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Health Information Technology: Avoiding plagiarism

Provides starting points for research in TCC's HIT Program

Your mission

Your mission is to learn as much as you can about your chosen topic through the selection and use of appropriate sources. 

You will write about what you've learned in your own words, using your own style and voice. Unless you are directly quoting an author, which you should rarely do, you will never use text directly from what you read (with the exception of technical terms or phrases associate with your topic).

TCC takes some responsibility to inform you about plagiarism, which most of us know is using the words, images, and ideas of others in our work without crediting the original author. What many students are not taught, or fail to grasp, is that plagiarism is more complex than that and students commonly commit plagiarism even when they do give credit. How do you avoid that?

Write what you learn. Write what you think. Write your insights into the topic based on what you read.

Plagiarism

This is not meant to scare or threaten. While some plagiarism is intentional, most students don't intend to commit plagiarism; they may not understand what constitutes plagiarism or lack skill and confidence in their own writing. 

Either way, it is sometimes difficult for your instructor to detect what is accidental and what is intentional.  It is your responsibility to understand your mission and the issue of plagiarism. Ask for guidance from your instructor, your librarians, and your writing and tutoring center when these points are unclear. We can provide examples and even worksheets to help you practice.

Avoiding plagiarism by paraphrasing

One of the reasons that we cite our sources is to avoid plagiarism. We are showing our readers where we are getting our information and allowing them to verify the accuracy of that information and perhaps incorporate it into their own research. But there are other forms of plagiarism beyond simply not citing your sources. Plagiarism occurs whenever someone uses the ideas or writings of another as their own without giving due credit.

A student commits plagiarism by:

  1. Using another writer's words without proper citation.
  2. Using another writer's ideas without proper citation.
  3. Citing your source but reproducing the exact words of a printed source without quotation marks.
  4. Borrowing the structure of another author's phrases or sentences without crediting the author from whom it came.
  5. Borrowing all or part of another student's paper or using someone else's outline to write your own paper.
  6. Using a paper writing "service" or having a friend write the paper for you.

(From the Committee on Academic Conduct, University of Washington)

NOTE: You also need to remember that the vast majority of your writing needs to be YOURS. Even if you are citing your sources, the general rule is that 2/3 of the words in your research assignments should be your own. If your paper consists of nothing but quotes, you are not demonstrating that you understand the material nor are you providing your own analysis of that material. See the hamburger technique of writing box below for writing guidance.

To ensure that you not plagiarizing, not only it is important that you understand how to properly cite your sources but also how to paraphrase. Watch the video below for more information.


Video source: "Stop, Thief! Avoiding Plagiarism by Paraphrasing" by Emily Nimsakont, Standard YouTube license

Learn to use APA and avoid plagiarism


Image source: "Pen en papier / Pen and paper" by Nationaal Archief, no known copyright restrictions

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