Plagiarism is viewed as a serious crime in the writers’ world. It has created problems for professional authors and students alike. For many people, it is easy to find information from external sources but utilizing the information without falling into plagiarism is another thing. Here are some simple guidelines that will help you escape the plagiarism trap:
- Understand plagiarism
Every writer should know what plagiarism entails. According to The American Heritage Dictionary. Plagiarism is: “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and representation of them as one’s original work.” Therefore, copy and pasting is not the only crime but also imitating the author’s work, which includes the use of synonyms. When you know what plagiarism is, it is easy to avoid it.
As you are doing your research, do not just copy and paste straight from your source. Take time to read and understand the information in your sources and put it in your words to protect yourself from being a plagiarism culprit. Also, do not copy more than two words successively from someone else’s work, as your article will be labeled as plagiarized even though it is not.
- Cite and quote.
The third way to avoid plagiarism is to cite or quote the authors of your sources in your paper. Whether you choose to site or to quote, take care to do it correctly. Use the correct names, title, and words in your quotations. Misquoting or wrongful citing constitutes to plagiarism. In case you decide to use your own previously written paper, quote and cite it as you would if another author wrote it.
- Keep your notes from your sources
Not mixing your notes with those from your sources can help you escape plagiarism. Also, it helps you to understand your sources in a way that will enable you to incorporate the information you get from there in your essay effectively.
- Use numerous sources
If you use only one source, there is a probability of you falling into plagiarism. This is because you will not have different materials to build your content on. Before you write your article, collect information from many sources. By doing this, you make sure that the resulting paper has a diversity of ideas and phrases, different from the primary sources.
- Avoid the last minute rush.
Doing your paper in a hurry means you will not have time to study, understand and paraphrase the information from your sources. So, you are likely to fall into unconscious copying and pasting which will lead to direct plagiarism. Take time to plan and research in advance. That way, you will have a chance to internalize the information and decide whether it is safe to paraphrase, quote or cite.
- Edit your work.
Proofread and edit your work to check for plagiarism before you submit it. You can use some plagiarism checker applications to help you with this. Most people will use the same to check your article anyway.
As writers, a lot of content we write is a buildup of other people’s ideas. However, how we use these ideas to build our content determines if our work will fall into the category of plagiarized material or not. Writers must take upon themselves to know how to use other peoples insights in their work and at the same time escape plagiarism.