Plagiarism is a perennial problem faced by almost every student when it comes to writing papers. There is a lot of content available on the internet, and getting some similarities in writing is almost inevitable.
However, there are some things that you can do to avoid committing plagiarism. In this post, we will be looking at a few tips that you can follow.
But before getting to the tips, it’s essential to discuss the concept of plagiarism because avoiding plagiarism becomes easier if you know the concept correctly. So, without any further delay, let’s begin.
What Is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism has become a common term now. Therefore, various sources have defined this crime in different ways. However, before discussing our concept of plagiarism, let’s borrow its definition from two of the most authoritative sources.
According to the University of Oxford:
“Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition” (Oxford).
Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning defines plagiarism as:
“Plagiarism is the use of another’s work, words, or ideas without attribution“ (Learning).
Thus, as per the above-discussed definitions, when someone takes another author’s content and passes them off as their own without giving credit, that’s plagiarism. This situation also applies to facts and concepts that are not widely known or accepted and need to be cited in the original source.
Avoiding Plagiarism in Papers: 4 Tips
1. Write From Your Own Perspective
The most straightforward technique for writing plagiarism-free content is to use your own perspective on the researched data. Therefore, this technique is tip number one of this guide.
Every human being has a different way of looking at things. Therefore, everyone understands concepts differently. And this theory makes it easier to craft a unique and original paper. But let’s get into the nitty-gritty of this concept.
Using your own thoughts and perspective to present the researched idea is the best way to write unique content. Therefore, you can use this approach to add originality and depth to your paper and demonstrate a clear understanding of the content. Besides, this approach will also help carry the research paper clearly and logically.
Thus, here are some tips for presenting the researched idea from your thoughts or perspective:
- Analyze the data and use your insights and observations to explain it.
- Use your point of view to understand the meaning of data and see how it relates to the topic in a larger context.
- Make the data more relatable to your readers by explaining it with the help of your experiences and knowledge.
- Ask questions to your readers and explore possible solutions using your understanding.
2. Paraphrase the Information
Sometimes, while researching the data for a research paper or essay, you stumble across a source that contains essential information. You want to include that information in your work, but you can’t because you’re afraid of falling prey to plagiarism.
In such a situation, there’s a way around and that way is to paraphrase the information. So, tip number two of this guide is paraphrasing the information to keep your work plagiarism-free.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines paraphrasing as:
“A restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form” (Merriam-Webster).
So, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, paraphrasing refers to rewording or paraphrasing the text while maintaining its original meaning. However, paraphrasing is easier said than done because it requires a good understanding of the material and excellent writing skills. Therefore, use the following tips to obtain the successful paraphrasing of any passage:
Some Tips of the Trade to Paraphrase the Information
- Read the source information again and again until you’ve understood its theme.
- Once you’ve acquired the gist, write it in your words without looking at the source. Doing so will help you paraphrase the content in a better and effective way.
- When writing the information in your words, use a combination of several approaches, such as active-to-passive voice conversion and vice versa, conditional-to-inverted conditional modification, and synonym replacement.
- Focus on individual paragraphs instead of paraphrasing the whole data at once.
So, here is how the implementation of the aforementioned tips will look in a real scenario:
Woah! That’s a lot of work. But you can reduce the effort of paraphrasing the information with the help of modern-technology-based paraphrasing tools. As several tools are available in the market, choosing the right one can be challenging. However, you can try the following for different purposes:
All the aforementioned tools are our recommendations because they work on state-of-the-art AI technology. That’s why these tools provide the most accurate output. But let’s see an example screenshot from all three tools to understand how they work.
For this example, we’ll input the following paragraph in each tool:
Sample Paragraph: Paraphrasing, when done well, can be a very effective way of communicating your thoughts and ideas. However, some people misuse the process and end up doing something very different than what the goal was in the first place. So, use this blog post to learn to paraphrase the material successfully.
So, that’s how you can paraphrase the information. But to keep your content free of any plagiarism traces after rephrasing, it’s essentquilial to cite the source of the original information. Otherwise, the paraphrased information will be considered plagiarism.
3. Use Quotation Marks
Undoubtedly, paraphrasing proves helpful in explaining existing information in your words. But sometimes, when you present something in your words, it modifies its meaning or ruins its essence. So, if this situation represents your case, you can use tip number three of this guide.
Tip number three of this guide states that if you want to make your writing 100% unique while including a piece of text from an existing source, you can enclose that information in double-quotes. However, you shouldn’t modify the data held in double-quotes. Otherwise, the implementation of this technique will be unsuccessful.
Thus, once you’ve included the information in double quotes, you should add an in-text citation according to the recommended citation style. Then, it’s also essential to cite the reference of in-text citations on the reference page.
So, that’s how you can include the text (as it is) from an existing source. But let’s see the practical implementation of this technique through the following example:
Other than the in-text citation, you can see that the rest of the sentence is enclosed in quotation marks.
4. Don’t Forget to Cite Your Sources in the Proper Styles
As we’ve discussed earlier, paraphrasing and enclosing the text in quotation marks are two of the most effective techniques to keep plagiarism away from work. But these two techniques will only assist in making your work plagiarism-free when you cite the source of the original information. Therefore, tip number four of this guide is to cite your sources.
Citing the sources is a fancy name for giving credit to the original owner of the information. So, the informal and easiest way of crediting the original owner is to write ‘According to William Shakespeare’ and hyperlink ‘William Shakespeare.’
But since this guide is related to formal writing, the aforementioned way of crediting the information is not enough. That’s because formal writing style requires the use of proper citation styles. So, let’s see the pattern of the three most common citation styles (Library, 2012).
Patterns of Three Most Common Citation Styles
How Can You Ensure That Written Content Is Plagiarism-Free?
After implementing all the above-discussed tips, you can increase the likelihood of writing a plagiarism-free paper. But you can still accidentally fall prey to plagiarism. Therefore, verifying the content originality status is essential before submitting the paper. And for that, you can take assistance from a plagiarism checker.
However, like paraphrasing tools, the internet is filled with the availability of various plagiarism detectors. So, selecting one tool can be challenging, especially if you’re a beginner. And if you are in a similar situation, we recommend using either the plagiarism checker of Grammarly or Prepostseo. Why?
Well, both these tools have an extensive library of resources. So, the results of these tools will always be accurate. But let’s prove this claim through an example.
For this example, we’ve taken the following lines:
Now, we’ll perform a content originality test on the aforementioned lines with the help of recommended plagiarism checkers. So, after running a scan for plagiarism, both tools have provided us with the following results:
As you can see in the above images, both tools have highlighted unoriginal sentences and provided a ratio of plagiarized content. So, that’s how you can check for any possible traces of plagiarism before submitting your work. Doing so will help you verify the originality status of your paper before your instructor does it.
Plagiarism is a severe issue. But the best way to avoid it is to ensure you’re using quality content. And when it comes to creating quality content, the key is an extensive research phase.
However, research will only help in creating quality content. And when it comes to including information from existing sources, you can either paraphrase the text or enclose it in double quotes. Either way, you will have to mention the source of the original information. Otherwise, your work will not be 100% plagiarism-free.
Thus, to get a detailed explanation of writing plagiarism-free content for research papers or essays, read the above discussion.
Birmingham, U. o. Harvard: Reference List and Bibliography. University of Birmingham. https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/as/libraryservices/library/referencing/icite/harvard/referencelist.aspx
Learning, Y. P. C. f. T. a. What Is Plagiarism? Yale University. https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/undergraduates/using-sources/understanding-and-avoiding-plagiarism/what-plagiarism
Library, B. U. (2012, August 31, 2022). LibGuides: Citation: Citation Styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). Brown University Library https://libguides.brown.edu/citations
Merriam-Webster. (November 19, 2022). Paraphrasing Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paraphrasing
Oxford, U. o. Plagiarism | University of Oxford. University of Oxford. https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/guidance/skills/plagiarism
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