Getting caught in plagiarism can spell the doom of your academic career. Do not take the risk of not checking your paper before you submit it. While it is easy to add information from different sources, you may fall into the plagiarism trap if you are not careful. Following are some ways to avoid plagiarism when writing a research paper.
- Learn to paraphrase.
- Learn to “quote.”
- Learn to reference.
- Learn to cite.
- Use plagiarism checker software or services
- Know what must be documented.
When you find a useful information that is ideal for your paper, you should put it in your own words. Copying it more than two words verbatim in one line will be considered plagiarism. If you have no option but to use words verbatim, make sure that you quote them.
This means that you put quotation marks in lines or words that you obtain from a particular source. When you quote, you should write the words exactly as it was originally said. However, it is not wise to put whole quotes of more than 40 words in one paragraph. You should know how to paraphrase and not just put a source’s whole work into your paper.
Adding a reference page or the page of works at the end of your paper will keep you away from being accused of plagiarism. References are specific information such as title, name of author/s, publication date and source. Again, your educational institution provides guidelines on formatting the document and you need to follow it.
It is tempting to provide information as if came from you. When you don’t cite your sources, it is plagiarism. You should follow the required formatting guidelines of your institution in adding the author, page source, paragraph number, date of publication and other relevant source information. It is simple and it will save you from plagiarism.
Aside from citing other sources or writers, you can also cite your own material. It can be considered self-plagiarism if you will use a material that you have previously submitted elsewhere. Treat your own work as you would other people’s works. Respect it by citing yourself, no matter how odd it seems.
Before you submit your work, make sure that you check it for plagiarism. You can use WriteCheck or Copyscape.
The following information should be documented, cited and credited so you can avoid plagiarism:
- Author’s specific words or phrases.
- Specific information and ideas. It can be an author’s conclusion, a method or a theory, a list of steps or an arrangement. This is not common knowledge so you must be able to present the source.
If you are stating general common knowledge, you do not have to cite a source. Examples of common knowledge information are historical events, dates of births and deaths of popular figures, political events and literary events. If, however, you are in doubt whether your information is field-specific or general, then just cite your source. The site http://isites.harvard.edu/ offers more ideas on how you can avoid plagiarism.