Workshop gives strategies on avoiding plagiarism

On Thursday, Sept. 17, approximately 35 students gathered to attend a Writing Center workshop on strategies to avoid plagiarism in the Lowrimore Auditorium.

Dr. Jennifer Kunka is the director of the Writing Center and presented the workshop on plagiarism.

“Plagiarism is taking another person’s ideas and/or language without attributing appropriate credit,” Kunka said.

There are two types of plagiarism: intentional and unintentional, Kunka said during the session. Intentional plagiarism is the most common form because a person may procrastinate, and/or be lazy. Unintentional plagiarism is when a student does not know how to cite properly or because of sloppy research.

Freshman computer science major, Austin Boyle, attended the event and explained why the workshop helps a student.

“It helps to define how to properly write a paper; especially for a student coming straight out of high school,” Boyle said. “It definitely helps to clarify any questions you have.”

Kunka explained the penalties for plagiarizing at FMU.

The first offense results in academic penalty as specified on the course syllabus. The student then receives a letter from the Provost about academic dishonesty, according to the student handbook.

The consequence for second offense is academic penalty and suspension for one semester.

The consequence for the third offense is academic penalty and getting expelled from the university.

“We have been doing the writing workshops since I came here in 2001,” Kunka said. “It is an opportunity for people with common questions to get some instructions, as well as guidance, about tackling different writing projects.”

Kunka said that the workshop on avoiding plagiarism is the workshop with the most attendees. The second most attended workshop is the workshop on APA style.

Kunka said during the workshop that it is best to plan your writing assignments in advance, master documentation formats, develop a detailed research strategy and learn how to quote, paraphrase and summarize properly.

MLA and APA are the most commonly found documentation formats out of the existing four.

Concerning developing a detailed research strategy, Kunka said it is best to write sources down when you first find something that gets your interest. From there you can learn how to quote, paraphrase and summarize accurately, especially if you come to the Writing Center.

At the workshop, Kunka did a writing exercise to show how students plagiarize. She had a quote from a source with correct information like the author and publication date. Underneath it she had how a student cited it. The student paraphrased it properly but did not cite the author’s name or page number in their paragraph. She then showed how to accurately cite and paraphrase a source.

Kunka said that she wants students to come to other workshops that the Writing Center will be hosting in the Lowrimore Auditorium.

“[The workshops] are fun, friendly events and good opportunities to learn a little more about writing,” Kunka said.

One new workshop is “Outlining and Organizing” on Oct. 5 and “Moving from Formal to Informal” help Sept. 21. A Writing Center student worker, Christina Xan, developed the workshops over the summer. She will lead the two workshops with the help of Kunka or Dr. Meredith Reynolds, the assistant director of the Writing Center, as needed.

Kunka said that the “Flow Factor” workshop on Oct. 28 will be hosted by Reynolds. The workshop will focus on flow and integration of research.

“It will help explain how to actually integrate research in a paper, introduce an author, a quotation or paraphrase,” Kunka said.

Workshops are open to everyone, and more information can be found in the Writing Center.