Avoiding Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism

Plagiarism means using someone else’s work without giving proper credit.

“Work” includes but is not limited to written words, art, music, information from the Internet, videos, interviews, data or statistics.

“Giving proper credit” means carefully following the formatting rules of a documentation style such as APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.


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Whether intentional or unintentional, plagiarism is a serious academic offense. It is important to inform yourself of what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it in your work.

The following are some examples of plagiarism:

  • Improper paraphrasing or summarizing even if cited correctly. When restating information in your own words you must ensure that you are synthesizing the information in your own writing style and are not simply changing a few words or reversing the order of words in the sentence.
  • Handing in someone else’s work as your own, such as another student’s paper or purchasing a paper from a paper mill.
  • Not citing information that has been paraphrased or summarized (information or ideas that have been put into your own words).
  • Providing an incorrect citation for borrowed information. Accidentally mixing up the citation and the source is still considered plagiarism.
  • Failing to put quotation marks around information that was copied even if it was cited.
  • Self plagiarism, using a previous paper for a current assignment without permission from your instructor.

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Tips to Avoid Plagiarism

  1. Start early: give yourself enough time to complete your assignment. When short on time, it is easy to make mistakes when taking notes and citing your sources. Research, citing, and writing the paper often takes much longer then anticipated; try an assignment calculator to help you manage your time.
  2. Keep track of your sources: either save your research in your email or use a reference manager such as Mendeley or Zotero.
  3. Cite correctly: learn the required documentation style APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. Check with your instructor on which style you are required to use for the assignment.
  4. Complete the bibliography BEFORE writing: complete your list of sources in the required style before taking notes and writing, so it is clear what is needed for your in-text citations.
  5. Take accurate and complete notes: when taking notes or writing your first draft, make sure to always indicate:
    • copied information – enclose in quotation marks AND provide a citation
    • paraphrased or summarized information – provide a citation
    • your own thoughts – nothing is required
  6. Take time to review and ask questions: proofread your work to make sure you cited everything correctly. Seek assistance from library staff or your instructor if you have any questions about your sources.
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