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Advice for Students: How NOT to Plagiarize

Advice for Students: How NOT to Plagiarize
An Apple for the Teacher

With final essays and term papers coming due (at least here in the States) I thought I’d take a moment to offer some well-needed advice to this year’s crop of young plagiarizers who are about to fail there classes because of really dumb decisions they’re making as I write this.

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Listen. I know it’s been a tough semester and you have a lot of assignments due in a very short time and you really haven’t gotten any of them started and you’re not sure you understand the material or what the assignment is supposed to be. All that really matters to you right now is finding some way to get something — anything — handed in so you can hopefully pass and move on to next semester or to grad school or into politics or whatever you’re planning, if you can only pass the semester.

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But you’re about to make a terrible mistake. Today’s technologies and the predictability of students make catching plagiarists easier than ever. And if there’s one thing professors can’t stand it’s plagiarism — we get a good laugh out of some of it, but it makes us steaming mad, too, and when your professor is steaming mad, that’s no good for you. At best you’re about to fail the courses that you most likely least want to re-take next fall; at worst, you’re about to get yourself thrown out of school. And you know what happens when you get thrown out of school, don’t you? That’s right — your student loans come due.

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Are you ready for that?

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What follows is a list of things NOT to do if you want to get out of this semester with your integrity and college enrollment status intact. Every item on the list is something I have caught (and failed) a student for. If you’re not convinced your professor is savvy enough to catch you (consider your track record, though: you were not convinced you needed to study, either!) and you insist on plagiarizing despite my warnings, at least don’t make these mistakes:

  • Don’t copy entries from Wikipedia. Or any online source, really, but Wikipedia seems to be an especially easy target for students — and it’s incredibly easy to detect. Wikipedia entries have an identifiable style, and they’re usually one of the first few results on any search. Which means your professor will be easily tipped off that you copied your paper from somewhere else, and will easily find out where. To be honest, any phrase you take from the Internet will be easily found, and it only takes one to fail your paper. Unless you’re willing to rephrase every sentence of your source in your own style and language (in which case, why not just write a paper?) stay away from anything on the Internet.
  • Don’t cobble together the free excerpts from several different “free essay” sites. Material from these sites are easily identified and easily discovered on the Web, with the added bonus of almost always being poorly thought out and factually wrong. So you get a double-F. Use the work you’re putting in to stitch together various sources into a coherent whole to actually do research.
  • Don’t copy my work, or the work of my close colleagues. You can imagine how easy it is to tell when a student has copied something I wrote and handed it in as their own work. And it happens, because students who plagiarize are often not very careful about their sources.
  • Don’t paste formatted text into your papers. If you’re going to ignore the advice above, at least don’t just cut-an-paste with no regard for formatting! Nothing says “this paper was plagiarized” more clearly than a Frankenstein’s monster patchwork of fonts and text sizes scattered across your page because you didn’t take the time to reformat everything you pasted into your document into a uniform typeface, size, and color.
  • Don’t hand in first-person accounts written by people who are radically different from who you are! If the person writing your source material describes their first childbirth at age 30 while finishing graduate school, and you’re an 18-year old college freshman, it’s going to be pretty clear you didn’t write the paper yourself. Since many plagiarizers don’t actually read their source material, this is more common than you’d think…
  • Don’t use fancy concepts that you haven’t covered in class. Any time a student hands in a paper discussing the relation of hegemonic discourses to gender performativity in my 100-level women’s studies course, I get the feeling that they’ve plagiarized their paper. That feeling is usually right.
  • Don’t use writing that is much better than your own. Let’s say your last three papers sucked. And let’s say your final paper rocks. I’m not saying you definitely plagiarized — maybe you learned both the course material and how to be an awesome writer n the last 4 weeks — I’m saying you probably plagiarized. And I’m right, aren’t I?
  • Don’t copy long passages (or many short passages) from your course’s textbooks. Next to her or his own work, the material your professor probably has the greatest familiarity with is th material in your textbook. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not OK to simply string together a bunch of material from your textbooks without referencing it — and if you do it anyway, your professor will know.
  • Don’t hand in a bunch of really well-written stuff that has nothing to do with the course or the assignment. Like I said, plagiarists often don’t read their sources very carefully, so their finished paper often has nothing to say about the subject of the assignment, or many times even of the class! Aside from making your professor laugh out loud at your ineptness, this will earn you the quickest F you’ve ever gotten.
  • Don’t hire a third-world knowledge worker to write your essay for you. Chances are, they’re much smarter than you and better at writing your native language, so you’ll be easily caught. And stop and think about it for a moment — you’re essentially helping to train them to replace .

Do do your own research and write a unique synthesis of that research in your own words, and draw conclusions based on your own reflections on what you’ve discovered. That seems like the best way to put a paper together and, in most cases, is a lot less work than plagiarizing effectively. If you’ve really blown it, go talk to your professor about taking an incomplete (and finish it as soon as possible — incompletes are nasty, evil burdens to carry for very long) or otherwise fulfilling your requirements. If you’re not sure how to start or move forward on a paper, again — go see your professor.

If you’re just lazy and don’t want to do any work to earn your grades and your degree, my advice is simple (and can be followed with minimum effort, which should appeal to you): get used to failure.

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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

1. Set a Timer

Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

Download Clockify here.

    2. Eliminate All Distractions

    Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. One consideration is trying out Freedom an app that allows you to block certain sites during periods of time. Try it out on your phone here.

    You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

    Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

    Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

    Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

    4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

    Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

    If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

    5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

    By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

    Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

    6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

    Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

    Download Todoist here.

      7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

      Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

      Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

      Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

      8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

      To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

      Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

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      Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

      9. Don’t Multitask

      Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

      For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

      10. Step Away from the Computer

      The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

      I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

      11. Use Focus Tools

      Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

      Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

      12. Just Start

      Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

      Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

      13. Find out Your Productive Hours

      Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

      Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

      14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

      This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

      Download Evernote here.

        15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

        The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

        When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

        And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

        Try WordPress out here.

        16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

        I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up.

        Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

        17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

        The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

        Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

        18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

        As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

        “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

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        This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

        19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

        I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

        Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

        20. Get Plenty of Sleep

        When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

        Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

        21. Exercise

        Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

        Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

        Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

        22. Outsource as Much as Possible

        If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

        Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

        23. Set Some Exciting Goals

        Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

        Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well.

        For example, Strides is an app that takes the SMART goal framework and amplifies it through reports, charts, and other helpful information to help you achieve your goals faster and regularly.

        You can download Strides here.

          24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

          When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

          25. Listen to Podcasts

          Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

          Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

          Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

          26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

          This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

          Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

          27. Learn to Speed Read

          When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

          You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

          28. Learn to Skip When You Read

          When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

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          Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

          29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

          Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

          We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

          30. Take a Break

          You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

          31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

          What is polyphasic sleep?

          Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

          While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

          32. Learn to Say “No”.

          We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

          Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

          33. Go on an Information Diet

          Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

          Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

          The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

          34. Organize Your Office

          The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

          Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done.

          35. Find a Mentor

          By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

          A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

          36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

          With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

          When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

          Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

          Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

          37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

          Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

          You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

          38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

          If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

          Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

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          How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

          39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

          Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

          Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

          40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

          Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

          Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

          Pick up Mealime here.

            41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

            When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

            Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

            42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

            The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

            Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

            43. Take Shorter Showers

            This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

            44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

            Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

            45. Auto Pay Your Bills

            How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

            Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

            46. Shop Online

            Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

            47. Speed up your Internet with a broadband connection.

            Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

            If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

            48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

            If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

            Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

            49. Turn off the TV.

            The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

            For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

            Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

            50. Use a Tivo or DVR.

            This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

            So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

            More Time Management Tips

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

            Reference

            [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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