We discussed essay writing services in an earlier post, and we discussed how paying someone to write your assignments is a form of cheating and, in some cases, illegal. But what if a friend agrees to help you write your essay for free?
Regardless of whether you pay for help with your writing or get it done for free, if you turn in work written by somebody else, it’s plagiarism. However, that doesn’t mean your friends can’t help you at all. You just need to know exactly what kind of help constitutes plagiarism and what doesn’t.
What Is Plagiarism?
Most instances of plagiarism fall into one of the following categories:
Unintentional plagiarism happens when students fail to reference their sources correctly or use a direct quote without the right punctuation.
Direct plagiarism is copying the exact words of all or part of somebody else’s writing and claiming it as your own work.
Paraphrasing plagiarism is more subtle than direct plagiarism, but just as serious. It involves taking someone else’s work and tweaking some of the words and phrases. There’s nothing wrong with paraphrasing, but whenever you mention another person’s ideas – whether you use their words or your own – you must credit the original writer.
If someone writes an entire essay or other academic assignment and you hand it in as your own work, you will obviously have committed direct plagiarism. If they help you by writing a small part of your essay, this too would be direct plagiarism. And if they write some or all of the assignment, but you then change or rearrange some of the words they’ve used, you could be rightly accused of paraphrasing plagiarism.
So, does this mean that when it comes to writing essays, you can’t get a little help from your friends? Not quite. There are some legitimate ways that classmates and colleagues can help you with your writing.
What Help Can You Get (Without Cheating)?
Writing essays is a vital part of the learning process. You gain knowledge by thoroughly researching a topic, and you consolidate that knowledge by setting out your findings and arguments in a systematic way. Therefore, it’s essential that you do all of this work yourself.
However, once you’ve drafted your essay, you can ask a friend to read it and offer feedback. In particular, you could ask them to comment on the following areas, without compromising your academic integrity:
● How effectively you present your ideas and arguments
● Whether your language is suitably academic
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● General readability
● Anything that’s unclear or incorrect
● Missing citations
● Errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation
Some institutions actively encourage students to read and respond to each other’s work by incorporating peer review processes into their courses. Participating in peer review can be daunting because you’re expected to evaluate your fellow students’ work. But learning to give and receive feedback is a valuable way to strengthen your writing skills.
Summary: Can a Friend Help You With Your Essay?
If your friend is willing, they can help you with your written assignments by offering feedback. However, if they do any of the actual writing for you, even if you change some of the words before submitting it, that counts as plagiarism. Even if your tutor doesn’t find out, you’ll have missed out on valuable learning. And if they do find out, you could get into trouble.
The good news is that having your work proofread doesn’t put you at risk of plagiarism. If you’re unsure about whether your university or college allows it, it’s worth asking. However, most institutions approve of students having their essays, dissertations, etc. professionally proofread before they submit them – some students even get a proofreading allowance from their university.
Our student proofreading service includes correcting typos, improving word choice, fixing inconsistencies, highlighting anything that’s unclear, and helping with presenting arguments coherently. What we won’t ever do is change the substance of your work. If you want to try out our service for free, send us up to 500 words, and we’ll send them back, error-free, within 24 hours.