Avoid Plagiarism: Take Good Notes

Most students have heard of plagiarism, and most also understand that plagiarism can have serious academic consequences (more about plagiarism in a later blog post). Many students, however, don’t have a good grasp of how to avoid plagiarizing even when they are trying not to. One strategy you can use is to take good notes while you are conducting your research.

How can you use note-taking to reduce your risk of plagiarism?
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Database Search Basics

You have a paper or project to do, and your teacher wants you to include academic “research.” In this post, I’ll show you some tips and tricks for getting the most out of the time you spend. A lot of students find the mechanics of database research to be overwhelming–by the end of this post, you should feel more confident.

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Peer Reviewed, Academic, and Reputable Sources: What the Heck are They and How Do I Find Them?

If you’re writing a college-level research paper, most likely your instructor has told you that you must use a certain type of “source.” The language used to describe these sources varies, but in general, your teacher expects you to use high-quality sources for the information in your paper. Let’s take this concept apart so you have a better understanding of exactly what your teacher expects.

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How is College Writing Different?

In one of my earliest blog posts, Learning to Write Well: Why Bother?, I wrote that you will likely need to be able to write effectively throughout your life, whether that’s for professional or personal reasons. Writing for college classes, however, is a very specific type of writing that requires a specific skill set. A lot of students come into college missing at least some of these skills. In a later post, I will talk about imposter syndrome and why students enter college with varying levels of preparation, but for now, just know that a lot of students enter college these days without the skills they need to write a successful college paper. That’s literally the reason this blog exists.

Not knowing what’s expected of your academic writing in college is not a measure of intelligence; it is a measure of preparedness and understanding.

So let’s get started.

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How long does my paper have to be?

Hand to heart, the honest answer to this question is “as long as it needs to be.”

I know that isn’t the answer that you wanted. But it’s the truth. If you’ve been given a page length or word count, that’s because, in your teacher’s experience, that’s how much space it takes to make a decent response to the writing prompt they’re giving you. It’s never a magic number, let alone a guaranteed grade.

Let’s stop for a minute and talk about what your teacher hears when students ask that perennial question: “how long does it have to be.”

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Writing Prompts: Understanding what the teacher wants (3/3)

This post is a continuation of Writing Prompts: Understanding what the teacher wants (1/3) and Writing Prompts: Understanding what the teacher wants (2/3)

Third Example: Literary Analysis/Response

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