Plagiarism is using in writing someone else’s text published in paper or electronic form, without full reference to the source or even with a reference, if the volume and nature of borrowing provoke questions regarding the independence of the work performed or one of its main sections.
It is the worst sin in the academic world, and it can cost you pretty much. We are sure you are not intended to plagiarize, but anyway, too many students suffer from the accusation of plagiarism every year. Even if you are in high school, you can use these five ways to avoid plagiarism and stay on the safe side.
WAY #1. Using Direct Quotes
Put someone else’s text in quotes and mention the reference to the source of the text in a link or square bracket (a must for the academic text). In this case, citation is necessary when:
- A genuine formulation has a special meaning;
- The original phrase so faithfully conveys a meaning that it is impossible to surpass it;
- When you want to mention significant statements of a political leader or a universally recognized researcher on this issue.
When quoting, be very accurate and bring it unchanged. When quoting is not borrowed from the source, but from a secondary source, mention this in a footnote (if applicable according to the chosen formatting style), for example, cit. by: …, is given by: … and indicate the primary source itself. When adding something to the citation, you should indicate this in square brackets. Your explanations in the quotes themselves should also be enclosed in square brackets. It is allowed to single out individual passages in the quotation, but then it should be noted in the same place or at the end of quoting [highlighted by me]. To avoid doubt, it is customary to specify [highlighted in the source], even when the selection already exists in the source itself.
Quotation, the volume of which does not exceed four lines or two sentences, should be enclosed in double quotes. A longer quote is given in a separate paragraph by expanding or narrowing the margins on both sides of the text. In this method of quoting, there is no need for double quotes.
When quoting, it is allowed to remove not relevant extracts from the text, but only on condition that they do not contain meaningful content. The place of seizure should be indicated by adding this sign […] regardless of whether one word or the whole passage was withdrawn.
WAY #2. Paraphrasing
For the reasons mentioned above, do not use a lot of direct quotes in the text and preferably lead the arguments of authoritative researchers through paraphrases with reference to the source. In order to describe the author’s ideas, it is necessary to rephrase his statements, and not to rewrite them from this source. Thus it is necessary to be guided by two principles:
- The paraphrase should express the essence of the author’s ideas, do not distort and do not violate their meaning;
- The paraphrase should be directly related to the topic under discussion.
WAY #3. Using Online Plagiarism Checkers
You can’t trust them fully, but they are rather helpful when it comes to the unintentional plagiarism and online sources. All free online checkers work only with open data, it means they can’t find the same piece of text in someone else’s paper which was submitted and added to the database uniting colleges and universities. However, the possibility that you will write something that was written before is rather theoretical, isn’t it? Paid online plagiarism checkers dig deeper — they have a database of journal articles and books, they are mostly also connected to the bases of the peer reviewed journals, which means the search will be truly deep and intense. It takes more time, but it is worth it. When it comes to some serious assignments it is better to use paid plagiarism-checkers. If you have such a necessity not more than once or twice a month it is better to pay for a single check, but if you want to check every paper, it is more beneficial to buy monthly account or even an annual one.
WAY #4. Using Only Valid Sources
Pay attention to the list of sources you are allowed and required to use when writing your paper. Such lists are often provided by your professor in the syllabus to the particular course. Avoid using any kind of “wiki” articles, blogs and other sources which can hardly be named academical. Of course, there are even some tweets which have changed the history, and you can definitely quote them, however, in other cases it is better to stick to the conventional academic sources: books, peer-reviewed journals, academic journals, etc.
WAY #5. Paying Attention to the Citation Style
Failure to use the citation style properly often is the reason why students get accused of plagiarism. It is only normal because if you don’t cite something the way you should, it means that you might be willing to conceal the fact that you used someone else’s work. Use sources like Purdue Owl and similar to hone your formatting and to speed the process up find some free citation generators. Make sure that all the names mentioned in the text are mentioned in the “works cited” part — for this, use Ctrl+F first starting from the top to the bottom, then reverse.
It is not too much difficult to avoid plagiarism if you are writing your academic paper diligently and fast, but it is better to be extra cautious regarding this issue.