Let’s be clear on what plagiarism is. It is the unethical use and theft of someone else’s work which is then claimed as being your own. Building on that, there are countless reasons why you must avoid plagiarism such as the negative consequences that it entails or that it is an extremely dishonest and fraudulent act.
With the definition and reasons established, we should turn our heads to how we can avoid it in a way that it's not a difficult task but an instinct and habit. That way you can never find yourself on the side of intellectual dishonesty.
- Develop a thorough understanding of plagiarism itself and content in question
Identification is crucial for avoidance. You need a proper and in-depth understanding of plagiarism. How would you avoid something that you can’t spot?
In order to express someone else’s argument and writing in your own work with the appropriate citations you must actually know what that author was talking about. Otherwise, you won’t be able to paraphrase and restate it in your own words. You are sort of explaining that idea and attaching it to your own argument so you need to understand its essence to be able to do that and not have a copy-paste situation.
It’s a possibility that you will find yourself with barely any time to write an essay, research paper, report or work submission. In cases like that, it’s likely that using words from someone else as your own will seem tempting because you’ll think you can save time without considering the academic and professional consequences that may come with it. However, if you have planned your work and writing process beforehand then you won’t find yourself in such a situation, right?
- Leave Yourself Ample Time
You wouldn’t be sitting at 9 pm with only 3 hours to submit and wondering from where can you source the last paragraph of your essay. Think of it as a preventive technique: don’t put yourself in a setting where your chances of committing plagiarism are increased.
- Keep on Hand & Use Citation Guides Habitually
Universities have referencing style guides that can be easily accessed or they may refer you to use an external one. Either way, you’ll have a brilliant resource to keep with you as if it was a survival guide. Over time you’ll find that it really is your survival guide to get through your course with ease and desirable grades.
These guides have all details on how to paraphrase, cite, reference and build bibliographies. Referring to this as you write will make sure that your work isn’t marked down by professors. After some time, you’ll even start to remember the specifics of how to cite for the categories you use most such as academic journals if you are in the social sciences field.
- Maintain a Balance
This balance, an academic equilibrium of sorts, needs to be struck between the stuff you have found to cite during your research and your own words, argument and critical thinking. For example, in an essay, you can have everything cited and referenced perfectly but if that is your entire essay then it defeats the point of original work that is your own.
- Use a Plagiarism Checker
Adopting a proactive approach will help you go a long way. Scanning your work for plagiarism before your university or professor gets a chance will put the ball in your court and give you an opportunity to make the needed edits if your document is showing signs of plagiarism. The specific places are even highlighted with source links as well so you can easily find what to correct and fix:
Be careful, though! Some plagiarism checking tools upload your file to their databases and if someone else like a teacher scans your document too then it will show up as being plagiarized against itself. But every plagiarism checking software does not do that. For example, Plagiarism Checker X has data protection as its core business ethic and as a result never uploads your words or files to its database.
- Proofread, Edit & Repeat
Consider this a general tip on life. There are too many times when you’ll get a submitted work back and see some tiny errors that could have been avoided. Especially in the case of plagiarism, you may remember to use quotation marks but forget the in-text citation or the other way around. Maybe everything is fine in your text but you left out half of the references in your bibliography. No one wants to be in that position.
Proofreading multiple times will help you to avoid such an instance. Also, by following the 2nd way (leaving yourself ample time) you won’t be concerned about just submitting the work without giving it a thorough proofreading and editing round.
An academic tool chest full of methods to avoid plagiarism coupled with a plagiarism checking software that is effective, secure, and user friendly is extremely handy.
You will also find it to be one of your most useful possessions in any educational setting. Knowing how you can avoid plagiarism and then using that practically will show you its tangible benefits.
With ways to avoid plagiarism by your side, you could get better originality scores on your university assignments and an even more credible reputation of your published work. Everyone seeks genuine and original things, if you offer that and are transparent in citing where you sourced something then you can have an edge against the rest.