How to Avoid plagiarism
Citing is one of the effective ways to avoid plagiarism. Follow the document formatting guidelines (i.e. Harvard, APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) used by your institution or the journal if it is for publication. This usually entails the addition of the author(s) and the date of the publication or similar information. Citing is simple and not citing properly can constitute plagiarism. However, the fact that you cite the author does not mean you are not plagiarsing if you use the same words, unless of course you put the text in quote marks and include a page number in the citation. (e.g – “text” Bryman, 2008, p. 345). However, your supervisor and the examiner grading your dissertation or thesis will not be impressed if you use too many direct quotes.
Part of your effort to avoid plagiarism is the inclusion of a thorough and accurate list of references at the end of your paper. The format for this is very precisely prescribed. Make sure you check with your institution which referencing guide you should be using. However, as with citations the reference list is not defence against plagiarism if you use the same words that the original author used.
As mentioned quoting can help you avoid plagiarism but is not very popular among universities who believe their scholars should be able to effectively paraphrase most material. This is especially true for block quotes – the longer intented quotes of 40 words or more. If you do quote verbatim then make sure you faithfully reproduce the exact words used by the original author.
So there you have it – three ways to defend against plagiarism, two of which (citations and referencing) which don’t actually help if you use the same words as the original author and a third one (quoting) which may lose you marks if you overuse it.
So much for solving my problems.. I hear you say.
Well I’m not finished yet because there is still the secret weapon against plagiarism – paraphrasing. Skillful paraphrasing can change the words used without changing the meaning. Have a look at the example below.
The only problem here is that paraphrasing is a pretty difficult skill to learn and many students and researchers simply don’t have time. If this is your situation then why not drop me an email and we can see if I can help you with it. For more information on paraphrasing click here.
Two more tips!
Can you plagiarise your own work?
The simple answer is “Yes!” If you are using text from work you have done previously then you need to cite it and paraphrase just as if it were any other author.
Copy and paste
Here’s a tip .. if you do want to copy and paste into your document from another author’s work then as soon as you do change the colour of the text to red so you don’t forget it needs total rewriting/ paraphrasing.