Plagiarism: something to avoid at all costs

Plagiarism: something to avoid at all costs

You may be quite pleased with your work but you know you’ve used other sources in your assignment and even pasted in some blocks of text you found online. The problem is English is not your first language and you are worried that if you try to rewrite it you will lose the meaning and make a complete mess of it. It’s not your intention or desire to cheat and you know the consequences of being labelled a plagiarizer.

Many students, especially ones who are not native English speakers, find themselves in the above situation. Unfortunately, some students think that they can change a little bit of vocabulary, a word here a phrase there, and everything will be ok. Well unfortunately that is not how it works; or rather that is not how the plagiarism scanner works.

But let’s go back a step. The first plagiarism scanner is your supervisor. If they see sentences which stand out from the others in some way they may type some of the words into Google to look for matches. If they find a match they are likely to ask you for a digital (soft) copy of your work to put through Turnitin.

There is no definitive answer to the question: What is an acceptable percentage on Turnitin? In the end each institution has its own guidelines and each supervisor his ownFree Plagiarism Checkinterpretation of them. We could however look at the way a Turnitin report presents the percentages for a clue. The colour blue is used for a 0% which is virtually never achieved. The next band is for one word to 24% and this is indicated by the colour green. Yellow and red the colours of peril and warning are used above this level. This is no cast iron guideline but we can certainly safely assume that 25% or above is much too high.

So how can you avoid all this drama in the first place? Well, if there is the slightest chance that you may have included material from other sources without thoroughly paraphrasing it and correctly citing it then you need to scan it first before you submit it. If you are unsure how to do this or how to interpret the results then contact a professional for help, for a small fee they will be able to scan it for you perhaps for a small fee.

If your work is showing either a percentage above say 20% or some particular large blocks of matching text then have this heavily edited, or perhaps if you are above the minimum word count, removed or a combination of both. Rewriting in this way is a specialist skill so once again you may wish to ask for the assistance of a professional.

After the rewriting is done, make sure you rescan the work to check that the percentage has dropped to an acceptable level, then it should be ready to submit and you can sleep easy!

If you need help contact me today!