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In this month's Ask WriteCheck column, a student asks whether citations are needed on a PowerPoint slide.

Dear WriteCheck,

To prevent a charge of plagiarism, what kind of citations should you use on a Powerpoint slide, especially if the slides are used as a handout? Are the rules the same as on a paper or essay? If you post the Powerpoint presentation on-line, do you need to also post a back-up paper with proper citations as part of the file?
 
What should I do?
Sharie L.

 

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In this month's Ask WriteCheck column, a student asks about the legitimacy of paraphrasing the majority of his research paper.

Hi WriteCheck,

This is an example. I am writing an essay about biology, something I have no clue about. I find information online and use it on my essay with citation and quotes. However, I am paraphrasing everything I found online and quoting them. Basically, my essay is a big essay quoted with a few sentences not quoted. Is that plagiarism? I feel your answer will be yes, but how can I write the essay without quoting everything when every information I got was something new to me and the way the information is structured is the same way I would have said it in my own voice with some paraphrasing.

Thanks,

Tou

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In this month's Ask WriteCheck column, a student asks about how to stop future plagiarized Facebook posts.

Hi WriteCheck,

So upsetting: I wrote something on my Facebook page, poured my heart into it and, lo and behold, it was lifted and now appears as one of my Facebook "friends'" posts ... word for word! It is still on my Facebook page, dated September 25th, 2013. I cannot begin to tell you how upsetting this is to me. Worse yet, her friends commented on how beautifully said the sentiments were, and she accepted the accolades without explaining that she had not written it herself. What can I do to make sure this does not happen to me again?

Please help. 

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Published on by kennethb.

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WriteCheck receives hundreds of questions from students around the world about plagiarism, citation, grammar/writing, and many other tricky situations that may occur at school. This new "Ask WriteCheck" column will share some of these questions, provide answers to help the inquisitor, and help other readers who may find themselves in similar situations. In this debut "Ask WriteCheck", a student writes about how to get out of an unintentional plagiarism situation.

Ask WriteCheck

Hi WriteCheck,

I had homework in which I had to present to the class. When I presented my report to my instructor, he said I plagiarized because someone from the other class already presented the same report to him. I didn't know about it. We coincidentally presented almost exactly the same report. Was that plagiarism?

Thank you, Dio

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Hi Dio,

Sounds like a tough situation to be in. The short answer to your question is "yes"--unintentional plagiarism is still plagiarism. However, I would sit down with your instructor and ask him/her to specify which aspects of your homework were considered to be plagiarized. There is a possibility that the nature of the homework assignment promoted students’ use of the same sources. Did all of the students present their homework to the class? If so, who went first, you or the other student? If not, you have a strong case that your work was plagiarized by the other student.

The burden of proof is on your instructor to prove how you plagiarized. If your homework assignment was truly your own original work, you will be familiar with your work. Ask your instructor to orally quiz you on different parts of your homework and you can substantiate how it is your own idea.

Another thing to consider is whether you sent your homework to anyone or completed your assignment on a public computer. There is a chance that they may have copied and taken ideas from your paper with your consent or knowledge.

Always properly document your sources and how you used them. This way you can provide your instructor with several assignment drafts and notes you took from the sources you’ve used. In this way, you can provide a positive case for how you did your work and why you didn’t plagiarize.

Best of luck,

WriteCheck

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Ask WriteCheck

Published on by kennethb.

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