraphrasing, you keep the original meaning but share personal thoughts about it. Use your own writing voice and style. Don't just change the order of the words without providing proper citations.
Also, follow the formatting guidelines from your professor. The American Psychological Association, The Modern Language Association, and The Chicago Manual of Style are all style guides that have strict rules about quoting and citing. You should know how to format citations in essays and other types of papers.
Don't forget to include a reference page at the end of your academic paper. A reference page is a list of published works you have used to support the arguments in your essay. You will need to learn how to format it correctly and how to refer to it from the body of your paper.
Before you submit an academic work to your professor, make sure to proofread and edit it. Check quotes and references one more time, double check for spelling and grammar mistakes, and read your essay aloud. This trick will help you to see if your writing flows and if there are any flaws you could change to improve it.
Don't think you can fool your professors! Believe it or not, they will know if you plagiarized your work. Reputable plagiarism checkers help them scan your writings and prevent dishonesty in academia. More than that, your professors know your essay writing skills, so they can easily guess who was the author of your paper: you or a friend of yours.
Plagiarism checkers are great tools for students too. They can help to scan writings and find any duplications before you submit your work to professors.
Lesley Vos, a private educator and online tutor, blogs for www.plagiarismcheck.org