My wife has been taking classes to get her Bachelors in Account and Business. It certainly has been interesting finding a balance between working 50 hours a week, caring for her elderly parents, school, and finding time to log in to play WoW. Every week her courses have discussions. It is usually a topic related to the course work from that week. You have to create your own answer of course, but also reply to another student. And it cannot be a simple, I agree. She has found that talking about the topics as they relate to her job experiences, or things that have happened in her life, make writing what amounts to as a small couple hundred word blog post. Sometimes it isn’t easy answering, other times it is quite simple because being in our 50’s we have a lot of life experience. And some of that experience is based on things that have happened to us, and things we have read.
Now, at least once a semester there is a paper due, 6-7 pages not including cover and references, Times New Roman 12 font double spaced 1″ margins APA format. It a long way from the days when we wrote papers on a typewriter. We have seen when looking up information on discussion topics.., how some students blatantly copy paste answers. Most of the time she wants to call them out, but that’s the professors job, not hers. So this past week she had a paper due on Corporations and Partnerships and how the tax code affected each. Provide detail on the benefits of C Corp, S Corp, LLC, etc. now there’s not a great deal of options when it comes to looking up information on the IRS web site. To be honest it’s a rather intimidating site, and I’m sure no one knows what is really hidden in it. So she wrote her entire paper, nearly maxing out 7 pages, had a few direct definitions on the IRS definition of terms, which the requirements for the paper said she should have, with citations. Submitted it and a few days later got a note back that 67% was the same as work by another student. They have programs they can run that will scan the database of all submitted works by other students and highlight areas someone has previously written. Wow, that is impressive. So I helped her reword some paragraphs to say the same thing, but differently, we resubmitted, and were at 40%. It has to be below 27% or its pass/fail. Took another look at the issues, and it was the cited definitions. Now how do you write something that is a direct quote from the IRS, and give credit for the work, but not say the same thing. So I suggested changing company to business, corporation to company, and rewording some sentences. Boom, got it to 23%, submitted and ran the program one last time to check. All good. The only thing flagged was the title of the paper, and the references. Do you know the professor took off points because of the title of the paper matching another student, and that the references were too? Lol. But it done, 6 more classes to go. I’m proud of her, don’t know how she is managing to not toss it all. I do what I can to help, and hope she gets all the way through.
What it showed me is no matter how original you may think your work is, there’s a good chance someone else has written similar before you.