Have You Committed Plagiarism?

cheatBy Kelly Swanson

Stressed? Worried about making that final? Ready to cut the ultimate corner? You thought using Crib Notes was bad, think again. For a couple hundred dollars you can have someone write your masterpiece. For a thousand or so dollars you can have a writing agent create your papers for a year. Imagine never learning a thing, but getting an “A.” Does this sound too good to be true? Think again. It’s really true, highly unethical, and punishable by the honor council. That’s right T-Birds plagiarism is a profession! People are making millions of dollars a year in a multi-million dollar cottage industry, around the world, on the Internet.

Most recently, Erin Zlomek of BusinessWeek spoke to several B-School administrators about the problem and found that “recycled essays are the biggest problem we see,” says Carrie Marcinkevage, managing director of the MBA program at Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business. The tool of choice in thwarting these would be fraudsters’ is TurnitIn plagiarism detection software that is currently being used even at Thunderbird.  According to TurnitIn, “TurnitIn is used by over 10,000 schools and 20 million students [accounts]”. I was introduced to TurnitIn during my Business Communications class. It’s a rather simple software that reads the document, compares it to various databases of known works including other admission essays, essays, reports, dissertations, peer-reviewed studies, books, journals, and many other sources across the web, then assigns a grade point to your paper based on the likelihood that you have committed plagiarism.

Amazing tools exist on the Internet to help you with your documents. One of the main ways to avoid plagiarism is to cite your work. Give credit where credit is due. Just like in this article. I mentioned a direct quote I lifted from BusinessWeek. In the article I used the direct interviewed quote. By adding the Introduction text that “BusinessWeek spoke to…” and then adding a citation and a reference I avoid plagiarism by acknowledging the reference was from another source. Check out my references below for this article.

You might say this is a tool to help you stay out of trouble and it’s true. As a writer of Das Tor and author, I always have to be aware of using someone else’s work to avoid being accused of plagiarism. How I do this quickly is through the use of several tools myself:

BibMe.org – is an incredible tool that allows you to find or build a references list. It supports MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian formats. Its best feature is that it’s quick and provides citations in the proper format. Just paste in the title of a book or the address of the site you want to cite and it does the rest. Oh did I mention it’s FREE!

WorldCat.org – Same as BibMe with slightly different sources. Also FREE.

Writecheck.com – Is the best plagiarism, pay-as-you-go checking service I have found. It’s a student version of TurnitIn. It currently checks against 250 million student papers, 24 billion current and archived websites, and over 110,000 publications of all types. The service has an incredible grammar checker and offers professional tutors too. For just $7.95 a paper you can make sure yours is original and you have the proof that you checked it if ever accused of it.

T-Birds write a ton of papers, and you certainly have made a commitment to your work, so why not apply that same dedication to checking your paper to make sure you didn’t use someone’s thoughts. Interviews, direct or indirect quotes, and passages from the Bible must be cited if you’re going to use them in your paper. Some professors let you slide, but you’re only hurting yourself. Also don’t use too many citations or your paper is not original. As more ethical charges are brought against students the more liability the Universities and colleges will have to accept. Eventually they will stick to their policy and force students to abide by simple works cited and reference rules or face the possibility of a being sued for condoning that their students committed plagiarism.

Also if you’re unsure of how to format your paper, check out the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) resource at Purdue University. They offer the most up to date formatting rules used worldwide for MLA and APA. Thunderbird uses MLA format for all papers. Stay honest to yourself, your cohort, and others and remember the bird is the word!



“Overview.” iParadigms, LLC. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2013. <http://www.iparadigms.com/overview>.

Zlomek, Erin. “B-Schools Use Turnitin Software to Crack Down on Plagiarism – Businessweek.” Businessweek – Business News, Stock market & Financial Advice. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2013. <http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-04-18/b-schools-use-turnitin-software-to-crack-down-on-plagiarism>.

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