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Plagiarism: Avoiding Plagiarism

Tips for Avoiding plagiarism

We've looked at what plagiarism is and some of the most common examples. But, in addition to understanding and recognizing plagiarism, you must be able to avoid it in your own writing. Here are some recommended strategies to help you avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism.

Intentional Plagiarism

The Harvard College Writing Program offers the "best advice."

Here's the best advice you'll ever receive about avoiding intentional plagiarism: If you're tempted to borrow someone else's ideas or plagiarize in any way because you're pressed for time, nervous about how you're doing in a class, or confused about the assignment, don't do it. The problems you think you're solving by plagiarizing are really minor compared to the problems you will create for yourself by plagiarizing. In every case, the consequences of plagiarism are much more serious than the consequences of turning in a paper late or turning in a paper you're not satisfied to have written. Harvard Guide to Using Sources

Intentional plagiarism is a choice. It is cheating, and the odds are that you will be caught. Make the decision ahead of time to hold yourself to a high level of academic integrity. Don't put off writing assignments until the very last minute, and if you need help meet with your instructor, ask an SJR State librarian, or request a consultation with the Academic Success services on your campus.

Unintentional Plagiarism

Unlike deliberate cheating, unintentional plagiarism may occur because the writer

  • did not know how to accurately cite the source

  • did not properly paraphrase or summarize a source

  • meant to add a citation later, but either couldn't find it or forgot which source it came from.

In these cases the writer did not intend to misuse sources, but intention does not prevent plagiarism. Here is a list of important steps to avoid even accidental plagiarism.

Have a plan

Be sure to give yourself enough time to complete your assignment and have a research plan in place. By preparing ahead of time to use information sources correctly you can employ effective strategies to avoid plagiarism.

Quotations

When using direct quotations double check that you have used the source's words and punctuation exactly as they were originally written. Add quotation marks at the beginning and the end of the quoted section and cite your source immediately, even when taking notes. See the right-hand sidebar on this page to review the proper use of direct quotation.

Paraphrase

When using paraphrase be sure that your words and sentence structure are your own. Simply replacing a few key words from the original with synonyms is not proper paraphrase and is considered a form of plagiarism. See the right-hand sidebar on this page to review the proper use of paraphrase.

Keep a copy of your sources

Print or photocopy your source material so that it is available to you as you write your paper. Having hard copies available allows you to double check your citations or clear up any questions about the use of your source material.

Do it NOW

Cite your sources completely (including page numbers where needed) and immediately - both as you take your notes and while you edit and revise your paper. Never fall into the trap of waiting until the paper is finished to go back and add citations. It is just too easy to miss something, and failure to cite even one source could expose you to a charge of plagiarism.

Check and double check

Do take the time to double check your sources and citations at each step of the research process. As you revise and edit you should always double check that you have properly used and cited any words or ideas that were not your own.

Using Direct Quotation, Paraphrase and Summary

YOU SHOULD CITE WHEN:

  • Referring to a source and stating someone else's opinions, thoughts, ideas, or research
  • Using an image or media file that you did not create

 


WHEN REFERRING TO A SOURCE, YOU HAVE THREE OPTIONS FOR USING IT:

  1. Directly Quotating 
  2. Summarizing 
  3. Paraphrase 

"Which option you should choose depends on how much of a source you are using, how you are using it, and what kind of paper you are writing, since different fields use sources in different ways." Grounds for Argument. When to Quote, Paraphrase, or Summarize a Source. Used under CC BY NC SA


YOU DO NOT NEED TO CITE:

  • Your thoughts and your interpretations
  • Common knowledge​

Used with permission from Butler University Libraries under CC BY NC SA

WHAT IS A DIRECT QUOTATION:  

"Must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author."  Purdue University Online Writing Lab. (2012). Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing


USE IT:

  • If summarizing or paraphrasing cannot capture the essence or meaning of the text 
  • To retain a specific or unique phrasing used by the source's author
  • If you are analyzing the text itself (often in English or language classes)

BE ADVISED:

Most of the time when you cite a source, you want to summarize or paraphrase. Direct quotations should be used sparingly when the situation meets the criteria above. When you do use direct quotations:

  • Do not take the quote out of context. The author's meaning should not change.
  • Be sure to integrate multiple sources within your text. You don't want to have a paper or a passage that seems to have come only from one source, with little original text from you.
  • Use transitions to make sure your quote adds to your paper without interrupting its flow.

HOW TO CITE A DIRECT QUOTATION:  

  • Place quotation marks around the entire word-for-word passage, whether it's a phrase or a sentence.
  • Attribute with an in-text citation; most citation styles request that you provide a page or paragraph number when directly citing.  
  • If your quotation is longer, check with your citation style guide to see if additional formatting is necessary (block quotations, for example).  

Used with permission from Butler University Libraries under CC BY NC SA

WHAT IS A PARAPHRASE:  

"A paraphrase is a detailed restatement in your own words of a written or sometimes spoken source material. Apart from the changes in organization, wording, and sentence structure, the paraphrase should be nearly identical in meaning to the original passage. It should also be near the same length as the original passage and present the details of the original." University of Houston-Victoria Student Success Center (n.d.). Decide when to Quote, Paraphrase & Summarize.

Paraphrasing is "your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form." Purdue University Online Writing Lab. (2012). Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

When paraphrasing you must change both the sentence structure and language of the original text.


USE IT:

  • "When the wording is less important than the meaning of the source" University of Houston-Victoria Student Success Center (n.d.). Decide when to Quote, Paraphrase & Summarize.
  • If a summary would not provide enough specific details

HOW TO CITE A PARAPHRASE:  

  • Attribute with an in-text citation; some citation styles request that you provide a page or paragragh number whenever available.
  • When paraphrasing, you must change both the sentence structure and language of the original text.  Therefore, since you will be changing the text, you do NOT need quotation marks around your paraphrase.

Purdue OWL: Paraphrasing

Used with permission from Butler University Libraries under CC BY NC SA

WHAT IS A SUMMARY:  

"Involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s).... Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material."  Purdue University Online Writing Lab. (2012). Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

"Similar to paraphrasing, summarizing involves using your own words and writing style to express another author's ideas. Unlike the paraphrase, which presents important details, the summary presents only the most important ideas of the passage." University of Houston-Victoria Student Success Center (n.d.). Decide when to Quote, Paraphrase & Summarize.


USE IT:

  • To provide necessary background information for your audience
  • When broad, concise information will suffice 

HOW TO CITE A SUMMARY:  

  • Attribute with an in-text citation; some citation styles request that you provide a page or paragragh number whenever available.
  • You should not be using any word-for-word quotations or language unique to the source, so you do NOT need quotation marks around your summary.

Turnitin & Paper Rater

If your instructor does not use Turnitin, try Paperrater.com. It is free for students to use and provides grammer and spell check, plagiarism detection, and sugesstions to improve your writing. Watch this short video for help with using Paper Rater.

 


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