How to Avoid Plagiarism

In the age of technology, it is sometimes extremely difficult to avoid plagiarizing someone's work, considering the size of information on the internet. The Cambridge Dictionary explains the term "plagiarism" as "the process or practice of using another person's ideas or work and pretending that it is your own." It happens deliberately most of the time; however, it can also result from forgetfulness.

We will look at this issue in terms of writing and offer some tips on how to avoid it.

1.    Research the topic thoroughly

The primary culprit behind the plagiarism is probably a little research or no research at all. As mentioned above, the availability of the massive amount of data on the web encourages people not to do their own research and borrow what is already there. Even though there are no specific laws regarding plagiarism in some countries, it is an ethical offense towards the original owners. However, some governments subject it to penalties, dismissal from an academic institution, or even imprisonment.

2.    Use quotation marks

There are some instances where you may need to use the information the way it is presented in the source, word-for-word. It is called a direct quote. In this case, that piece of information should have quotation marks around it. This step indicates that the words are not yours, and you give credit to the source. Some believe that quoting others' work is your weakness and that you are not able to come up with your own ideas, but in reality, it can boost your writing and show that you are actually researching your topic and bringing proof of similar ideas to your writing.

3.    Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is the alternative to direct quotation. It is a technique that allows presenting information using your own words. The size of the paraphrased text is usually the same as the original, and it preserves the ideas expressed in the source material.

4.    Text citations

Whether you use direct quotation or paraphrasing, the author should be acknowledged using citations. It can be an in-text citation or bibliography. The in-text citation is when you reference the writer at the point where you quote or paraphrase their content. Bibliography, also called the reference list, is usually used at the end of the paper and shows all the resources you use. When quoting, provide the writer's name, book, year, page, or anything available. Just the author's name and the book may be enough if you paraphrase because you are not using the exact words, and therefore, you can't cite the page. It should be noted that the paraphrasing and quoting of other sources should be limited, even if you mention everything you use. Otherwise, you may face copyright infringement.

Another point to keep in mind is that you must cite the right source to avoid misinformation.

5.     Plagiarism checker tools

The software that helps to detect plagiarism is used widely around the world, especially by the teachers, to check student assignments. It provides the opportunity to check content against billions of different webpages on the internet by comparing the text components. It is most useful if the content is just a copy-paste of another work. These tools usually show some false-positive results as in phrases, jargon, or sentences used by the general public. While some of these tools claim 100% accuracy, it is almost impossible to get that result, no matter if the tool is free or premium. Tools such as Turnitin, Unicheck, PlagScan, Copyleaks may help to some degree.