Chances are that you have wondered how to avoid plagiarism in your writing. It does not matter if you are writing an academic work or an article for a website. The credibility of what you write depends on the authenticity of your write-up. Plagiarism is a serious offence as it is equated to theft of content which is a serious matter. It is important to understand that you need to reference and give credit for works that are not originally yours. While paraphrasing and rewriting may sometimes help to deal with the issue of plagiarism, it is not always enough. This article will point out a few useful ways to deal with this challenge. The last thing you need is to lose your following just because you are branded a fake or copycat.
Have you ever wondered why every now and then before you submit your work, you are told to ensure it is free from plagiarism? Or, and this is common, you should reference your work? This directive is simply a way of ensuring that you do not fall victim to the plagiarism monster. What is plagiarism? Plagiarism is the act of taking research, words or and ideas of another person and presenting them as your own, that is, without citation. Since most academic institutions have well-established code of ethics to regulate their members' academic conduct, plagiarism is considered gross violation and intellectual fraud.
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Understanding plagiarism and how to avoid it
There is the need for one to understand plagiarism and learn how to avoid it so that he or she can stay on the safer side. To substantially illustrate plagiarism, let us look at some of the examples of how one could plagiarize their work. It is by understanding how it is done that you will be able to avoid it. Check out potential areas of plagiarism.
- You derive all key points for your writing work from a book, and because you do not quote directly from the book, no footnotes are provided. However, you include the book in your bibliography.
- Suppose you borrowed an essay from your friend to get ideas for your work. You copy a portion of it and proceed to present all the sources as the original work.
- You find essential information on an internet website which is under copyright. You download the information, fuse it in your work, but you do not cite the source because it is in a public domain.
- You could modify original text by using synonyms and varying the order of the material. Naturally, changing the wording to avoid plagiarism, and since material appears different from the original one, you leave out a footnote.
So the question is, which of the four scenarios above illustrates plagiarism? Well, all these are examples of plagiarism. In all the cases, the writers are submitting the work that is not theirs. Regardless of how much you try not to plagiarize, the content of that piece of work remains forged and unoriginal.
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Causes of plagiarism
There are many reasons why writers or students decide to plagiarize their work. As you will see in the list of causes mentioned below, the reasons range from lack of knowledge to dishonest intentions. However, you should understand that regardless of the reasons, none is acceptable as and there is absolutely no excuse for anyone to plagiarize someone else's work. Some of the common explanations for this habit include:
- The fear of failure
- Being sure that after plagiarizing their work, they will not be caught. Some sense of confidence that they will always get away with it.
- A desire to score good grades
- Some writers and students do not understand what constitutes plagiarism
- Poor time management where they are caught up by deadlines, therefore, they have to come up with work very fast to submit
- Lack of interest in the given assignments
- Inferiority complex.
- Lack of creativity
There are many more reasons, but in summary, these are some of the most common reasons why writers fall victim of plagiarism.
Consequences of plagiarism
Before we go farther, there is one core reason why you should find ways to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism as an academic injustice comes with a myriad of consequences. It is crucial to know the consequences of plagiarism so as to take steps to shun it completely.
The consequences of plagiarism are not far-fetched, and no one is immune to them. And just like the law knows no ignorance, these consequences do not exempt the ignorant. Therefore, before making any attempts to write any work, ensure that you understand different ways of avoiding plagiarism.
Here are the consequences of plagiarism:
- Legal consequences
With copyright laws becoming tight every single day, plagiarism is now being considered a grave legal and ethical offence. Legal repercussion here could include a prison sentence.
- Monetary penalty
You could part ways with a sizeable amount of cash if you plagiarize someone else's work. This amount is meant to pacify the author of the work you attempted to steal.
- Destroyed student reputation
A student implicated in plagiarism could be suspended or expelled with his or her academic records reflecting this fraud. Because academic institutions take plagiarism seriously, such students are likely to face rejections in other educational institutions elsewhere.
- Destroyed professional reputation
The damage of plagiarism could follow you in your entire lifetime. If you are a doctor, politician, renowned author, or a professional from any other profession, you are likely to step down from your job. This does not mean that finding another one would be easy.
- Tarnished academic reputation
Suppose you lose the ability to publish your work. This could probably mean the end of your prestigious writing career. Right? If you are found guilty of this crime, your entire academic reputation will be in shambles. Plagiarism will ruin your entire life if you are not familiar with how not to plagiarize.
With the information already provided for you in this article, you will understand that plagiarism is a heinous crime. So how do you avoid plagiarism?
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Ways to avoid plagiarism
You can use other people's work, as long as you do this from a reference point. You can also change the wording to avoid plagiarism. We do that every day but ensure you do that with fair play. In the same way that a student learns how to work, the same student can also learn how not to plagiarize their piece of work. These are straightforward steps you will need to take if you are to submit a plagiarism-free document.
Copy-pasting is the most obvious way of plagiarizing your work. Instead of merely copy-pasting, you could produce another person's work in form of your own words. This is referred to as paraphrasing. After paraphrasing, go ahead to give the citation of the work. If you want to quote the author accurately or directly, introduce quotation marks.
Read through the information you would like to use and put it in your own words. Make sure that when you are writing, you do not copy the exact words used in the source. Use not more than two words in a row. How should you, therefore, paraphrase? When paraphrasing, ensure that both the words and the sentence structures are entirely changed. This can certainly be done without changing the content. Free paraphrasing could save you the hustle and bustle of generating new information, but at the same time, keeping you safe from plagiarism.
Supposing you want to use a quote from a given source, how do you not fall into the trap of plagiarism? When quoting, use the quote the way it appears. Use quotation marks. It makes sure that you bring out who said what.
Cite while writing
Have you ever been in a situation where you are supposed to produce a citation but cannot remember where you got the information or quote from? The mistake you are making is, you do not do the citing as you do the writing. To avoid these, make sure you cite your work while writing.
Citing is one sure way of avoiding plagiarism. Do you know what citing is? It is as simple as adding the name of the author and the date of the document's publication to your work. Ensure you use the document-formatting guidelines used in your institution. Some of the format guidelines are; MLA, APA, Chicago and Vancouver. Citing can also come at the end of your work as a reference. Include reference pages after concluding your writing. This is the easiest way of how to copy and paste without plagiarizing. It is all a matter of acknowledging the original author.
Use quotations that are short
There are some rules for quoting authors' works. Most institutions do not like block quotes or quotes exceeding 40 words. Therefore, when you are quoting, use short quotes. You can limit your quotation to one or two sentences. Do not also crowd your writing with so many quotes. They give a wrong impression to readers because they do not give a flow of ideas; thus, making your paper hard to read and understand.
Request permission from the copyright holder
Do you know how to copy and paste without plagiarism? Use a written authority from the owner of the piece of information in which you are interested. With this, you could copy and paste his work for transformative use without fear of being implicated of plagiarism. However, the copying and pasting is only limited to short quotes or comments, which perhaps you are not sure that, if you alter them, they may fall under fair use or misinterpretations. You can request for copyright holders’ permission if you want to:
- Copy images, videos, and photos
The above could be copyrighted. Be sure to check that out before using them in your writing. With proper citation, many copyright holders will permit you to use their videos, photos, and images.
- Copying from a public domain or open access journal
You must always attribute copied work to the author. So, always cite work that you get from any source, be it a public domain or an open access journal.
- Involve your students and co-authors
If you understand plagiarism, ensure that everyone in your team understands it too. You can as well make sure that your document is free from plagiarism before you submit. As a student, consult your instructor if you need guidance on how to paraphrase your work. He or she will be glad to assist you to circumvent this issue.
- Citing your material
Supposing you have the material you used in a previous class; papers or other items, should you cite it? The answer is yes. Do this to avoid self-plagiarism. You must understand that once you submit your work, you give up copyright. It is, therefore, not right to reproduce work that is already elsewhere.
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How to change plagiarized essay
So how to change a plagiarized essay could be tricky if you have never done it before. In case you have that plagiarized essay, and you are wondering how to change it or how to summarize it without plagiarizing? How about using a paraphrasing tool? A paraphrasing tool is a tool that could help you find alternative ways of writing simple phrases and wordings in your essay thus, giving you a piece free of plagiarism. This is how the tool works:
- Paste the work you need to be paraphrased
- Respond correctly to what comes up
- Click on ‘GO.’
- Your re-written essay will appear below after some time.
There are so many tricks that one can use to learn how to avoid plagiarism. The seven mentioned above in addition to deploying a paraphrasing tool are just but examples. Seeing that plagiarism is a serious writing offence, it is advisable to find a technique that works for you. The bottom line, however, should be to submit a task that is clean and plagiarism-free. Knowing how to summarize without plagiarizing is very crucial.