Calling all students and recent learners

  jack 14:51 24 Jan 2010

My formal education ceased 60 years ago- with very little to follow. so I am puzzling which way to go in the following

In a retirement education group to which I belong
one of the tasks befallen ne is to research a historical figure and prepare a paper of say 2 A4 sides.- OK can do no problem I thought
But then when getting down to look hom up - the web was the ovoiuse choice and there is in faxt lots there- and there is the puzzlemewnt.
Well now this is the puzzlement -
One reads of students with a project simply going to the Internet downloading lots in their topic and doing a 'cut and paste' job and delivering it as if it was all their own -hardly original
The same I guess would be true if an individual went to the library and read up the topic.
In this information age- how can one be original?

What would your advice be?

  beynac 15:07 24 Jan 2010

IMO The same action should be taken whether using the internet or the library. You research the subject, making notes as you go. You then establish the most relevant, or interesting, facts about the subject and decide what to include in your essay. You then write the essay, using your own words.

It seems to me that it doesn't matter where you get your information. The important thing is that it is YOUR essay, not someone else's words and/or ideas.

  interzone55 15:10 24 Jan 2010

When I did my last course a couple of years back I researched in the usual places on the Internet, and made sure I copied everything relevant.

I then sense checked everything, i.e. if two sites differed greatly I would look for a third or fourth.

I then retyped the lot in my own words, making sure any quotes were attributed correctly, i.e. not necessarily the site I got it from, but where possible noting where the site sourced the quote.

To simply copy & paste would be simpler, but not guaranteed to be accurate, and you probably won't learn anything if you don't read the stuff properly as you read type it...

  jack 15:20 24 Jan 2010

'To simply copy & paste would be simpler, but not guaranteed to be accurate, and you probably won't learn anything if you don't read the stuff properly as you read type it...'
Indeed ,that is what I am getting at- cut'n'paste or read up and retype[much the same I guess]
Facts are facts and as far as I can see it they can only be expressed as displayed/printed
Hmmm - lots of thinkinhg to do then!

  Diemmess 15:38 24 Jan 2010

Using someone else's work is almost inevitable, but acknowledgement in the form of a footnote referring to your source is usual particularly if stating matters of fact rather than opinion.

With only two sheets of A4 and your own words to go in, this becomes less important than perhaps a document forming part of a degree module.
Plagiarism is a mortal sin in the eyes of examiners, but properly noted references are accepted.

Once typing, I think you will find it harder to reduce your work than to find matters you want to include.

  birdface 17:25 24 Jan 2010

As far as I know copy and paste articles are not allowed in exams.
It must be your own research and thoughts about the subject you are researching.
This may be allowed at college but not at University.
I was told this by someone that tried it and was banned from attending University for 1 year because of it.
True or not I do not know but I can see no reason as to why they would lie about it.

  morddwyd 19:28 24 Jan 2010

You cannot write about, for instance, Leonardo da Vinci without copying/quoting anybody else's work since all the information you have, or will ever get, comes from other people.

The presentation, however, should be your own.

  Legolas 20:02 24 Jan 2010

As you say "facts are facts" and that doesn't change, the skill is putting your own personal and unique slant on the facts, you can have two people write about the same thing but their essays will be totally different dependant on what they find interesting within the subject.

  Why wont it work 20:03 24 Jan 2010

In history (well at undergraduate level anyway) it's almost impossible to be original! Most of what you look at has been done to death... every other sentence has to be referenced! You can't just copy things though, the lecturers know their stuff, and everything I do has to go through plagarism software.

I suppose it's just the way you answer, not what you answer. You have to approach the subject from a slightly different angle, or pick up on some odd little detail. It's like with many subjects, it's the skills you learn (eg arguing) rather than the content of the subject (sadly). I wouldn't worry, I doubt they expect you to be really original, because it's nearly impossible unless you're an actual researcher.

Thankfully being a postgrad now, I can start to say what I actually think- because we tend to look at more obscure and in-depth topics that have been written about less.

  Why wont it work 20:11 24 Jan 2010

Thinking about it (and from experience), if you want to be original, try writing about someone less known, or from the more distant past. If there is less written/known about them, you are more free to come up with your own ideas!

  jack 14:32 25 Jan 2010

So look up as much as possible
Absorb put it away
Give credit/links where it is due
See what comes out of the printer.
Will let you know when it happens

Ticked for now

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