Tips to avoid plagiarism

The issue of plagiarism is a serious concern for every student as universities take plagiarism to be a very gross academic offence. Dealing with this challenge can therefore make the difference between passing or failing your course.

Can you avoid plagiarism?  To avoid plagiarism, one must refer to the original information source.

“There are many ways to avoid plagiarism, including developing good research habits, good time management, and taking responsibility for your learning. Here are some specific tips:

  • Do not procrastinate with your research and assignments. Good research takes time. Procrastinating makes you likely to run out of time or be unduly pressured to finish. This pressure can often lead to sloppy research habits and bad decisions. Plan your research well in advance, and seek help when needed from your instructor, and several reputable university websites.
  • Commit to doing your work. If you do not understand an assignment, talk with your instructor. Do not take the “easy way” out by asking your roommate or friends for copies of previously submitted assignments. A different aspect of this is group work. Group projects are prevalent in some classes on campus, but not all. Please make sure you clearly understand when your instructor says it is okay to work with others on assignments and submit group work on assignments versus when assignments and papers need to represent your work.
  • Be 100% scrupulous in your note-taking. As you prepare your assignment, begin drafting your paper. One good practice is to label in your notes your ideas clearly (write “ME” in parentheses) and ideas and words from others (write “SMITH, 2005” or something to indicate author, source, source date). Keep good records of the sources you consult and the ideas you take from them. If you are writing a paper, you will need this information for your references cited list to benefit from the excellent organization from the beginning.
  • Cite your sources carefully. Always cite other people’s work, words, ideas, and phrases that you use directly or indirectly in your paper. Regardless of whether you found the information in a book, article, or website, and whether it is text, a graphic, an illustration, chart, or table, you need to cite it. When you use words or phrases from other sources, these need to be in quotes. Current style manuals are available at most reference desks and online. They may also give further advice on avoiding plagiarism.
  • Understand good paraphrasingSimply using synonyms or scrambling an author’s words and phrases and then using these “rewrites” uncredited in your work is plagiarism, plain and simple. Good paraphrasing requires that you genuinely understand the original source, use your own words to summarize a point or concept, and insert in quotes any unique words or phrases you use from the original source. Good paraphrasing also requires that you cite the original source. Anything less, and you veer into the dangerous territory of plagiarism.”

Yes, you can avoid plagiarism!

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