Term Paper Cheating

2018-04-06 Off

In most situations, students are responsible for creating unique, original term papers, and if they plagiarize or incorrectly cite any research sources whether inadvertently or not, their instructors consider them to cheat term papers. Therefore, the best way to know how not to cheat term papers is to be conscious of what constitutes cheating.

First, in the process of writing term papers, cheating occurs when students do not correctly cite their sources. Because term papers usually depend so deeply on an exchange and interaction with research material, using someone else’s work without citing it properly does constitute cheating or plagiarism rather than constituting a mere mistake. Students should put quotation marks around any unique words, phrases, or sentences that they gain from other sources. However, students do not usually need to use quotes for the jargon that they absorb from having read many sources; for example, while “synecdoche” is an unusual word, many sources may use it to describe a certain type of literary trope in a given text, and therefore the student does not need to quote it from a particular source. On the other hand, if it is clear that a research source has creatively styled a phrase, the student should put quotation marks around it.

Additionally, in the process of creating term papers, cheating occurs when students do not properly identify the sources of their ideas. Students should cite the sources that provide ideas for the term paper, even if they never directly quote those ideas, and they may place those citations where they introduce the ideas. If the style of the paper allows footnotes, the student may find it helpful to include a footnote that says, “The ideas in this section borrow heavily from [research source citation].”

Also, students cheat term paper projects when they use sources without mentioning them in the body of the paper or in the paper’s bibliography. To use a source is to borrow an idea from it or to quote a word, phrase or sentence from it; using sources well is one of the main tasks of writing a term paper, and doing it well can result in an excellent term paper. However, students must be sure that any time they are using a source for more than just general knowledge, they cite that source. Normally, one considers general knowledge to be the information that is widely available from several different sources, such as the date of the Battle of Hastings or the birth date of Robert Browning. Such pieces of information do not need to have a source citation. On the other hand, students who use research sources that express information in a quotable way or that contain unique ideas should always cite them both in-text, whether by footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical citations, and in the bibliography.

Finally, term paper cheating sometimes occurs when students deliberately try to hide the fact that they procured academic help. While certain types of assistance may not require a citation, such as proofreading assistance from a writing lab, the student should cite sources that provided direct help in the creation of the term paper, particularly example term papers that offered ideas upon which he or she depended.


Students also cheat term paper projects when they do not admit to having sought help. Usually, instructors appreciate when students ask other people for help in the research and editing stages, because such asking for help results in a better, more thoroughly accurate term paper. However, students should always be willing to admit having solicited academic help. Moreover, in some situations the student will also need to provide a citation for the academic assistance he or she received, such as a citation for an example term paper that provided useful ideas or upon whose bibliography the student’s term paper relied.