Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On Writing Term Papers and Plagiarism

Posted by Josette

We groan and complain when given assignments to do at the beginning of the semester. We’re lucky if we only need to write a minimum of 5 pages. Usually, we have to write around 8 to 12 pages for one assignment but the lazy me always writes the minimum number of pages. Due to my extreme laziness, lack of motivation, and my talent at procrastinating, I ALWAYS end up writing my papers the day before its due date. I hope to change this bad habit starting next semester!

Because I frequently write the minimum number of pages, my grades are only average. I believe that if I wrote more until the maximum number of pages, then I think I *might* get better grades. But in the end, it’s always the quality that counts and not the quantity. It depends on how you put your own ideas in your paper, how you elaborate and argue your points, how you organize them, how relevant they are to the main topic and so on.

In the beginning, I didn’t really understand what a term paper was. Fortunately, my sister lent me a book on writing research papers and after reading it halfway, I got an idea on how to get started. The book guided me on how to research for information, how to write outlines, how to write a bibliography, etc. You can find such books at your library too. I saw some at my university’s library and they’re just as informative. Too bad not many students bother to borrow them. I don’t think they even know that there are such books! But do borrow and read them so you’ll be ready for your next term paper.

Anyway, are you familiar with the word ‘plagiarism’? Look it up in your dictionary. I do hope you know that it’s kind of illegal to ‘copy and paste’ your term papers. Some students are very smart when doing this. They find information from various sources, usually from websites, and they combine them together. They then ‘forget’ to list out the sources in the bibliography section. If you’re using someone else’s work in your paper, it’s always a good idea to cite them to let your lecturer know that it’s not written by you. In fact, you only cite when you want to further prove your points.

Your lecturer wants to read what YOU wrote. They want to know what and how you think, how you argue your points. They want to know what YOU think on the topic given. Unfortunately, some students nowadays don’t write the papers themselves. They plagiarize instead and half of the time, they don’t realize that what they’re doing is wrong. Some even plagiarize for presentations.

Lecturers do warn students about plagiarizing and the consequences if they’re caught. They’ll also know if you do copy other people’s work. Remember, they have been lecturers for many years and have read a lot so they’ll definitely find out if it’s an original piece of work or if it’s been copied.

To be on the safe side, just don’t plagiarize and remember to cite your sources. Start your homework as soon as possible. Start doing your work the day you’re given the assignment. Do a little bit every day and before you know it, you might have completed your paper well before the due date. You’ll actually be given weeks to write your paper. Don’t be like me and most of the other students, cramming to write as much as possible one day before due date!


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