The Internet is certainly a wonderful thing. It has allowed us to stay informed about the political upheavals of countries thousands of miles away, stay connected with friends and family across oceans, take part in the latest viral dance craze, and of course, lets students from around the world obtain a degree by removing barriers like time and place. Because of the availability of resources at our disposal, we can find information on any topic, in any language, from any time, with the tap of a button through the 634 million websites available.
But like all good things, it can be misused. The sheer volume of accessible and free sources at our fingertips has provided for increased confusion and error, giving even greater rise to plagiarism than ever before. Plagiarism is considered the unattributed use of intellectual property protected under U.S. law (you can read more about that here). And while colleges and universities have serious disciplinary action policies regarding plagiarism, the practice can also prevent you from developing key writing skills.
Whether intentional or accidental, plagiarism can be avoided by simply including citations and acknowledging any borrowed content. Here are 5 essential tools to help you avoid plagiarism and ensure your work is original and accurate:
An online plagiarism detector, TurnitIn.com provides an originality report identifying any feedback or information that alludes to non-original work, even if the text has been reworded or reformatted. Typically a paid service, it is accessible for free to enrolled Thomas Edison State University students taking online courses. TurnitIn.com allows you to not only see your slip-ups and clean them up on your own, but the final originality report can also be submitted to your mentor as evidence of your efforts.
Another online tutorial service, Thomas Edison State University students registered in courses can use this tool for free. Live, expert educators are available to provide you writing assistance and personalized feedback on your work. To allow for the live nature of this resource, submit your drafts at least 48 hours in advance to receive your review.
Similar to the previous two tools, WriteCheck.com is another fee-based plagiarism checker, offering an analysis of your content, citations and sources cross-referenced with other works. The service also offers a grammar check to ensure a proper writing style, as well as professional tutoring services to critique your submissions.
More an option than a tool, Thomas Edison State University’s Request for Course Extension form can be obtained through your mentor if you require more time to complete an assignment because of an illness, financial difficulty or military deployment. You can use the 8-week extension time valuably to review and edit your paper on your own by conducting a Google search on select passages.
A resource that provides more how-to’s and explanations than services, Plagiarism.org describes different citation styles and a glossary of terms, while also providing guides on how to cite your resources, paraphrase, use quotes and more. If you are unsure about a source, plagiarism.org can give you a definitive answer.
Whether you are answering a question on a discussion board, or submitting a lengthy, footnoted research paper, you should be proud of what you have written; it is a reflection of you. Using the resources available to you to help critique your work can be an immense confidence booster when that final grade comes in. Ultimately, every writing assignment will help you develop and sharpen the writing skills necessary to lead you on the educational and professional paths of success that you have already begun by becoming a college student.