After some debate, the judges of the Academic Writing Contest 2017 decided not to award any prizes this year. There were, however, two papers which were not without merit. I will refer to these here as 'Paper A' and 'Paper B'. Paper A was quite well written, perfectly formatted, and the author had done a reasonable amount of reading on the topic. Unfortunately, the paper did not contain an original thesis statement. Paper B, by contrast, was exceedingly original. Unfortunately, however, although the judges agreed that this paper has a great deal of potential, at the current time, not enough reading of secondary sources has been carried out. While we appreciate attempts at original research, we also expect the author of a paper to have done a sufficient amount of reading on the topic. The judges were impressed with aspects of both Paper A and Paper B, but due to the problems mentioned above, we felt neither of them could be given a prize.
The judges were rather disturbed to discover what might be called 'borderline plagiarism' in several of the papers. Although we assume it was unintentional, and based on a failure to understand exactly what plagiarism is, several of the authors came dangerously close to being accused of blatant plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence, and so we urge those that might be interested in participating in the contest in the future to make sure they gain a clear understanding of exactly what plagiarism is and how they can avoid it.