Chances are if you attended school in the United States, you learned how to write a research paper using the traditional style taught across the world. The traditional research paper teaches students how to source material and cite their research, but fails to teach them how to make assertions and claims of their own. Most students know how to paraphrase and quote text, but when it comes time to create thesis statements, arguments, and judgments, they are lost in the woods.
The sources you use are often referred to as evidence in your paper, but while an important element of academic prose, it is not the only thing you need to include in the paper. Theoretically, researching topics for papers is supposedly an essential component of the learning process. In the age of the Internet and electronic media, researching is a matter of reading the text and translating (i.e. paraphrasing) the author’s ideas into your own. The information read during the process is often lost a few minutes later. Students do not retain information because the process of taking notes is skipped because they paraphrase on-the-fly switching between a web browser and word processor.
The byproduct of technology and laziness is a (possibly) well-written essay that contains tons of ideas, statements, and evidence, but none of it is organic. All of the information comes from someone else, but is presented in a diluted form students claim to be their own work. They often forget plagiarism is also considered stealing someone else’s ideas not just words. Claiming a work as your own constitutes paraphrasing each paragraph of an article into your own, even if it passes TurnItIn.com or CopyScape.com, known plagiarism detection search engines.
Has the Internet and widespread use of computers caused students to become lazy, or have younger generations forgot the true meaning of plagiarism?