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Plagiarism: what is it and how to avoid it

Plagiarism is an increasing issue that is being faced by students and even researchers nowadays. Despite clear and strict policies for cases of plagiarism among universities and institutions, reports of plagiarism cases are still higher than ever. Such acts could be a result of moral breakdown or ignorance. Seen as a serious case of ethical breach, even a punishable felony under certain laws, plagiarism deserves more attention and individuals need to be aware of possibly falling into its trap.

Plagiarism defined

To begin with, plagiarism is defined as an act of fraud where it can take place in multiple ways. Plagiarism takes place when a user steals the ideas of another one and puts them under one’s name, or introducing an idea as a new or an original one when it is has been copied from a source. Another act of plagiarism is taking the literal words without crediting the source and attributing it to yourself.

Plagiarism can be done and committed in many types of media such as videos, images and music. However, as we speak of research here, plagiarism is mentioned regarding papers, books, journals, etc. where it is considered a serious ethical issue. This blog discusses the different types of plagiarism and how to stay away from it.

Types of plagiarism

As plagiarism is an unethical act, it includes different actions under it such as:

  • Literal copying: where the writer copies the words and ideas of another author word for word without mentioning the original source.
  • Paraphrasing: where the writer copies the idea of the original source but changes the wording of it. The original source has to be acknowledged for the idea and making sure it derives the same meaning.
  • Substantial copying: where the writer copies tables, diagrams, charts, etc. without citing the source.
  • Text recycling: where the user republishes part or parts of another own’s paper. The author’s first paper must be mentioned as a source in the second publishing; whether quotes or ideas.

How to prevent plagiarism

As simple as it may sound, but one main way to prevent plagiarism is to cite. Citations can be in-text citations where the author cites another author’s ideas or words. When citing someone’s quote, words should be placed in block quotes ( “ “ ) followed by the citation of the author. Citations follow many guidelines such as APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. where each institution follows different guidelines.

Another effective way to stay away from plagiarism is to paraphrase. During your research, if you have found the information that fits the best into your paper, make sure to paraphrase the words into your own. This prevents plagiarism too. You can mention that the author mentions this certain idea, but then paraphrase the wording to make it yours. One main point to take into consideration when paraphrasing is delivering the same idea and opinion of the sourced author. It is better to fully understand the author’s perspective and then write it in your own words; no one wants to be misrepresented.

Referencing is also an important aspect in research papers, and can significantly prevent plagiarism. Any research paper must include a reference page, where it is inclusive of all the sources used within the paper. Referencing all the sources used prevents plagiarism, as the credits are given to the authors. The reference page includes full citations including author’s first and last name, co-authors, full journal and paper name, full-page numbers and issues in order to provide all the details needed for referencing.

Before you submit your paper

  • Check for plagiarism on plagiarism checker websites to make sure you are on the safe side. Many tools are available for users to check the original content compared to the copied content. Ensure your copied words are cited to avoid plagiarism, and make sure your original content exceeds your copied words.
  • Revise all citations and ensure they all follow the formatting guidelines required (such as the use of quotation marks “” when copying a text)
  • Ensure paraphrased citations are followed by in-text citations.
  • Include mentioned sources within a text in a bibliography section/ reference page.
  • All sources have been cited, including diagrams, charts, tables, etc. even if you are citing your own.

Plagiarism is an unethical act and can cause serious consequences to both users; the user and the author of the sources. It is an act often be detected with technologies in order to ensure students and researchers are employing ethical practices in writing their work. These plagiarism technologies include detection software such as Turnitin and iThenticate by scanning massive databases of archived content for similarities. To avoid the hassle and produce content that is purely your own, many actions can be taken towards producing an original ethical paper; the steps mentioned above can help you through the process until the submission time.

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