Writing a research paper is one of the most important parts of the entire degree for a student. No matter what is the caliber of the student, writing a research paper is always a daunting task. No student can take the risk of taking the task of writing the research paper lightly. Taking up a master’s degree or a PhD degree is a huge undertaking in itself. On top of that, the task of writing the research paper makes it even more complex. It is very important for the students to be on the right track while writing the research paper. When you start writing a research paper, it poses different challenges for you. You need to gather a mountain of information and then also provide evidence to make your arguments and eventually your paper stronger. It is necessary for the student to draw upon the already established ideas and theories, but at the same time, the student needs to make sure that he remains extra cautious and does not fall in the trap of plagiarism.
One needs to understand what plagiarism actually is. Strictly speaking, plagiarism is the unethical practice of using ideas or words of some other author without proper acknowledgment. Even if you have used some of your own previous work without acknowledgment, it can be called plagiarism at times. Before beginning to write the research paper, the student must understand the intensity of this offense. Plagiarism is considered a very serious offense in serious and intellectual terms and it can result in some serious negative consequences and results for the students. Apart from the loss of reputation that a person loses on being accused of plagiarism, there are some other consequences as well… ranging from paper retractions and loss of credibility as an author. Plagiarism is one of the main reasons for papers to be retracted.
Therefore, it is really important for the students to know all that they can about plagiarism. One needs to understand that people do not just see plagiarism as an offense, but it is seen as something immoral, unethical. Plagiarism is something that can really disgust anyone who reads the research paper. People look down upon plagiarism. At times, plagiarism can even cost the student his degree. And the problem with plagiarism is that most of the students commit it unintentionally. Since the students are not aware of what is called plagiarism, they keep committing it and they do not even realize that they are committing it. Moreover, since the degree is on the line, no one should take this risk. The student should prepare himself beforehand as to how you can avoid plagiarism. Most of the students commit plagiarism when they include specific sections of an article that they are citing. The students simply copy/paste the sections instead of rephrasing them. When you include some information that is not your idea in your research paper, you should make sure that you mention the source of that information in the research paper. Also, you should never mention the information exactly as it is written in the piece from where you are taking it up. To many people, plagiarism is as bad as theft. Obviously, you do not want people to be thinking about something like that when you give them your dissertation you read. After so many years of research, the worst thing that can happen to a masters’ student to see an expression of disgust on the face of checker just because he unintentionally mentioned a few lines from an article in his research paper. So, make sure that there is no element of plagiarism in your research paper before you submit it. In the simplest of words, the student should know that plagiarism is the worst thing that he can commit, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It leaves a very bad impression on the checker. It tells them that the student himself does not believe in his ability to write the research paper himself or to conduct the research himself… which is obviously not what a student wants the checker to think.
Therefore, the student should take all the precautionary measures as to avoid plagiarism in the research paper. Some of the measures that the students can take are as follows:
The first step towards writing a research paper is collecting the information to be written or used. Although, this is also not something easy sooner or later, every student gathers the information that he finds appropriate to be used in his research paper. There is plenty of information available on the internet today that helps the students in every possible way. But once the student has got this information, it is very important for him to understand that he cannot put it in his research paper as it is. The student needs to understand that the project he is working on is 'his' research paper and the teacher who will check it will presume that it is the student's very own research that he is reading, and not some already existing research. Therefore, it is the job of the student to make him believe so.
When you find the information, make sure that you paraphrase it into your own words and then put it into your own research paper. It is very important to do so. If you don’t paraphrase, you will come across to the teacher as a student who is not capable enough to write his own research paper… as someone who is not proficient enough for the degree that he is undertaking. As already mentioned above, plagiarism can easily disgust the checker or the teacher. Make sure that you don't copy verbatim more than two words in a row from the piece of information that you have found. However, if you do use more than two words together from one row, make sure that you use quotation marks, otherwise, it will be considered as plagiarism.
One of the most used and most significant ways by which the student can avoid plagiarism is by reference. In this method, the student can include a reference page or a page of works cited at the end of the research paper. But when the student does so, he should keep in mind the formatting guidelines. It is really important that the student uses these formatting guidelines correctly. It is imperative that the page that the student includes at the end of the research meets the document formatting guidelines. If it does not meet the formatting guidelines, the referencing will be nothing but a waste. This information is generally very specific. It included the author's name, the date of publication, title and the source of the information. The student needs to follow the directions on the page very carefully.
The reason why most of the students coming plagiarism in their research papers are that they read and write at the same time. The students prefer having the source of information that they have found right next to them while writing the research paper. But the students need to understand that this is what causes the plagiarism in the first place. When you read the information just before writing about it in your research paper, no matter how much you try to paraphrase, there will be a reflection of the parent body of information. Therefore, it is better than the student reads the text or the piece of information that he is considering first. No matter how many times it has to be read, the students should make sure that they know and understand it by heart. Once the student knows it by heart, only then it is possible for him to truly paraphrase and write the information in his own words. If you think that you will read a paragraph and ten minutes later, you will be able to write the information down in your research paper without reflecting the parent source, you are highly mistaken. No matter how hard a student tries, if he has just read a piece of information, there will be traces of it in his mind and these traces ultimately reflect in the research paper and the student can be accused of plagiarism, which is exactly what he is trying to avoid.
This is one other way for a student to avoid plagiarism while writing the research paper. However, while quoting also, there are some things that a student needs to keep in mind. When a student quotes a source, he should use the quote exactly the way it appears. It is imperative for the student to get the quote exactly correct. Nobody wants to be misquoted. Moreover, misquoting someone can be seen as a very silly mistake on the part of a master's degree student. These types of mistakes are not generally expected of a master's student. At the same time, the student needs to keep in mind that he cannot just fill his research paper with quotes. Most of the institutions of higher learning do not like quotes of more than forty words. This is where paraphrasing comes into play. The institute or the checker expects the student to paraphrase. They expect the student to grasp the meaning of a quote and effectively include that in the research paper in his own words. Obviously, the process of paraphrasing the information into your own words can take time, but the student needs to understand that it is the correct way to go about. And no matter how much time it takes, it pays off well.
This might sound odd to some of the students, but you are not even allowed to use your own work in a research paper. In simpler words, if there is some research of some other form of your work that you did in the past and you want to use it in a research paper, you are not allowed to do so unless you cite that work. Whenever you use some work of your own that you did in the past, make sure that you cite it. It is imperative for the student to treat this text as he would if someone else would have written it. It has to be cited exactly the way in which a different text or source would have been cited. If the student fails to do so, it is called 'self-plagiarism' and it is just not acceptable. Moreover, since it is the student's own work that we are talking about, most of the students do not even think twice before using it in their research paper. But it is important for them to know about all the rules and implement them correctly while doing the research paper.
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