Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Homo Sapien

Statement of Purpose and Plaigarism

Recommended Posts

Do graduate schools check SOP for plagiarism? If they do, what would be an acceptable level of resemblance/similarity to already existing texts (in percentage)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, jacob478 said:

Do graduate schools check SOP for plagiarism? If they do, what would be an acceptable level of resemblance/similarity to already existing texts in percentage?

Do not present others' work as your own.

For guidance, please see the following.

https://www.historians.org/jobs-and-professional-development/statements-standards-and-guidelines-of-the-discipline/statement-on-standards-of-professional-conduct#Plagiarism

http://www.oah.org/about/reports/reports-statements/professional-integrity-and-the-oah/

58 minutes ago, klavierstucke said:

I doubt they would check for plagiarism, they've got enough work as is. Just don't be egregious and you'll be fine.

The position that plagiarism is "fine" as long as it is not "egregious" is not sustainable.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Sigaba said:

The position that plagiarism is "fine" as long as it is not "egregious" is not sustainable.

 

I'd also note that even if the OP is entirely lacking in basic professional ethics (as seems likely, from the fact that this question was asked), there are two possibilities for plagiarism in a SOP. One is that you're plagiarizing from something not very good, in which case, it won't help you get in. The other is that you're plagiarizing from good scholarship, in which case (assuming you're applying to work with people with interests somewhat aligned with yours), there's a pretty decent chance that at least one of the people reviewing your file at one of the several institutions you apply to is going to have read the thing you're plagiarizing from and so will recognize the plagiarism. In which case, you've destroyed your career before it even gets started.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The research idea is completely original, but there are a few paraphrased sentences from published work while describing some specific scenarios. The word limit is actually causing a problem in giving exact references.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Plagiarizing isn't a great way to demonstrate to departments that they should accept you into their program. First of all, as @pudewen has stated, it's completely unethical. It also signals that you're not interested in actually doing anything new in your field and not worth the funding. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry I misunderstood the question, I did not think op was talking about plagiarization of research in a SOP, and I am not even sure how/why that could be done, but maybe there's something about history sops I don't know about. I thought op was worried about phrasing / syntax similarities with other sops. Should have read closer.

Edited by klavierstucke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jacob478 said:

The research idea is completely original, but there are a few paraphrased sentences from published work while describing some specific scenarios. The word limit is actually causing a problem in giving exact references.

@jacob478 If you are referring to historiographical discourse, it's okay to do name, work or quote dropping, as long as you give credit to the person originating the idea. In that case, you can be vague, e.g. "My research is enlightened by Bourdieu's concepts of 'habitus' and social space.", but you should use your own language. If you have to paraphrase a scholarly reading of Bourdieu, be explicit who is that scholar, and even better, in which work it appeared. SoP is not like publishing a journal article, so you don't need to follow any specific citation style. That said, as a rule of thumb, always be aware of what are yours and what are not, and please use your common sense and give fair credits. Never plagiarise! If you want to be more scrupulous, go cite in the footnotes. Why cannot SoP have footnotes? Don't worry about the word limit thing. Unless you are way over / short, the committee won't flag you. In fact, once you submit the document, it will turn to PDF and nobody will be bored enough to count words line by line. Follow the 10% rule (regarding the word limit, not the similarity index!).

Edited by VAZ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jacob478 said:

The research idea is completely original, 

1

It is highly unlikely that you have a "completely original" research idea, even if you're sitting on a lockbox filled with the letters and papers that no one has seen in ages.

It is more likely that you're not familiar enough with the historiography to know how your research will contribute to existing debates innovatively.

IRT the word limit and the phrasing, the workaround is to use the names of established scholars as reference points. I recommend that you take a look at the featured pieces in several volumes of the American Historical Review. You should encounter numerous examples in which academics summarize complex debates mostly (if not exclusively) by listing names.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My thoughts are this:

Editing down is hard, especially for long-winded academics. However, learning to do it is essential to your career and writing clarity. Most of what academics write aren't book-length projects in terms of raw numbers. Grant applications, tenure reviews, articles, book reviews etc will be the bulk of your writing. Even as a grad student, I've written dozens of grant applications and only one dissertation chapter thus far. 

I'm confused as to why editing down correlates with potential plagiarism in your view. Normally, being more concise is about distilling your ideas. If you're agreeing with another scholar, say something like "along a similar vein as Amazing Historian" or "my work agrees with Cool Professor's analysis of Trendy Topic in XYZ ways."

Check out ProWritingAid if you want to cut out useless words that are taking up space in your SOP. 

If you can't produce an SOP in your own words within the word limits, I don't think grad school is for you. Like others have said, there are no new ideas...but if you're questioning if you may be plagiarizing, my sense is you likely are or are balancing atop a knife's edge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My two cents as someone applying and has my SOPs written: if you have to ask if plagiarism is okay, you're off to a bad start.

When I wrote my SOPs, I struggled with editing my interests down so they met the word limit. I get it. When you're passionate and excited about something, you don't want to limit yourself to 500-1,000 words (most of which won't be dedicated to your research interests anyway). But if we can all write SOPs within these word limits without plagiarizing, you can, too. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.