How to Avoid Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is defined as the fraudulent act that involves stealing and using someone else’s ideas, thoughts, language, or expressions and present them as one’s own. Some people wonder how ideas and words can actually be stolen. According to the United States’ law, the original ideas are intellectual property, which is protected by the copyright laws.

“Most plagiarists, like the drone, have neither taste to select, industry to acquire, nor skill to improve, but impudently pilfer the honey ready prepared, from the hive.” – Walter Colton

Various ways to avoid plagiarism

Acquire further meaning of Plagiarism from your instructor

If you are unsure about something concerning plagiarism, consult your instructor.

Plan your paper and create a thorough outline

Planning helps you to avoid plagiarism by preparing in advance other sources of information you are going to utilize in your paper. Planning before writing gives, you the power to balance your own idea and the idea you are borrowing from other sources.

Take thorough notes

Taking effective notes from various sources allows you to gather and organize information before writing your paper. To enhance note-taking try to use different colors or fonts and clearly differentiate between you own ideas and others from external sources. This can effectively help you avoid note-taking problems such as misquotations and improper citations, which are considered as plagiarism.

Know how to paraphrase

When you found vital information for your writing, it is advisable to read it and write it in your own words. An effective paraphrasing requires you to change the sentence structure and the words of the original sentence without changing the meaning or the content. Avoid copying more than two consecutive words from the text you find perfect for your paper. If you do so, ensure that you apply quotation marks and remember to cite.

Cite sources

It is important to include works cited or reference page at the end of your paper and ensure it includes the required information. Bear in mind that there are different document formatting guidelines such as MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian among others.

Scrutinize your sources to determine whether they are reputable and credible

Not all sources you found on the internet are valid. Therefore, there are different questions to ask yourself to help you determine sources worth citing:

  • Who is the author of the material, does he/she have an authoritative voice in their field?
  • Is the author affiliated with any organization?
  • How objective and accurate is the source?
  • Is the information provided up to date?
  • Are there technical errors in the text?