It Is Critically Important To Write A Research Paper In Your Own Words!

        Over the years that I've been teaching, I've seen more and more student papers that were obviously plagiarized.  Plagiarism is a growing trend that is most likely occurring due to the ease of cutting and pasting sections of articles found on the internet.  In many cases I suspect students are not even reading what they are cutting and pasting!  Plagiarism is defined as willfully copying another author's work verbatim.  It is analogous to claiming another person's invention as your own.   Plagiarism is a form of intellectual property theft.  Many students may not even be aware that they are "stealing".  It is just too easy for students to select text from a document and include them as their own in a research paper.  And too many teachers are not punishing students who do plagiarize.  One of the most glaring bits of evidence of plagiarism is the use of words that a student obviously does not understand liberally peppered throughout the paper.  Or the student writes in a style that is too sophisticated for their degree of knowledge on a subject.  Students who get into the habit of plagiarism will run into big trouble as they progress through their academic years, and nor will they learn the skills necessary to write an effective research paper.  Today, many secondary schools, colleges, and universities employ internet based databases to search for plagiarized work in student papers.  The penalties are often grim.  Universities have been known to expel students who have been caught using the work of other authors.   

                It may be more difficult and time consuming to write a paper in one's own words, but consider the consequences.  Most teachers will recognize plagiarism immediately and should flunk the student.  Instead of failure and frustration, a student should learn the basics of researching, outlining, and finally writing a first and final draft.  To  produce a successful research paper, a student needs to understand what they have written about; and the writing should coherently communicate that understanding to the reader. Learning to write well takes practice, but it is well worth the effort.  I believe that good writing begins with a strong interest in reading.   Reading develops a  broad vocabulary and exposes the student to a wide range of voices and writing styles.  Writing tends to be much easier and more fun when the student has a wide gamut of words to describe what he or she means.  And a personal literary voice comes more easily to the student who is well read.  Take your time, and don't be afraid to make mistakes.  The risks of making mistakes learning to write in your own words are inconsequential compared to the risks of being caught plagiarizing.