Monthly Archives: May 2017

Know More About Plagiarism

Plagiarism. You know it’s bad. You know you should never do it. You know that if you do, you’ll get into trouble. Lots of it.

So, yeah, you know not to go online, find an essay someone else wrote, and submit it as your own. (Duh.) That’s obviously plagiarism, after all.

But there are a lot of other things that count as plagiarism too, things that aren’t quite as obvious—but can get you into just as much trouble.

And that’s why we’re here! To make sure you are 100000% clear on what counts as plagiarism so you can stay on the right side of the law in your high school work, your college applications, and the work you do once you get into college.

But first things first: what is plagiarism? The easy answer is that plagiarism is using someone else’s work and saying it’s your work. More importantly, plagiarism is cheating, and schools do not tolerate it. If you’re caught plagiarizing, you could fail a class, be put on academic probation, get suspended from school, or expelled entirely. (And if you’re caught plagiarizing on your college applications, well, you’ll just never get accepted to the school, simple as that.)

What counts as plagiarism?

There are lots of different kinds of plagiarism, but we’ll cover the worst and most common types.

The biggest and worst form of plagiarism is just straight-out lying about the work you turn in. If your English professor assigns an essay on The Great Gatsby and you find an essay online, copy it, and put your name on the top, that’s plagiarism. And it’s not only the worst form of plagiarism—it’s the dumbest form. First of all, teachers and even college TAs have a very good sense of your work, so when you turn in something that doesn’t sound like you, it’s going to raise suspicion. And as easy as it was for you to hop on Google and find that essay, it’s just as easy for your professor to do the same…and fail you. Second of all, many professors run every essay they receive through special plagiarism-detecting software—software that’s way better at finding plagiarism than you think. So it is not worth taking the risk. You will be caught. And fast.

A much more common and often unintentional form of plagiarism is not citing a quoted source. Let’s say you’re writing a paper about civil engineering and you look it up in the encyclopedia to get a definition. If you read the encyclopedia article and explain what you learned in your paper, that’s not plagiarism. Once you learn some general knowledge, like definitions and famous historical events and dates, you can just use that in your work. However! If you copy part of a sentence, a sentence, or a paragraph directly out of the article and put it in your paper—maybe because the original author just said it the simplest and best way possible—then you have to quote it and cite it. Even if you just paraphrase an idea without saying where it came from, that’s plagiarism. So any time you want to use someone else’s words or ideas, make sure you give credit to that person. Really, when in doubt, cite it out.

In terms of how to cite something, different schools and different departments have different citations styles (MLA, APA, and Chicago styles, just to name a few), but your professor should make clear how to cite your work at the beginning of the semester, so make sure you know what they expect from you.

Why you should never plagiarize

Okay, so now that you’re super clear on what plagiarism looks like, let’s dig a little bit deeper into why you should never, ever do it (no matter how tempting it can be).

Of course, the first and most obvious reason is because you don’t want to fail the class or get in trouble. That’s easy. (And if it’s not, just think for a moment about what happens when you have to explain it to your parents. Are you convinced yet?)

But even more, think about why you’re at school: you’re there to learn. And we don’t even mean this in a touchy-feely “learning is the best” way. We mean it in the most practical way possible. You need to learn so you can graduate, get a job that makes you happy, and be successful for the rest of your life. If you just find someone else’s work and say it’s your own, you’re not actually learning anything. Coasting never works in the long run. When you finish school, that’s knowledge that you missed out on, stuff you needed to know for the real world. Sure, you won’t use everything you learn in high school and college, and you might save some time on an assignment by plagiarizing, but is it worth risking all that time and money and your reputation?

No, it’s really not.

So be careful out there, folks. Plagiarism is a serious thing and you want to make sure to avoid it at all costs.

Some College Study Tips That Will Make Your Life Easier

When you first enter college, academic life may seem easier: you don’t have to wake up early for six hours of class every day, and there’s no one nagging you about doing your school work. One of the best parts of college is being able to freely create your own schedule and pursue your own interests without the rigid rules and structure of high school.

However, with great freedom comes great responsibility, and every student will have to learn the art of studying and time management at some point in their college career. Use these tips to get ahead of the curve.

Look at the syllabus ahead of time and plan accordingly

Unlike high school, college professors will usually have their class already planned for the semester with all the assigned readings or problems listed ahead of time so there are no surprises. Often, you’ll be expected to do these readings and problems before class so you will better understand the lecture and participate in the discussion. Looking ahead at each class’s syllabus also allows you to plan your social events, work, etc. around the amount of work you have.

While reading, make annotations and notes on a separate piece of paper

Whether they are a STEM major or in the humanities, every college student will be expected to read a lot of information and understand it in a short period of time. While reading, it is best to make annotations directly on the reading itself. These annotations may include notable underlined quotes, a quick summary of what you just read, or definitions of words you don’t understand. In addition, it also helpful to write longer notes of what you just read on a separate piece of paper. Although this is tedious, taking the time to summarize what you just read will cement the knowledge in your brain—much better than just reading the material quickly once.

Review your class notes at the end of each week

Reviewing notes at the end of the week will make sure you truly understand what you just learned and allow you to synthesize and connect all the concepts. It also gives you the chance to see if everything you wrote makes sense; we’ve all gone through our notes that we wrote many class sessions ago only to find that we have no idea what we were talking about earlier. Reviewing notes early prevents you from cramming an entire quarter or semester’s worth of notes at the last minute.

Practice working through problems without your notes first, then look to them for reference

When you first learn a concept, it might make sense and the problem may seem relatively easy because everything is fresh in your mind. And it can be tempting to whiz through, say, a problem set using the in-class notes you just took and then be finished, but many students often find that they quickly forget a just-learned concept once new material rolls in.

It is helpful to study your notes first, close them, and come back to the problem a bit later and do as much as you can without referencing them. After that, then you should review your notes to see if you’ve made any mistakes. Following this habit can also help you prepare for future tests

Sleep and eat well—consistently

No matter how many times students are reminded to sleep and eat right, this advice often gets pushed aside in college. After all, what’s more fun: ordering an extra cheese pizza with your friends at 2:30 in the morning or going to sleep at 10 after a sensible dinner? But taking care of your health in college is essential to doing your best in the classroom (not to mention feeling good outside of it). Eating well will give your body the energy to focus and perform well in studies. Sleeping proper hours, especially before a test, will allow your brain to process and synthesize all the concepts coherently. Studies show that people who get quality sleep right after studying will recall things better than people who don’t. After all the hard work, treat your body and brain to some well-deserved rest!

Listen to Classical or Pop Music When You Study

Anytime you walk into a school library, you’re sure to see countless students with their noses buried in textbooks, some intensely cramming for tests, some more relaxed. But practically all share one thing in common: earphones, because, of course, they are listening to music.

Now, you have to wonder, “Does listening to music actually help us study?” Are all those students aware of the effects of music on learning, or are they just secretly jamming out in a library? And what should they be listening to anyway?

Well, let’s find out.

Dive into classics: the Mozart Effect

The widely accepted belief that music helps students perform better academically is known as the “Mozart Effect.” This famous phrase was coined by a French researcher named Alfred A. Tomatis in 1991, in his book Pourquoi Mozart. After only seven years, it received considerable support in the United States with the publication of Don Campbell’s The Mozart Effect.

So how does music aid us in our studies? According to Dr. Campbell, music “raises performance levels and productivity by reducing stress and tension, masking irritating sounds, and contributing to a sense of privacy.” Listening to music puts your mind at ease and allows you to relax in your own private thought bubble. Pleasant tunes will mute out the background noises and create a serene, undisturbed learning environment—ah, so peaceful. You will want to study in an environment like that.

But why is such a wonderful phenomenon called “the Mozart Effect”? Why not Beethoven, Bach, or Chopin? The initial theory was that only certain Mozart sonatas can produce the desired effect, that Mozart’s compositions are somehow special. Further research, however, refuted the original claim. As a matter of fact, acclaimed Bulgarian psychologist Dr. Georgi Lozanov discovered that the Mozart Effect actually works particularly well with Baroque pieces. Even though Mozart lived during the Classical era, not Baroque. Oh, the irony!

The phenomenon may not be entirely true to its name, but its wondrous results remain much the same. After evaluating thousands of students over several years, the Center for New Discoveries in Learning concluded that slow-tempo Baroque pieces allow students to feel calmer, study longer, and retain more of their learning material.

But there is a catch! Make sure to stay away from dynamic orchestral pieces, as recommended by KUSC producer Alan Chapman. Those can become too engaging and, thus, distracting.

Pop your preference? Resist the urge

Maybe eight-minute-long, soporific orchestral pieces are not exactly your jam. (Give it up for music puns!) Like so many, you might be more a fan of modern lyrical music, such as rock, rap, reggae, country, or pop. Unfortunately, songs with lyrics are a risky choice when you are trying to concentrate and study. Surely there have been times when you turned up your favorite Hozier song, thinking that it will help you focus, but instead, you ended up having a sing-along concert by yourself. The urge is almost unstoppable.

“Music with lyrics is very likely to have a problematic effect when you’re writing or reading,” warned Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford University. Listening to songs while reading would be like trying to decipher two people talking at once. What you see differs from what you hear, so the thoughts in your mind get easily jumbled up.

Music itself can help boost your concentration, but the words can challenge multitasking abilities and frustrate your attempts to focus.

Choose your favorite

If you absolutely cannot bear the thought of abandoning popular music while doing your homework, don’t worry. For Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift fans out there, hope still exists.

In her article “Music Helps You Focus on Your Own Thoughts, but Only If You Like It,” Rachel Feltman points out that listening to preferred genre of music can increase concentration better than disliked classical selections can. Simply put, One Direction songs can produce the same Mozart Effect as Mozart compositions!

A study conducted by R.W. Wilkins and other experts shows the neurological process that takes place. The default mode network (DMN) provides connection among different regions of the brain that enables you to focus inward. When the DMN is active, your surroundings fade out, and you become completely submersed in your inner thoughts. Internal stimuli, such as memory and imagination, begin to take over. Now the argument is that the DMN lights up only when you listen to music that you actually like. Even classical music cannot elicit this reaction if you do not like the piece.

This claim is not yet fully corroborated, but it does give you an excuse to continue listening to The Weekend as you pore over your chemistry notes. So whatever music you prefer, go ahead and listen to it when you study. Classical or pop, who cares? As long as you enjoy it, all music is good music.