Skilful writing and plagiarism avoidance
Writing as a skill
Writing and academic writing are skills and therefore need practising. No one is born a master. Aiming at skilful writing is improving your thinking and vice versa.
Practise to become a skilful writer
Notice risks of plagiarism
Know information-seeking techniques. Select authoritative sources. Gather sources into a reference manager. Copy-paste but keep them in a separate file and attach citings. Write notes with citings.
Copy-pasted parts from other sources are mixed with writings of your own. Source information is lost.
Reserve time for thinking, choosing your personal views on the topic. Write in own words without looking the reference or copy-pasted parts in the separate file.
Procrastination, not enough time for writing. Modifiying copy-pasted parts, too long quotations.
Give credit to the sources you use as support or an argument of your view. Cite and form a list of references with help of a reference manager.
Forgetting where the ideas came from. Managing citings and a reference list manually in the last minute.
Co-operate in good way, discuss, get feedback.
Make use of the help of peers, asking ready solutions.
Writing as a process
Every writing task is a process with several phases. In a short assignment phases take less time. Due dates between the phases help with time management. You can set the due dates for yourself or they can be set by the teacher. Instead of a single due date for an assignment, having several due dates for draft and final versions may be helpful. For a large paper, more steps can be added: e.g. rough draft, polished draft, final submission.
Picture. A model of a writing process by Lannon (2006) where Turnitin and a reference manager are added as tools. (Click the picture to enlarge it)
Information seeking and managing references
- A guide to Information-seeking by Aalto University Learning Centre includes the following themes:
- Decide where you store references before you start seeking information
- RefWorks is the reference manager supported by Aalto University Learning Centre.
- See a comparison of several reference managers in wikipedia
Handling references - examples of plagiarism and non-plagiarism
- Already when making notes from the original text, always summarise in your own words or mark quotations and citation when copied
- Keep the original texts and your own texts in separate places. A reference manager is a good place for the original texts of others.
- See examples of plagiarism and non-plagiarism published by University of Helsinki: Don't copy! Be a good writer! Instructions for Students
- Do a quiz about types of plagiarism
Co-operation in writing
- During writing it's good to ask feedback on drafts. Also discussing with peers can be fun and helpful. Learn to make good use of comments and the feedback you get. Do it from your point of view and in your own words.
- When writing a work together with a group, follow the criteria given for the work: what is your contribution to the work and what can you expect from others?
Lannon, J. M. 2006. Technical Communication. 10th ed. New York: Pearson Longman.