There are a number of alternatives to plagiarizing. However you arrive at that moment when you decide between plagiarizing or not, here are some things to consider:
If you're still not clear whether you are citing material correctly or even whether you need to, it's safer to err on the side of citing too much or too often. Set up an appointment with a Writing Studio tutor, or ask your professor for advice. Sometimes asking such questions during class helps other students voice their own questions and concerns about plagiarism. Discuss plagiarism in class!
If you're under time pressure, and copying or buying a paper seems the only solution to getting your assignment in on time, stop a minute. Talk to your professor and request an extension for your paper. At worst, the professor will not grant the extension, but even so, a failing grade for a paper or even a course is a better outcome than disciplinary action. Disciplinary action may involve a hearing in which you are asked to explain your actions. If you are found responsible for academic dishonesty, sanctions may range from disciplinary probation to suspension, and sometimes, even expulsion. Note, too, that disciplinary action is part of your disciplinary record for four years after you graduate (or eight years from your date of matriculation), and, if you are suspended or expelled, the suspension or expulsion is permanently noted on your transcript. Take a look at the link to 'Good Reasons to Meet with Your Professors' below, then give your professor a call. They're human too.
Many students lose perspective in the obsessive quest to get an "A" for all their classes. In that context, the disappointment of a lower grade outweighs the risk of getting caught for plagiarism. If you or your family are putting you under this much pressure, you may want to talk to a counselor or spiritual advisor. You can begin by linking to some of the organizations, like CAPS or Campus Ministries, that are listed below.
Other alternatives include taking care of yourself in productive ways. The university has a number of different offices and organizations specifically developed to support our students. They include counseling though CAPS, stress management and time management workshops from the Academic Resource Center, meeting with a tutor from the Writing Studio, and talking to friends in your religious organization. Take a look at the resources available to you below. When you're at that moment choosing to plagiarize or not, remember that plagiarism is not your only alternative. Take advantage of these resources to find alternatives....
Still feeling unsure whether you could or should talk to your professor? Take a look at this handout from the Academic Resource Center which gives you tips on how to go about it...
Now that we've finally convinced you that it's okay to talk to your professor, here's the phonebook.
Don't forget that librarians are there to help you with your assignments too. In addition to helping you to find good sources for your bibliography, they can also help you find information about correctly citing those sources. This website offers a number of different ways to contact a librarian, from the traditional trip to the reference desk, to virtual reference, to setting up a one-on-one appointment with a subject specialist. Did you know that there is a subject librarian assigned to every academic department? Come find out who is the expert on your subject.
This website collects information from a number of different offices and organizations on campus concerned with academic integrity. There are links to the Duke Community Standard, the undergraduate judicial process, as well as a detailed account of plagiarism and how it is defined by the academic community.
The Academic Resource Center offers workshops, peer tutoring, and advice in order to help you succeed in your classes. In other sections of the plagiarism tutorial, we suggest ways to avoid situations where you might decide that plagiarizing is a viable alternative. It isn't!
Follow this link to the Academic Resource Center and read about their services. There are workshops on time management and techniques for managing stress, all factors in bad decision making. Also take a look at their excellent handouts which cover a range of topics, from ideas on note-taking to reasons to talk to your professors. The Academic Resource Center is definitely a viable alternative to plagiarizing.
The Writing Studio provides professional tutors from a spectrum of disciplines to help students with all aspects of their writing. Their offices are in the Academic Advising Center on East Campus, but tutors also schedule meetings in the libraries on both East and West Campus. Follow this link to find more information and to schedule an appointment.
CAPS provides a number of valuable services to Duke students. If you're having problems, CAPS counselors are there to listen to you, support you, and help you through them.
In other sections of this plagiarism tutorial, we've noted that stress and substance abuse are often the triggers for decisions you might regret later -- like choosing to copy other people's work rather than submitting your own. Don't let it get to that point! Follow the link for more information, including how to set up an appointment with a counselor.
The web site for Campus Ministries lists all the religious organizations on campus. In addition, it provides a link to pastoral counseling if you need to speak to a religious advisor as well as a counselor. These are people and organizations ready to help you during stressful times.
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