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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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