One major obstacle in University that students are facing for academic success is writing essays. Students often voice out their frustrations in doing research claiming that they do not know anything about a particular topic given to them. This frustration often leads students to find university essays done in the past to copy them. While there are advantages in looking for old student essays about a particular topic, students should be careful in falling into the plagiarism trap.
What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the act of stealing other people’s intellectual property, such as words and ideas, and then claiming them as your own. Universities treat plagiarism as a serious offence, and students caught with plagiarised materials often get an F on the assignment. Other Universities may not be as merciful and may expel a student caught plagiarising somebody else’s materials.
Outside the educational field, plagiarism may have different penalties. Submitting plagiarised ideas at work may permanently hurt your reputation, and you may end up losing your job.
Common Causes of Plagiarism in Universities
Many students end up submitting plagiarised materials for the following reasons:
- Procrastination. Students waited until the last minute to work on assigned research essays.
- Feelings of Inadequacy. Students do not feel that their ideas or opinions are good enough for submission.
- Sloppy Note Taking. Students failed to take down notes during lectures properly and therefore have no basis for their opinions or ideas.
- No In-text Citations. Plagiarism can be avoided by citing the ideas obtained from other sources within the essay’s body and not just in the bibliography.
- Misunderstanding What Plagiarism is. Students may be confused between paraphrasing and plagiarism. Paraphrasing is the use of your own words to explain somebody else’s ideas and opinions. Paraphrasing, especially when you completely change the wording, can pass as your original ideas and pass most plagiarism checkers.
Large universities may have developed their software to detect plagiarism. However, you can always run your essays through plagiarism sites, which give a decent job in checking for similar passages or phrases across the web. However, if you are using a plagiarism website, be sure to purchase the professional version.
Is it OK to Look for Old Student Essays?
If you wish to find university essays submitted before, there are many websites that either sell or use a sharing platform. Is it ethical to use old student essays? While universities and academic institutions may give harsh punishments for plagiarised work, they do not prevent students from using old essays as a part of research materials. However, you have to use these old essays properly to avoid submitting plagiarised work. Here are some tips on how to use old university essays.
- Only use the essays as a starting point for your essay.
- If you find the thesis statement or opinion of the previous author the same as yours, paraphrase the author’s ideas and opinions and interject some opinions that are more specific to your situation.
- If the essay contains in-text citations, check the original wordings of the sources. You may end up paraphrasing the previous essay’s wordings to end up with the exact verbatim of the original idea.
- If the essay lists different ideas that can be interchanged in order, do so with the essay that you are going to submit.
- If you can, create an introductory paragraph that will identify you as the author.
When you find a research topic that is too hard for you, you can always find university essays similar to the topic and base your research on them. However, remember to be careful not to plagiarise and use the essays only as a springboard for your ideas.