What Plagiarism is and How to Avoid It

What is plagiarism and what can be done to avoid it? This article hopes to enlighten you on what exactly plagiarism is as well as to teach methods of avoiding plagiarism.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is taking someone else’s ideas or words and using it as your own, without referencing the actual source. There are many types of plagiarism and all are considered serious offences. In some universities the act of plagiarising can be punishable with expulsion.

Types of Plagiarism

Verbatim Copying is copying the exact words of an author with no acknowledgement of the source it was taken from.
Straight Plagiarism is making small changes to sentences from sources, for example by adding a few words or deleting a few with no adequate citation of the source.

Patch Writing is taking a few sentences from different sources and putting it together as one’s own work.

Unintentional Plagiarism

Often when students are accused of plagiarism they say that it was done unintentionally, but whether it is done intentionally or not, it is still an offence and care should be taken to avoid it. The following is a list of 10 things that should be done in every essay to avoid committing plagiarism.

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism

1. Use Referencing

Everything you take from your sources must be referenced. This means that you have to give acknowledgement of any ideas, arguments or words taken from the research and writings of other authors on the subject.

2. Use the Right Style of Reference

Every academic field and institution has their preferences in reference style used in essays. Always make sure you know which type you are expected to use. The most commonly used is the Harvard referencing method, but for example when writing a psychology essay the APA (American Psychological Association) style is used.

3. Use In-Text Citation

In text citation is a form of referencing that appears in the body of your essay and is a shortened form of what appears in the reference list. It should appear right after the part you took from a specific source. It usually contains the author’s surname and the date of publication. Sometimes the page number is also needed. Take note that again each style of referencing has different formats for in text citation.

4. Use Quotation Marks

When quoting an author’s words directly, put the exact words in quotation marks (“ ”) and remember to reference the quote by adding in text citation right after the quoted part.

5. Remember Your Reference List

When writing an essay one should always have a reference list, also known as a bibliography, at the end pages. This list should contain all authors and their work that you have used to form your essay argument and have referenced in your essay.

6. Use Your Own Words

Do not take words directly from the source and pretend that they are yours. Rather paraphrase it and say it in your own words, but remember to reference it too.

7. Plagiarism Checkers

There are programmes online that can help you check for possible plagiarism in your essay before you submit it. At some universities and colleges or for certain subjects, you have to submit your essay to the online plagiarism programmes before you may submit your essay to the markers.

8. Use Plagiarism Guides

Use the resources your study institution provides to students in order to help you avoid plagiarising. A plagiarism case is a serious matter and all places of study provide their students with guides and training on how to avoid plagiarism. Refer to your campus library or online facilities for anti-plagiarism guides and resources to avoid punishment.