Sources, Citing, and Plagiarism

Blog post assignment #1 for Introduction to Professional Communication

As you may or may-not know, with the way that the pandemic effected my industry, I decided to turn my career on it’s head and go back to school for something completely different than the weddings I was doing before – horticulture studies. As a requirement for the degree that I’ll be getting, I had to enroll in an English course from a list of a few different options, and the one I choose was Introduction to Professional Communication.

Sometimes work and school meld together so well. For example, this assignment and this blog, or my take home from a wedding and this botany text. (Botany text is Sterns Introductory Plant Biology, 15th edition)

Through this class we’re required to produce 5 blog posts as assignments with specific objectives for each post; how fortuitous that I happen to have a blog and am always up for adding new content! Most of these blog posts will be reflective on what I’ve learned in the preceding week(s) so maybe you, the reader, will be able to find some value in the information I share.

This week, I’ll be sharing about my experience on the topic of finding and evaluating sources, citing sources in APA style, and plagiarism. Frankly, these last two weeks make me wish I had enrolled in this class so much sooner. While some of the information was more of a refresher from past college and high school classes, I have learned so much, in particular about what constitutes plagiarism in a general sense but also in a completely real sense as it applies to my class work. As I was reading about the different ways in which I can plagiarize, it started to frighten me to a point. Had I plagiarized in assignments in my last term, unintentionally? All those papers I wrote, were they up to snuff of the APA guidelines? And while all those fears got to me a bit, the biggest thing I tried to consider was “how can I do better?”.

Plagiarism

The pratice of using another person’s words or ideas as one’s own, in essence, stealing another person’s brain copyright. This may be done intentionally or unintentionally.
1.5 year old standing looking at a note book, appearing to erase a section
Hint: having Cecilia (daughter person) do my classwork for me DEFINATELY falls into plagiarism; who knew?

Plagiarism isn’t a tricky subject in and of itself, but there are certainly nuances that I hadn’t considered. One of which is the fact that if you have someone edit your work where they change your words or grammar (no red pen on those drafts, please!) that can be considered academic plagiarism (Ashman, 2018). Instead, the best practice is to ask for feedback in more of a general sense. The person providing you this feedback can point to specific parts of your writing to let you know that there’s something wrong, but they cannot alter your work.

Of course, this communications course isn’t the only class in which I am enrolled and if we want to talk about fortuitous again, it just so happened that in those other classes I had a variety of assignments due in the coming weeks (or that same week, whatever) where the information I was learning in communications was directly applied to these assignments. For one of these assignments, I was required to attend a tradeshow (virtually, of course. Thanks COVID) and at that show, we had to watch a talk and write a summary paper on it. Well, because of the information I had just learned in communications, I was able to properly site the speaker at all the instances where I was required to site him. Had I not the APA citation learning prior to that paper, I likely would have just cited that speaker once for the totality of the paper, which would have constituted plagiarism.

Ultimately, I’m not sure which of the topics was most helpful in my learning primarily because it is vital to understand plagiarism to understand how and when to place citations. That being said, if I were required to choose one subject area (which is the objective of this assignment, so I probably am…) I would have to choose documenting sources was the most helpful of those taught. I am comfortable finding reliable and authoritative sources on the subjects which I am required to look into, but until recently, I was not comfortable in properly sharing credit with those sources.

1 year old, sitting in car seat in car with an old keyboard on her lap
And now that I know it’s not okay to submit Cecilia’s writing as my own, I’m going to need that extra flow to push out as much content as I want to!

Now, with confidence, I can cite my work, which for some reason makes me move through my assignments (and even writing for Basil Bee) with much more ease. As I collect the research that I need for whatever it is I am writing, I’m far more clear on the relevant aspects to what I need for proper citation but also to recognize when I am paraphrasing what I’ve retained versus when I should probably just stick quotes around the original author’s words. As a more confident writer, I am a more productive writer.

References

Ashman, Melissa (2018) Introduction to Professional Communications
Section 8.4, Giving and Receiving Feedback

3 thoughts on “Sources, Citing, and Plagiarism

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