We’ve all been there – a plagiarism report claims that instances of plagiarism were found in your paper, although you could have sworn that such a result was impossible as you haven’t plagiarized anything.
So, how to avoid plagiarism and whiten yourself (though we do believe that you never intended to plagiarize and it was all a question of paperwork)?
How to Avoid Plagiarism: Know Your Enemy
The first and foremost thing to do is to keep quiet and save your nerves. It is possible that today’s plagiarism policies are a bit too harsh. However, in today’s Web 2.0 chaos, having such policies is an absolute necessity.
What is plagiarism, after all?
Plagiarism is an act of stealing and passing off somebody’s words or ideas as your own.
What is not plagiarism?
- direct quotes (if properly cited);
- paraphrases (if properly paraphrased and cited);
- abbreviations and proper nouns – no matter how long;
- facts and ideas that are common knowledge: “Smoking is bad for your health.”
How to Avoid Plagiarism: 5 Best Tactics
Unfortunately, plagiarizing is easier than it seems. One wrong move – an omitted quotation mark, the wrong format of a citation – and you instantly get a plagiarism report for it. So, the important question is:
How to avoid plagiarism?
- Use your own words. Inserting direct quotes all over the text for reaching the necessary word count sounds like a fast and easy way to finish your assignment. But you’d better resist the temptation. Paraphrase, find synonyms, and use the thesaurus instead.
- Original: “Music is particularly suitable for the study of human emotion (especially for the investigation of positive emotion) but surprisingly few functional imaging studies have so far addressed this issue” (Koelsch and Siebel, 2010, p. 579).
- Paraphrase: Music can be an effective tool for investigating human emotions, especially positive ones, but only a few studies have used this approach until now (Koelsch and Siebel, 2010, p. 579). The reference to the original source is included after the paraphrase too.
- Change the voice and/or type of sentences
- Original: “During the past few years, music has increasingly been used as a tool for the investigation of human cognition and its underlying brain mechanisms” (Koelsch and Siebel, 2010, p. 578).
- Paraphrase: The studies of human cognition and corresponding brain processes have been increasingly using music as a tool during the past few years (Koelsch and Siebel, 2010, p. 578). Changing passive voice into active voice is one of the top strategies.
- Properly cite other authors::
Koelsch and Siebel (2010) argued that playing music in a group is so hard, that musicians have to activate all known cognitive processes (p. 580).
- Express your own ideas. Do not forget that citing authors is good, but making your own conclusions is even better. Your paper should not be a mix of citations from numerous sources. Your paper is your own narration that uses citations as strong supporting arguments for the points it makes.
- Stay fresh – avoid self-plagiarism This is probably the highest level of plagiarism, but it happens. It is not a theft, but copying and pasting some parts of your own papers from the past is self-plagiarism which doesn’t differ much from plagiarism as such.
Any comments on plagiarism? Please, share your ideas on how to avoid plagiarism in the section below.