Plagiarism to a 6th Grader

1 Nov

Can you remember being assigned to write a report in 3rd grade?  You went to a book, found a paragraph about the person/thing/place you were supposed to write about, and copied it.  Easy.  Maybe even an easy “A”.  Even easier is the way you can copy and paste from the Internet directly to Word.  But it’s not yours.  It never was.

Some students will define plagiarism as the “cutting and pasting”.  Yes, that’s correct, but only partially correct.  Plagiarism isn’t just stealing someone’s words (or music or art), but stealing their ideas.  When you make notes from a reference – a books, a website, a newspaper or a magazine – you usually paraphrase or rewrite the words into your own voice.  But using those notes in a paper can also be plagiarism, if you don’t credit the originator of the idea.

The key to staying honest in your work is to cite your sources.   Let your teacher and the world know that you looked at several different sources.  Show them the effort you put in to your work and be honest.  Plagiarism isn’t an easy “A” in high school.  It’s an easy zero.  Cite your work.  Include a bibliography.  Making the effort to put it in your words will help you far into your future.  Really!

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