Avid writer, Karen Wall, who is currently working on her doctorate degree at Argosy University, spoke to us recently about her encounters with plagiarism during her academic career, and how she avoids any chance of accidental plagiarism in her writing. The WriteCheck online plagiarism checker has proved to be so effective and easy to use that when she begins her teaching career, she plans to encourage her students to use it for their papers.
Listen (2:34 minutes):
WriteCheck: Could you tell me your full name, the institution where you’re studying, and any degrees you have or degrees that you’re working on.
Karen: My name is Karen Wall and I am currently in my doctoral program with Argosy University at the Inland Empire campus. The name of my degree is called and EDDCP, which is an educational doctorate in counseling psychology. Last summer I got my Masters in counseling psychology and right now I’m a marriage and family therapy intern, working on my hours for my licensure. I have an Associate’s Degree in pre-med studies from New Mexico Military Institute; a Bachelors of Science in biology from Texas Tech; a Bachelors, PD teaching degree in secondary science education from University of Hawaii; a BS in nursing from York College of Pennsylvania; and then the latest one was the Master’s from Argosy that I just got.
WriteCheck: When you started using WriteCheck, why did you feel that that was important?
Karen: Well, I’ve been doing APA (citation) since I was in nursing school. I had never heard about WriteCheck until the doctoral program in my advanced professional writing for dissertations. So when we were learning how to turn our papers in through Turnitin, I came across WriteCheck on the Turnitin website. A lot of what I write, even my original ideas or things I say end up sounding alike or the same as things that have been said decades before. It’s just the way I write. But I don’t want to get in trouble. So we were sitting in class one day and I said, well, let me give this a try, because I’m not going to open myself up to anything.
So I tried it on my first paper and then I saw what it did for me and I was like, wow, this great. So then I told my classmates. All six of the people in my class ended up getting WriteCheck and it saved them tons of work and tons of worry on their papers. I was really glad I could share that with them.
I like how I can just put it in there and in less than a minute, it’s giving me feedback on not only like if my stuff matched and what percentage of a match it is, but it also did the grammatical stuff, which is pretty cool. I’m good grammatically, but you never know. Somebody could always check again for you.
And another thing was it was – I think it’s pretty validating for me as a writer, because like I said, I write a lot, I love to write. For me to see where my paper comes up and what I’m seeing that is similar to other papers, most of my matches are just common words that you can’t change. So that’s pretty validating for me that I’m actually writing things originally and putting my thoughts down appropriately without plagiarizing or anything else that’s unethical in writing, and any matching content just has to do with basic grammar. So that puts my mind at ease.
WriteCheck: Were there any additional unforeseen benefits that you saw from using WriteCheck besides the grammar checker or was that kind of the big one?
Karen: Well, I know what my paper’s going to do before the instructor gets it, so I’m steps ahead of them. So by the time I turn it in to them online and it’s running through Turnitin, I’ve already done the checking on it, so I’m safe.
WriteCheck: There’s been a lot of retractions in the field of scholarly publishing and in particular, recently there have been a few articles out about medical research. What would you say if you could give a piece of advice to someone looking to publish in the medical field about the authenticity of their work and the importance of work originality?
Karen: Well, there are two sites to that. I am all for preventing plagiarism and preserving authenticity, because if you’re going to write, you have to use your own thoughts. Not only is it unethical, but it’s just not nice to use someone else’s ideas. That’s basically stealing. And I would really be afraid to know somebody was in my field who is a fake, who doesn’t have their own ideas and has to get their work from other people, because I’ve had that happen before. People have taken my ideas. I’ve loaned papers out and had people take my ideas, so I don’t loan my papers out anymore.
But then on the other side, as someone who writes and writes well and plans to write a lot, in some ways, all these rules that came out, there’s some of the creativity has gotten lost now because people are actually afraid to write. They’re afraid to write something that they think is an original idea and then it turns out, woops, they think I plagiarized. In fact, I had a classmate who had written a research paper for her job, all with original ideas, but the school said she plagiarized and she lost her job over it. She said she hadn’t, because she hadn’t even seen the original document they were referring to.
So there’s two sides to that coin. There’s positive and there’s negative, but you’ve got to take them both, because like I said, for those people who write and put the work into it, you don’t want somebody else taking our ideas and getting away with it. But then for those who write like us, that are original and want to put good stuff out there, to have to worry about, well shoot, if this is my idea and I submit it to somebody and they think I’m plagiarizing, then that looks bad on me.
So I would say anybody who’s doing any kind of writing, especially professional research, peer reviewed writing, you have to access to something that can check it for you. That way, even if I do find out, WriteCheck brings it up your results and I can see if that’s actually valid for me to change or not. For example, my statement here matched this person’s 10 years ago, but what it was, was the name of an organization. So I’m not worried anymore. So, I think that [WriteCheck] takes a lot of the weight off anybody who’s writing. Even the professional world, if you’re not in school, something like this helps put your mind at ease that what you are writing is actually original, or what you are writing – you may have forgotten that it was something you heard somewhere. So I think it’s a good tool to take away some of that stress and to really give credit to the people that have done the work. So I would say anybody professional writing, use something like this.
Karen: And it’s easy to use.
WriteCheck: Well, that was my next question. Are you – now I know that you’re completing your doctorate now – would you plan on using WriteCheck at all in the future?
Karen: Oh, good lord, yes. I’m a permanent member.
WriteCheck: We are glad to hear that.
Karen: See, one of my plans with my doctorate is, especially since it is in education, I plan to teach at the University level and this is going to be one of those things, when I do a syllabus, it’s going to be on there that you’re going to be required to have WriteCheck. I’m going to require that, because I don’t want to see my students getting in trouble when somebody, who’s supposed to be mentoring them, knew about something that could make their life easier, I’m not going to have them getting in trouble for what they write. And I’ll tell them, it’s a tax write-off. It’s a business expense, go ahead, get it, it’s worth it. It’s worth doing that, spending a little to do this, than losing your license or losing your career over it. So, yeah, I plan to use it for a very long time. As long as you’re around.
WriteCheck: Well, it sounds like it’s been very helpful, so we're glad to hear that.
Karen: I’m glad you guys are there for us.