assignment

Avoid Plagiarism & Maintain your Academic Integrity by Lisa Pfau & Patricia Huang

PFAU 11 comic book thick edited final 01 Avoid Plagiarism & Maintain your Academic Integrity by Lisa Pfau & Patricia Huang

 

Recently a well-known and prize winning American poet was accused of plagiarism by her contemporaries and her reputation completely sullied. Plagiarism is a major academic offense, and a very common mistake made by 1st Year Undergraduate students. In order to avoid a failed assignment or scary encounter with your Professor, there a few things that you can do to protect your academic integrity:

 

When in doubt, cite: Although you can be penalized for citing too much (ongoing debate among Law students), that is a far better offense than citing too little or not at all. You will not be kicked out for being honest about your unoriginality. Thus, if you think that the ideas that you are using in your essay are based upon someone else’s, make sure to cite the article or book that you got them from. Citations are not just for quotations, but paraphrasing as well. Paraphrasing means taking someone else’s words or ideas and putting them into your own. It is often taught in lower grades that paraphrasing can be presented as your original thoughts, but once you get into university and college paraphrasing without a reference is a serious offense. The main idea of a book, the argument/theory in an academic article, or a discussion by your Professor in class needs to referenced. Generally any evidence you are using to prove your point needs to be cited. If you are still unsure about whether or not your are plagiarizing, Turnitin.com has an interesting quiz where you can test yourself. Your analysis of the data is where you have a chance to be creative and present some original work of your own. In other words, you take other’s information and thoughts and provide your own opinion about them. If you are really creative, maybe someone else will cite you one day!

 

Consult a Style Guide: Another thing to watch out for when referencing material in your essay is the referencing style. Different faculties and departments use different referencing guidelines. The Social Sciences, for example, tend to use APA/ASA style, while Historians prefer Chicago Style and the English department sticks to MLA. If you are confused about the difference between these different referencing guidelines, it is best to consult a style guide and confirm with your TA/Professor. You can usually find reputable style guides in your university or college bookstore, or else online with a quick Google search. Look for one’s that have been published by or reviewed by academic institutions to determine their accuracy and relevance. One of my favorites is OWL Purdue. I find it easy to follow and comprehensive. I also really like how they give you the citation format for both in-text and bibliography, as well as a real example of what the citation would look like when input into your essay.  it is a resources I suggest to all of my First-Year students.

 

Take detailed research notes from the start: Many students avoid putting in citations because they find it tedious, or have lost their references. They read books and articles and know the main ideas, but haven’t noted exact page numbers or even the source while doing their research. Then, when it’s time to write the paper, they remember the content, but not where they have gotten it from. At this point, citing sources seems like a big pain in the butt.

 

The best way to make citing easy is to take detailed research notes that include the authors name, date, text (if you are using the same author more than once), and page number in one notebook/document that is solely dedicated to your research essay. Every time I write down a quote or paraphrase an idea while reading a text, I write down a simple citation in brackets after each note, even if it’s from the same author and on the same page. It is unlikely that I will remember those details later when I’m writing up the paper.

 

It is also a good idea to add any materials that you are think relevant to your bibliography immediately. Many university/college libraries have software, such as RefWorks, to help you to organize your research materials and automatically generate bibliographies. Most libraries also provide free courses on how to use the library system and citation software throughout the year.  You can usually find this out by consulting your university library information desk.

 

Don’t risk your academic integrity! Cite any and all ideas that you believe not to be your own. Referencing others work gives credit where credit is due, as well as, helps you to engage in the ongoing academic conversation in a respectful and professional manner.

KICK PROCRASTINATION OUT OF YOUR MIND!! By Lisa Pfau & Patricia Huang

PFAU 9 comic book edited final 01 LARGE KICK PROCRASTINATION OUT OF YOUR MIND!! By Lisa Pfau & Patricia Huang

“Procrastination may not take up a lot of effort physically…but it takes over the mind!” ~ Stephen Hall

 

To be honest, I procrastinated writing this post about procrastination…

…I put away my dishes. I filled my water bottle. I searched up some good music. I adjusted my writing lamp. I even posted a quote about procrastination to Instagram. An hour and half later here I am finally putting words on paper.

 

Procrastination seems to take little effort, but pretty quickly it becomes a job in itself, taking real effort avoiding the task at hand and filling it with other unproductive and likely unnecessary activities. So, what can you do to kick procrastination out of your head?

 

“Whatever form of procrastination comes in, learn to identify it, root it, and kick it out! ~ Jim Howard

 

Procrastination usually comes in for me in the form of small little administrative tasks or detailed searches on Google or unnecessary tidying or straightening up.  When I feel like I’m really busy scurrying around, but not really getting anything substantial done, I know that I’m procrastinating. I tend to do this when I’m nervous about a tasks or imagine it to be more difficult or painful than it is in reality, such as writing this blog post! Yeah, writing a blog post takes work, but once I get going it usually just flows. It’s the getting started that takes 80% of the effort. Fortunately, there are a few things I can do in those moments to get me back on track:

 

  • POSITIVE SELF-TALK: If I’m already worried about something, beating myself up about dragging my feet to face it will only make me want to avoid it more. Instead, I try to take a moment to be with my anxiety, acknowledge it, and reassure myself that it’s not as bad, hard, scary, whatever as I dream it to be. I also remind myself how many times in the past I have faced a similar situation and been successful. Finally, I even acknowledge that procrastination is normal, and take a deep breath and get started. As I said in the previous paragraph, getting started is often the hardest part.

 

  • I START: Even if I only finished part of what I planned for that day, I feel like I achieved something. Sometimes just putting pen to paper for 10 minutes is enough for me to get over the original obstacle that was holding me back and fueling my procrastination. Then, the next day it is much easier to get to work immediately because those 10 minutes helped to restore my confidence and reduce my stress. Instead of staring into a blank overwhelming abyss of possibility; there is something on paper and the finished post suddenly seems only a few keystrokes away.

 

  • BREAK BIG PROJECTS INTO SMALLER TASKS: Writing 50+ blog posts can seem overwhelming, but if I break it down into one blog a week that seems doable. Now, that I had a timeline, I can also start thinking of topics that might fit that time of the school year and plan ahead (in other words, use my usual procrastinating tactic of list making for good). This planning ahead will prevent me from getting trapped by my incessantly need to research and generate ideas when I’m avoiding writing an essay. No need to think of a topic for that week because I already have one planned out in advance. I can even break each blog post into parts (opening hook, introduction/personal story, tips, closing statement). Then, if I can’t get the whole post done at once, I can at least finish one section at a time.

 

  • SET DEADLINES: My blog post needs to be up every Wednesday morning at 6:00am, so I need to finish it before then. Granted, it is currently 9:45pm on Tuesday night, so I’m not setting the best example. But, come on, technically I still have 8 more hours to get it done. Of course, this situation tonight is not ideal and highly ironic given the topic of this post, but having a weekly deadline at least forces me to get it done. I also add other boundaries, such as my office closing at 10pm and not taking my computer home, so actually I only have 10 more minutes to finish up. But still, if I can’t finish by 10pm and I’m really stuck, I can take my computer home with me on the subway and keep working.  Not ideal, but it sure beats a 5:00am scramble. Setting mini-deadlines leading up to the big deadline can help to prevent an overwhelming scramble and poor job at the last minute.

 

  • REWARD YOURSELF: After I’m finished this post, in the next 5 minutes, I’m going to head home to watch a cheesy show about a Mountie and teacher in the early 1900s Western Canada on Netflix. The best part of all of that is that once I submit this post, it will be completely off my mind and I can enjoy my tv time and have a restful sleep without worrying about how I’m going to wake up at 5:00am to finish my post. Procrastinating by watching Netflix is fun too, but whatever you’re avoiding is lurking in the back of your mind, infringing on your R&R. It’s so much nicer when you can really enjoy a reward AFTER completing a task instead of  using it as a distraction.

 

Yeah, so we all know a lot of these tips.  In fact, you may be procrastinating by reading this article on procrastination RIGHT NOW!  That’s totally what I would do. Oh well…no one is perfect.  We’re all a work in progress. In fact, I went back the next day to edit this post one more time after it was online because I noticed some typos.

It takes time to break old habits and replace them with old ones (20-something days according to many lifestyle programs), so congratulate yourself for taking the first step and realizing you have a problem that you want to change.  Use that procrastination moment to your benefit and start to implement some of these simple steps to get yourself back on track. Just start, do your best, and let go… That’s really all we can do every day. 🙂

 

Both the written and visual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and Patricia Huang. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely. 🙂