How to Avoid Plagiarism: Ways and Tips

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Plagiarism is “copying” or “borrowing” another person’ ideas or words without proper citing. Committing plagiarism is considered to be a serious offence. The penalties vary widely from deduction of marks or failing an exam to disfellowship from the university. Using another author’s intellectual property without permission is thought to be an academic dishonesty.
However, it doesn’t mean that you should not use the writings of other authors. Citing helps you to make your work more persuasive and to clarify the sources of your essay for the reader. In addition, your colleagues or professor will have the ability to check if your statements are valid and trustworthy.

Plagiarism is not always premeditated. Sometimes students omit citations while writing a lecture or they just turn out to be ignorant. These excuses are unlikely to help you to prove your innocence. Even if you are not accused as a plagiarist your professor may still give you an “F” for your ignorance or inadvertence.

Why Should Plagiarism Be Avoided?

The main goal of studying is not only to master the skills you will need for your future work. You will get more than just knowledge: your thoughts will become more independent, you will learn how to express your own ideas based on life experience and personal beliefs. Reproducing someone else’s opinion will never allow you to find your individual style or manner of thinking, to become an original and self-sufficing personality.

Studying the legacy of well-known writers or scientists is a fundamental factor for development of the theoretical base. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel if someone has already done it before us. Our generation should be grateful for this opportunity and to give respect to great minds of the past and that is why plagiarism should be avoided.

Common Ways to Avoid Plagiarism for Students

All universities and schools unanimously declare that plagiarism is a crime, an offence, and a key problem of the modern educational process. Hundreds of books, websites, and other sources offer their own guidelines to avoid plagiarism. We’ve created an exhaustive list in order to present the most helpful ways to protect you from plagiarism accusations.

The easiest and the most obvious way is citing. You should carefully note all the sources of information while researching. This precautionary measure will save you when it comes to writing a Works Cited page. If you don’t present the list of works you’ve used for your own work or forget about at least one author, you’ll be accused as a plagiarist. There is no common citation style for all disciplines and institutes: it should be always specified by your professor. Citing is a simple way to avoid plagiarism and you shouldn’t neglect it. This measure also shows that your work has a reliable basis and that you’ve completed serious research work on your discipline.

The second common way of avoiding plagiarism is quoting. It helps the writer to mention someone else’s ideas without additional work because quoting doesn’t require conversion or narrowing of the information. You just copy the author’s words verbatim using an appropriate citation style and refer to the source.

Although quoting is not too difficult students frequently forget about some key elements. There is no need in quoting general facts: it may seem that the writer wants to increase the world count. If you are doubly sure that the paraphrasing will distort the meaning of a text, you may copy it word for word without any changes. And don’t forget to cite the author! Sometimes you also need to change the original text in order to fit in your work. Whenever you modify the author’s words, you must mention it. And be careful with replacements because they can totally change the meaning of the main idea.

The last, but no less important, rule: when you choose long quotations the formatting differs. Every citation style has its own requirements, but in general you should follow these instructions:

  • Choose a smaller font than for the main text.
  • Lessen the margins in order to indent your citation.
  • NO quotation marks are needed.
  • The quotation should be left-justified.

Surprisingly, but you will become a plagiarist even when you use your previous published works in your current writing without citing. It is considered as self-plagiarism or auto-plagiarism. The idea might seem absurd but there is nothing irrational. An author should mention that his statement has been used before. You may avoid self-plagiarism by citing your own materials.

Next way to avoid plagiarism might seem difficult but it is crucial for creating a high-quality essay. Let’s talk about paraphrasing. There are a considerable amount of definitions even though the main idea is permanent: paraphrasing is an interpretation of the original text in your own words.

However, there are a lot of hidden rocks in this statement. The most widespread mistake is to copy more than two words in a row without quotation marks. Even if you refer to the source or combine the author’s words with your own statements it might be considered plagiarism. The other common mistake is to save the original sentence structure. You should modify not only the vocabulary of the passage but also the method of expression.

A writer should follow a range of rules to provide an excellent and legitimate paraphrase. Firstly, use synonyms. You should replace all the words you can. There is only one exception: you don’t have to look for synonyms for generic words. A generic word is a lexical item which is commonly used: hand, glass, sky, etc. Secondly, don’t forget to change the structure of sentences: write two phrases instead of the complicated one; choose different parts of speech; change the voice (e. g. scientists have discovered = results of the experiment have shown).

One more helpful way to avoid plagiarism is summarizing. The main difference between paraphrasing and summarizing is the size of the eventual result: a summary is much shorter than an original passage. Using this method you should emphasize the crucial idea and ignore negligible details. It is the same method that you use while writing down a lecture, but there is a huge gap between the notes you write for yourself and an academic essay. You always have to cite the author, otherwise you’ll commit plagiarism. Your summary has to be not only a shortened version of the original passage but fully restructured as well. You can follow the same rules as for the paraphrasing.

All the ways mentioned above will not only help you to avoid plagiarism. They are aimed at a wide range of profits:

  • Present the examples to enhance your point of view.
  • They confirm the objectivity of your statements .
  • They enforce your argumentation and evidence.
  • Witness the breadth and depth of the research work and analysis.

Proper use of these methods allows students and writers to provide A-level essays. Develop your skills and say “no” to plagiarism!