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EP 18: How To Avoid Plagiarism & The Importance of Citations & Referencing

Welcome to Episode 18 of the Homework Help Show! So what’s the big deal about plagiarism? Anyone in university or college will know that profs are sticklers for this stuff, but what does proper citation really matter? Last week on the show we discussed the importance of proper citation and why students must be diligent when they make references to information that they did not write. We also investigate the psychology of plagiarism. Stay tuned for some tips on citation and referencing.

Looking for study tips, help with essay writing, or advice on how to be a better student? Welcome to The Homework Help Show, a weekly show where we teach, assist, and offer valuable insights for student life. From study hacks to writing tips, discussions about student mental health to step-by-step guides on academic writing and how to write a resume, we’ve got you covered. Want your questions answered? Write them below or join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #askHHG


Cath Anne: [00:00:05] Hello, and welcome to The Homework Help Show. My name is Cath Anne and this is Episode 18. This week we are going to be discussing the psychology of plagiarism as well as the importance of using style guides and referencing guides to mitigate the risk of plagiarism. A little bit different than normal but hopefully it will be of interest to you guys.

Cath Anne: [00:00:36] (To Instagram Viewer): Hi Tanya Phillip. Welcome to The Homework Help Show.

Cath Anne: [00:00:40] We’re discussing plagiarism today as well as using referencing guides. (To Instagram Viewer): Coach Kaur you so encouraging. Okay. So, really what’s the big deal about citation and plagiarism? Anyone in college or university knows that profs are sticklers for this stuff but what does it matter that you write proper references when you are writing a paper? This week on the show we’re going to discuss the importance of citation and why students must be diligent when they’re making their references to material that does not belong to them or that they did not create. We’ll investigate the psychology of plagiarism and everything that lies behind why students plagiarize. It’s not always an intentional act or something malicious that students are trying to do or that they’re trying to cheat the system. Sometimes there are other reasons that people plagiarize, and we’ll discuss that as well. So of course, we know that plagiarism is a huge deal in the academic environment. Professors and other academics take it very seriously. You can even be asked to leave an institution if you have been caught plagiarizing which is not a great thing to have happen especially when you put so much time and effort into getting a degree and spending the money on your education. But, really what’s the big deal? Why do students do it?

Cath Anne: [00:02:21] I remember when I was in my undergrad, my B.A., here in New Brunswick and I was in class I was in a logic class, a philosophy class and my prof was highly academic. It was in the middle of a test and all of a sudden, everyone was quiet, and he ran up, it was one of those big lecture theatres, he ran up the stairs and chased someone out the door. What happened was that someone was actually trying to steal his test so that they could plagiarize it and give it to other students, which is just not okay. So, I remember he was so serious about this he actually chased the student across campus all the way to the library until he finally caught him and got the test back. He was so serious about it that he discussed this for weeks and weeks after. It’s been a while since I was in my undergrad and I’ve talked to people who have had the same professor since and he still talks about a story to this day. So, that is an example of how serious professors take plagiarism. Often it can seem a little strange to undergraduates or even any students. Until you understand the importance of a why we don’t take other people’s information, then you don’t really understand why they take it so seriously.

Cath Anne: [00:04:13] The reason, as I mentioned, not everyone plagiarizes because they are malicious and they’re trying to cheat the system or they’re trying to do something unethical. There are many reasons that students might plagiarize. There was actually a study from Harvard that suggests that the reason students plagiarize is because their course loads are really heavy and they are unable to keep up with their work. Some students also discussed the growing tendency towards plagiarism in the professional world. As there are famous authors and other professional writers who actually do hire ghostwriters to write their manuscripts for them, students think it’s OK for them to plagiarize or to engage in that kind of activity.

Cath Anne: [00:05:18] Some students tend to believe that plagiarism isn’t a big deal because it is more commonplace. So, for example, because people have more access to music these days through online pirating or there are instances of plagiarizing people’s poetry on Instagram, for example, students tended to believe that this meant that plagiarism really isn’t a big deal because it’s just becoming more common. That’s just not true. Just because it’s becoming more common or it seems like it’s becoming more common, that doesn’t really make it OK. So, a Georgia State University study indicates that plagiarism is not necessarily intentional or lazy either. Their findings suggest that students tend to use plagiarism actually for some pretty upsetting reasons. So it might be for ignorance or because of fear or because they feel helpless.

Cath Anne: [00:06:20] (To Instagram Viewer): Hi Evan welcome to The Homework Help Show. Not sure if you’re still there but, hello if you are.

Cath Anne: [00:06:30] When students are unfamiliar with the process of how to cite things they might accidentally plagiarize. They may not know that they’re even doing it. Then also because students come from a varied background; they come from different academic backgrounds, some don’t feel prepared with the knowledge required to find proper citations or engage in or research. So, maybe someone isn’t familiar with the academic environment and they have difficulty doing research. Maybe English isn’t someone’s first language so they’re not familiar with the process of researching in English. There might also be issues of confidence level when it comes to writing. So, there are cases where students don’t know how to use the school library. They might not know how to use scholarly databases, or they might also learn improper citation techniques from other students or from their professors.

[00:07:36] So, then they don’t develop the confidence needed to be able to cite things. (To Instagram Viewer): Thank you Coach Kaur. I appreciate your encouragement.

Cath Anne: [00:07:48] Some students, and I think we’ve discussed this before, some students have difficulty determining between plagiarism and paraphrasing. So, paraphrasing is when you take something that was written by someone else and you put it into your own words, whereas plagiarism is straight up copying and not citing it while using someone else’s words. There’s definitely a difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism and that can be a reason that students mistakenly plagiarize because they think it’s OK and they actually think they are paraphrasing.

Cath Anne: [00:08:30] Paraphrasing is a technique that you have to practice as well because just because you’re using a few different words in a paragraph doesn’t necessarily mean that you are actually paraphrasing. One of the causes that it is difficult to paraphrase sometimes is because in some dense, highly technical works, students may not be familiar with the language or the concepts or the statistical information in there, so it might be difficult for them to paraphrase.

Cath Anne: [00:09:09] So, there can be all kinds of reasons why students mistakenly plagiarize. Another reason that students might plagiarize is actually out of fear, so they might have a lot of pressure put on them from families at home.

[00:09:31] (To Instagram Viewer): Is it still frozen Coach Kaur?

Cath Anne: [00:09:34] So, students might fear flunking out of school because they have a lot of pressure put on them by family members or by professors or by other students or even by their own expectations. They might use someone else’s language or information because they’re afraid to use their own words because they don’t feel confident.

Cath Anne: [00:10:07] It has also been shown that students tend to plagiarize less when they’re given creative control over their work. When professors implement really strict regulations around writing it’s more likely that students will plagiarize because they won’t feel confident with their own material. So, that’s a sense of the psychology behind plagiarism. It’s not necessarily always a case of someone trying to challenge the system. Like I mentioned or be mischievous. Of course, there will always be the folks who do decide to cheat on a test or, you know, steal someone’s information or steal a test from a lecture theatre.

Cath Anne: [00:10:59] But, for the most part students don’t mean to plagiarize, but that’s why it’s really important to become familiar with how not to plagiarize and the processes that you can put in place to avoid plagiarizing.

Cath Anne: [00:11:18] Okay, so one of the techniques that can be used to address the tendency to plagiarize is by studying and using proper citation manuals. We’ve discussed this a few different times on the show.

Cath Anne: [00:11:33] I did a show about AP format and MLA format. Becoming really familiar with those processes can help you become confident and help you not plagiarize in the future. However, studying referencing manuals can be super tedious and frustrating. I get it. Reviewing your paper over and over again to make sure that you have every little detail down to the science whether it be MLA format or APA format or any other format that you’re using.

Cath Anne: [00:12:14] It can be frustrating to follow style guides to-a-T, but at the same time if you consider what is at risk if you do plagiarize even by mistake, it is beneficial in the long run to become familiar with these style guides.

Cath Anne: [00:12:33] Of course, each format has its own rules and regulations around it. So, there is APA format, MLA format, Chicago format, Harvard format, ASA. You get the picture. So, there are a lot of different formats.

Cath Anne: [00:12:52] What is the big deal they’re referencing, anyway? We did talk about how it can help you not to plagiarize, but there are two main explanations about why it’s really important to become familiar with these style guides.

Cath Anne: [00:13:07] One is that, it ensures consistency. So, you might be familiar with the fact that MLA format usually is used in the humanities. So English and history, whereas ASA format is more appropriate for Anthropological studies, and APA is more around the social sciences or psychology. This provides consistency across a discipline and it allows research to be easily accessed in the future. The reason for this is because there is a professional discipline built around these papers and it’s really important to follow along with the manuals and the expectations that are set by these different styles. But, you’re probably wondering especially if you are an undergraduate student or if you are someone who doesn’t intend to go on in academia. Why does this apply to you?

Cath Anne: [00:14:12] (To Instagram Viewer): Hello, Balli.

Cath Anne: [00:14:19] Well, as much as you may cringe when your prof asks for 10 sources all cited in MLA format and referenced in a work cited page there are actually various reasons why this is important.

Cath Anne: [00:14:35] While you might think it is tedious to put sources together, having everything consistently organized in one place makes everything easier for everyone.

Cath Anne: [00:14:45] So, when your references are on one page you can easily access those resources and so can your professor. Then when you go back to study at the end of the term and you’re studying for a test you can look back on your work and see where you completed the research you did and what that involved and who the sources were that you used.

Cath Anne: [00:15:09] Your professor will also be able to quantify your sources much easier. So, if they’re asking for 10 sources and they’re going to be able to go to your Works Cited page and see that you put those 10 sources. They’ll be able to mark your paper faster and in turn you will get a better grade because you have followed through on the expectations set out by the manual. It also ensures, when you follow the guidelines laid out by the formatting structure, that you avoid plagiarizing someone else’s work because the style manuals require you to do in text citations and then cite your references at the end. You are going to avoid plagiarizing. Although these kinds of limits and boundaries can really seem limiting and I did mention this before that when there is a lot of structure around a paper you are more likely to plagiarize. However, these kinds of guidelines actually allow for more creativity because they’re providing a little bit more structure. Creativity, as far as I’m concerned, flows more readily when there is at least some kind of structure in place. So, you’re not just kind of freeform trying to figure it out. When you’re writing an academic paper you definitely need a little bit of structure.

Cath Anne: [00:16:41] (To Instagram Viewer): I’m Cath Anne. Nice to see you. We are just talking about plagiarism.

Cath Anne: [00:16:56] Another reason and that is really important to be familiar with referencing style is because of consistency. I kind of mentioned this earlier. Consistency is key to academic and professional writing. If you are going to be an academic writer or even if you’re a student, it’s really important for you to be consistent. It also looks a lot more professional. So, for example, if you write USA without any periods in one place and U.S.A. in another, your readers will notice, and you will definitely lose credibility because you’re being inconsistent across your paper. It also doesn’t look professional. Style and citation guides ensure that your usage is the same across the board. When you stick to these style formats then you are able to be a bit more creative and you will look a lot more professional in your work and you’ll get a good grade from your prof. Which let’s be honest, that’s the most important part.

Cath Anne: [00:18:09] Learning these style guides like MLA, APA, and Chicago will also provide you with an edge as you move into your career. If your intent is to work in a professional setting like an office there will be guidelines set out for you in terms of your workflow and your daily routine.

Cath Anne: [00:18:33] As I mentioned: the structure. Style manuals are notoriously complex and tedious so, if you can get into the groove of using these manuals then you will definitely succeed in the corporate environment and the professional environment. As well, if you hope to pursue a degree in journalism or pursue a career in academia familiarity with these guys are essential tools because journalism usually uses Chicago format and you are going to have to make references. Of course, in academia, you’re going to have to use the science manuals and be really familiar with them.

Cath Anne: [00:19:17] Concrete rules for citation and usage styles are not intended to make your life miserable. They are tools. As noted they provide some structure. They can increase your professionalism and the quality of your writing. They can also increase your consistency across the board. They also have the added benefit of giving you the confidence to avoid plagiarism altogether. Studying these manuals and learning these manuals, becoming familiar with them is really essential. If you are diligent about studying them then it will benefit you in the long run.

Cath Anne: [00:20:03] Yes, there are some hacks that you can use. There are a couple of websites available like I think it’s called and These are referencing tools that will generate APA or MLA formatting references for you. They are really great tools if you are in a rush. However, I would highly recommend that you become familiar with the guides on your own because, as I said, they are essential tools that you can carry with you into your professional life.

Cath Anne: [00:20:46] But, having said that you know if you’re struggling with plagiarism or there have been some red flags on your essays before or if you are struggling with APA or MLA format, please give a shout out to us here at Homework Help Global.

Cath Anne: [00:21:06] We are more than willing to help you.

Cath Anne: [00:21:09] We are experts around this stuff and we also run every paper through a plagiarism checker, so you can be assured that you’re not going to be getting a plagiarized piece. We also offer some tutoring and academic writing help, editing support. So, please let us know if anything comes up and if you need any support around any of that stuff you can find us on our website. I believe it’s just Homework Help Global look us up on Google.

Cath Anne: [00:21:46] That is actually all the content I have for you this week. I hope in the future that you are able to avoid plagiarism and I really encourage you to become engaged with those style guides. Owl Purdue is a really good resource for APA in MLA format so check those guides out and become familiar with them. It’s a really good tool to have in your tool box and I highly recommend it especially if you are hoping to move into the professional world at the end of your degree.

Cath Anne: [00:22:21] So, that’s it for this week. I hope this session was a benefit to you and if you do want to gain access to any more of our content please visit us on Facebook and Twitter. We are also on LinkedIn. We’re on Instagram. We are on Google Plus, YouTube. We blog on Medium.

Cath Anne: [00:22:46] Now we’re also on SoundCloud, Anchor, iTunes Apple Podcast and Google Play Music, in terms of our audio content. All you have to do to find our information and content is to type in Homework Help Global and we will come up. So that’s it for me this week. I hope you guys all have a really great week. And I will talk to you soon.

[00:23:10] Have a good one.