WriteCheck Blog

Paraphrasing is an intimidating thing to master when it comes to writing essays. Though there are many situations where a direct quote is useful, an essay that quotes too heavily or has too little original writing not only shows little mastery of the subject, but also does a poor job at conveying information from disparate sources.

As such, it’s important to master paraphrasing as it is a way to share the ideas and knowledge of others while still speaking in your voice. Read more to learn how to paraphrase and how to be a better writer and communicator.

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Published on by jbailey.

In our last Ok or Not? Poll, we asked: Is it ok to have the majority of the assignment consist of quotes? Kimberly Standifer commented that it is not ok because students should follow the 80/20 rule of 80% of the paper being original and 20% being quoted. While not a hard and fast rule, the 80/20 rule provides a framework for original writing that students can follow in their papers. In some cases however, a researcher may build upon previous work may discuss existing literature at length. At a certain point, it is up to you to discuss with your instructor what is acceptable. 

This month's Ok or Not? Poll explores a different issue around the use of your own essay. Given that essay questions can be similar and you may have previous original work on those same ideas, is it ok to submit your own essay or large chunks of it for comparable assignments across your classes? Voice your opinion in this monthly poll.

Ok or Not? Poll
You submit an original essay you wrote for multiple assignments in different classes. Ok or Not?

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Published on by kennethb.

Students have long used technology to help them cheat in the classroom. Whether it’s email, message boards, social networking sites, private text messaging circles or even apps like Snapchat, students have long used technology as a means to cheat on assignments. Though technology can be used by students to cheat, read how it is also making academic dishonesty easier to detect, stop and prove.

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Published on by jbailey.

You are deep in study for a test or researching in preparation for writing a paper, and you stumble across BLIMMIX, a word with which you are totally unfamiliar. You don’t want to stop and get out your dictionary (Why? What have you got against dictionaries? See below.). Does this mean you’re going to have to carry on reading, hoping the word wasn’t all that important anyway? Read the rest of the article to find out some tips on how to navigate these tricky words.

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Published on by Guest.

In this month's Ask WriteCheck column, a parent asks about the use of handwritten class notes for assignments or essays.

Dear WriteCheck,

If a student takes detailed notes during class and even writes the notes in complete sentences and then uses the notes for an assignment or a test is this plagiarism? The teacher gave the lectures and my son took detailed notes. Now the teacher has stated that my son plagiarized. Other teachers have noticed that my son takes notes in complete sentences as well and uses the notes for assignments. These teachers are now questioning whether or not my son should be the one accused of plagiarizing. 

What should I do?


Stuart G.

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Published on by kennethb.

Student Voices

In this video, undergraduate Kaydee West from the University of South Florida in Tampa speaks about her perspective on plagiarism and the importance of writing originally, a.k.a. doing one's own work. In particular, as an Interdisciplinary Natural Sciences major, she points out that there is often confusion in labs on whether it is acceptable to copy methods sections and lab results. 

Watch this short video to hear a student's view on how reusing text in lab assignments may be problematic (2:53 minutes):

Is Copying Methods Sections on Lab Assignments Considered Plagiarism?

  My name is Kaydee and I go to the University of South Florida in Tampa. I am a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Natural Sciences and I’m going to graduate in May.

  I started using WriteCheck during my freshman year of college. At my university they make a really big deal out of plagiarism; it’s not something they take lightly at all. And so, I think frankly, I was a little bit scared by all of the presentations saying, avoid plagiarism or you’re going to get a double F, which means not only do you fail but everyone is going to know it was because of academic dishonesty. So, I started using WriteCheck just to make sure I wasn’t inadvertently plagiarizing. No one wants to plagiarize, especially not unintentionally. I found WriteCheck and have been using it since.

  I really liked the results that I got from WriteCheck! I thought it was really helpful to determine what areas I needed to work on in my writing.

  The place where I think I see the most potential for plagiarism or where I have seen it has been in lab assignments. I’ve been in biology lab, chemistry lab, physics lab, people think that it’s okay to copy methods or results from others and that’s where I’ve seen a lot of issues. Methods are something that can come into question a lot because there could be a hundred people in a lab doing the exact same thing the exact same way. The instructors have been very clear, though, that in anything you turn in, it has to be your work. So you can’t share your method section with your group or your lab partner because then it’s not your work. It’s a group effort and they’re looking for individual work on these assignments. So it’s really important to do your own work on those sections.

  Plagiarism: it really does rob you of the opportunity to learn because even if you make it all the way through college and you get all the way through whatever amount of education you’re going through, and you plagiarize your whole way and never get caught, eventually that’s going to catch up with you -- because you haven’t learned the skills for one thing, while your peers have been learning by doing their own work, and you are going to reach some point where you’re not going to be able to copy anyone else. There will be some point where you have to do your own independent work, and if all you’ve ever done is copy from other people, you’re really robbing yourself of the opportunity to develop the skills that everyone else has acquired.

  The only advice that I could offer to other students would just be to not be afraid to stand up for yourself and say I’m going to take responsibility for my own work and say, I’m sorry but I’m not comfortable sharing it with you, because like I said, at the end of the day it’s you who has to be happy with your work and your results, and it’ll be you who gets your degree.

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OK or Not? Copying content that everyone knows

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Published on by jessicag.