When you’re writing a paper for academic purposes, whether it’s a research project or a case study, you must include information from third-party sources.
This lends authority to any work and in most cases, it’s actually required in the paper instructions.
However, there’s a big difference between using other sources to enrich your original work and copying someone else’s words as your own.
This difference is what we call plagiarism.
Article Table of Contents
What is Plagiarism – and 5 Ways to Avoid It
Plagiarism is an unethical action of using other people’s words and/ or ideas.
It can be either accidental or planned.
No matter why it happened, plagiarism is considered a grave intellectual and academic offense.
If you’re caught, this can have only bad consequences.
The best scenario is – your professor gives you a warning.
The worst is – your paper gets retracted and you get a low grade, fail your subject, or even get a punishment.
Knowing all this, it’s imperative for you as a student to not only understand but do your best to avoid plagiarism.
Here are five ways to do this.
Cite All Your Sources Accurately
Many students decide not to cite a source just because they used a small bit of it or because they completely paraphrased the content.
This is a very big mistake.
Plagiarism checkers can easily detect even the slightest copying of content.
This is not only unethical, but it will also get you caught.
Whenever you use information from other sources, make sure you add a citation.
In it, include the full name of your source, as well as other citation elements such as author, publishing date, etc.
Refer to your instruction’s formatting and citation requirements for more specific details.
Use Proper Plagiarism Checker
Plagiarism can happen even if you do everything right.
With so many different interpretations of the same topics, unintentional plagiarism is very common.
You’ll also need to use many sources to write your research papers, which makes it hard to create all-original content.
Thankfully, you can perform an essay similarity check to see if your content is similar to anything else online.
A quality plagiarism checker can point out any copied content that can get you in trouble.
Before you submit any of your assignments, make sure to choose a quality online checker that you’ll use to detect any possible plagiarism in your assignment.
Look for a reliable tool that will detect even the smallest bits of similar content.
Rest assured, your professors and school will do the same.
For sure, there’s one great way around using other people’s work.
Still, even when you paraphrase, you’ll need to give credit where credit is due.
In most cases, professors will allow a certain amount of plagiarism to show in the scanner.
This is because students often use quotations, which are word-for-word copying of other people’s work. They use it to strengthen their content and prove a point.
However, if you do this too often, you’ll find that your paper is mostly plagiarized.
This is where paraphrasing comes.
To avoid it as well as show readers that you understand the work you’ve been researching (this is highly important if you want a high grade), you need to paraphrase.
Writing things in your own words shows that you understand the topic and have performed the necessary research.
If you keep copying other people’s work word for word, it will only seem like you opened a book and started writing the same things in your own paper.
Quotations and citations have a similar purpose, but they are different in many ways.
When you quote someone, you’re using their content word for word, therefore giving them more credit or using their words as a basis for your analysis and research.
When you use a citation, you’re paraphrasing their work, but still showing readers that it isn’t your own wording.
Whenever you decide to insert words in your paper, verbatim, you need to include quotations.
This is the only right way to avoid plagiarism.
Even if a detector finds the content, which probably will happen, the reader will be able to see your citation and the quote marks that show you’re citing someone else’s work.
Never, ever use other people’s words as your own.
Unless you have a direct quote and tell readers where you got your information, this is considered plagiarism.
To paraphrase successfully without plagiarizing, you need time, writing skills, and a lot of focus.
Your task is to format the writing and reword it in a very original way.
You need to avoid similar phrases and words, but still, retain the idea of the original author.
Once you do this, don’t forget to cite your source.
Add Your Own Ideas into the Content
Writing a research paper does not revolve only around doing research on other people’s work. In fact, this is a small purpose of the paper.
The big purpose and idea behind it are to make you explore the topic and showcase your opinions and knowledge.
Instead of using source after source to write your research paper, give it a personal touch.
Your assignment needs your unique point of view or perspective, or at least an explanation of how you see things and why.
You will allude to other people’s work to frame your points but in the end, this is your original assignment.
As such, you need it to include your ideas and thoughts.
Plagiarism is always a bad idea for a research paper.
This is why you need to do your best to avoid it.
Not only is this frowned upon in schools, but it’s actually forbidden and punishable by law.
To avoid any trouble that might come your way because of copied content, always make sure to submit original papers.