Don’t plagiarize other people’s work.

The Internet has made it easier than ever to plagiarize, but if you’re bold enough to do so, beware of the double-edged sword: the Web also makes it easier than ever to catch you in the act. A stolen essay can be uncovered often and easily by Googling any sentence or phrase that sounds like it may have been lifted. An exact-phrase search on Google will often uncover the original source, which will, of course, expose any plagiarism immediately. And if we’ve got a good gut feeling that a paper has been plagiarized, then we won’t just Google a phrase or two; we’ll Google 15 or 20. A crafty plagiarist knows this strategy and will take measures to neutralize it by changing the wording of certain sentences. But they won’t go to the trouble of changing them all, and therein lies the likelihood they’ll get caught. After all, cheaters cheat to get out of doing the work that the rest of us do. If you were willing to go to the trouble of altering every sentence of an essay, you probably aren’t nearly as lazy as most cheaters!

Honestly, I doubt this is a problem for anyone reading this. If you’re here reading this because you want to learn how to earn more scholarship money, you’re not the type of loser who is going to plagiarize.

3 thoughts on “Don’t plagiarize other people’s work.”

  1. About plagiarizing, what is your comment on citing the source on a scholarship essay?

    …and, is a scholarship essay quite different from a research paper in regards to citing sources? (what I mean is when I was reading about plagiarizing, I was thinking about those applicants who are thinking of using words and/or phrases from other sources AND want to cite the source. BASICALLY, could you discuss how different or how similar a research essay is compared to a scholarship essay?)

  2. Sammy: Good question. You know, *personally*, I just want to see attribution of some sort. It doesn’t have to be in any particular style (APA, MLA, AP, whatever), or necessarily use footnotes or endnotes. In our scholarship contests, we’re not looking to bust our students’ balls over those details. Basically, though, I just want to see some indication that you’re trying to come clean to me (the judge) that this is a quote or passage that someone else said, and that you’re now commenting on. It can be in parentheses after the sentences, or you can attribute it in the text (e.g., “It was the great (Marky) Mark Wahlberg who once said, ‘I’m bringing this to the entire nation; black, white, red, brown, feel the vibration!'”).

    Now, that’s just me and the programs that I run. Remember, you should always default to the rules of the particular essay contest you’re entering. They vary, and widely, so just read the instructions and follow them, whatever they may tell you to do.

    P.S.: Mark Wahlberg really did say that. Google it. It’s true.


  3. One more question, if that’s okay. If I am applying for multiple scholarships and I want to create an essay that pretty much tells my personal story in a few sharp and intriguing paragraphs and then finish with my goals and why I would be the best student to receive these monies… can I reuse this same one, over and over again or should I be rewriting them (even if just a little to personalize it) so that it is not seen as plagiarism? Can one plagiarize themselves? Thanks for the insight.

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