A former LCHS student was accepted to UC Berkeley. This student was put on Academic Probation at Berkeley for not properly documenting their research or citing sources. Assuming that the student will actually finish college (almost 50% do not), how do you think that probation will look on grad school applications?
You will never regret the time and effort you spend in high school learning to research and write well. Take "Works Cited" pages seriously and learn the tricks of parenthetical and in-text citations so you do not end up in a similar position. There is no excuse for plagiarism.
As school librarians, we want you to know that, at every grade level, you are expected to write with "your voice." In other words, write like who you are, a middle or high school student. You are expected to research properly and document sources but do not imagine that anyone expects you to write like a professor, a professional, or a college student. Your words and thoughts (analysis & synthesis) are important to the development of your writing skills over time.
If you work at expressing yourself, you will see improvement every year. It is a skill like developing a technique in a sport or learning to play a musical instrument: would you expect to play like a professional in high school? No! It takes practice, practice, practice... beginning in middle school and high school.
When preparing a written assignment, leave yourself enough time to practice those writing skills! Your confidence and skill will grow each year.
Tip #1 Give yourself the gift of TIME! Do not leave writing until the last minute!
Ms. Bozzani & Mrs. Omae
If you do not want to spend the time analyzing a Wikipedia page, use Britannica School instead. As high school students, you should be moving away from general encyclopedias as sources and only use them for background information that could be considered common knowledge.
We don't argue that this level of scrutiny is necessary for the average, everyday searches we all do for quick information. This kind of analysis is only crucial for researching matters that are of great importance to you, like your academic work in high school and college or, as an adult, crucial decisions. Would you choose a college, select a car to buy, or pick a political candidate based only on Wikipedia? We hope not.
In other words, if you have no idea what a Tesla is, Wikipedia is a great place to start. Should you buy one? Start with the Consumer Reports database instead. This is the same process you should use for academic work but with more details like citing your sources.