Written by Shelley Mitchell from Oklahoma State University who is finishing her PhD in Health, Leisure and Human Performance
Why is it important to write original content?
It is important to write in your own words so that you contribute something new to society. If everyone copied someone else’s writing, it would be impossible to advance as a society (we’d still be copying each other’s petroglyphs!), not to mention how boring it would be! When you write in your own words, you say something in a new way—perhaps this new way will help someone else understand a topic they didn’t previously understand. If you explain a topic from a different angle than others do, people who think more along your lines of thinking will be able to grasp the concept better. This happens with teaching all of the time. I have a bachelor’s degree in Biological Science, but I understood biology a LOT better after having students who all learned differently. After explaining biological concepts a hundred different ways (at least!), not only did I understand a concept better, but more students did as well.
Why is it important for students to write original content?
Along the lines of teaching, I have to say that writing in your own words saves you, as a student, a lot of embarrassment and low grades. When I encountered plagiarism, I had to inform the parents of a student that they were getting a zero on an assignment because they didn’t turn in their own work. Those conversations were not fun for me, the parent, or the student. The worst case I had was a student who turned in a three-page paper, handwritten, with a quotation mark at the beginning of the paper and a quotation mark at the end. He didn’t include a bibliography (not that it would have changed his grade) either. When I called his mother, she was angry about his grade, saying, “He used quotation marks!” Whether proper credit is given or not, if you do not use your own words to explain something, teachers have none of your work to grade. Writing is more than finding specific information and cutting and pasting it into a document. We as teachers want to see that a) you understand the information, and b) you understand it enough to say it in a different way. If you cannot say it in your own words, you do not understand the information enough to pass a test on the subject, so study the information until you do. If you can explain something a multitude of ways, you really know your information. Take it from a biology major---the more you can put something in your own words, the more you know your ‘stuff’, and the more prestige you will have among your peers.
How does WriteCheck help students and writers?
WriteCheck is a big time saver and worry killer, both from a student perspective and a teacher perspective. As a doctoral candidate working on her dissertation, I use WriteCheck before submitting drafts to my committee. Although I am pretty sure I have everything documented and credited correctly, it is a big relief to submit my writing to WriteCheck and make sure everything is original before submission. Plagiarism, even if unintended, is a surefire way to end your graduate career. When you are writing 100+ pages, there is a chance you may overlook something, so it’s nice to have WriteCheck ‘have your back’ and double-check your work for you. As a teacher, I used to type suspicious sentences from student papers into a search engine, looking for plagiarism. Now I can check the whole document with ease---what a time saver! And since WriteCheck finds the original sources, it provides the evidence needed to prove plagiarism (for those helicopter parents whose students can do no wrong). Teachers and students can both breathe sighs of relief with WriteCheck proofing their papers.