How to Avoid Plagiarism: The Insider’s Guide

What Is Plagiarism?

In brief, plagiarism is a form of academic cheating in which words that are not your own are passed off as your own. This includes using other people’s words without citing them, and using too much of someone’s own text without marking it as a quote.

Did you know that if you use three or more words in the same order from a source without marking it as a quotation and without citing, you’re plagiarizing? It’s shockingly easy to do on accident. But with help, you can avoid plagiarism and create something original.

Plagiarism Statistics to Think About

34% of college officials consider academic cheating a serious offense. This is quite similar to the number of students who admit to plagiarizing a paper – about 36%. Between 75% and 98% of students in college who confessed to cheating said they had begun the practice in high school. Indeed, 85% of cheaters say that cheating is essential to stay ahead. Those who cheat feel that there is no other option but to continue their path if they want to maintain their GPA. Who is liable to plagiarize? Students at the high and low end of the scales are more likely to do so; both are more likely to feel the pressure to excel in ways that mid-level students do not. Freshmen and sophomores are more likely to plagiarize, possibly because they feel the most pressure; juniors and seniors are more likely to have learned how to create a paper on their own by the time they reach an advanced level.

The number of students who plagiarize is truly alarming. How can you avoid becoming one of their ranks, even accidentally? We want to help you, so we’ve put together a helpful list.

Why Avoid Plagiarism

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “but why should I avoid plagiarism”? After all, if so many students cheat, why shouldn’t you join them? Many have high GPAs and many are never caught. But the truth is, the risks and penalties are extremely high. If you’re caught, you will most likely automatically receive a zero on your paper, and you might even be expelled from school. Can you risk that? Is it worth it? It’s much better to take a 70% on a paper that you did your best on than to risk a 0% and expulsion on a paper that could be a 90% if you’re not caught. Honestly is always the best policy. With help, you can improve a low grade, but you’ll never be able to get better if you simply plagiarize.

how to avoid plagiarism

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Best Ways to Avoid Plagiarism

These five tips will keep you from plagiarizing. Follow them and avoid the hassle of trials and bad grades.

  1. Cite everything that’s not common knowledge: General common knowledge in the public domain, such as birth and death dates of famous figures and dates of social, military, and historical events, need not be cited. If you’re not sure if something counts, cite it.
  2. Cite anything you looked up: If you used anything not from your own head that doesn’t explicitly fall under the common-knowledge dictate, cite it.
  3. Cite correctly and immediately: If you use citation styles incorrectly, you might be accused of plagiarism! Take the time to correctly cite your source as soon as you write it down.
  4. Use quotation marks: If you use three or more of the same words in the same order as your source, you must quote it and cite it as a quote.
  5. Keep your writing separate from a source’s: When you’re doing your draft, italicize anything you got from anyone else, including ideas, and cite as soon as you can.
  6. Paraphrase carefully: When you paraphrase, be sure that you’re changing enough. You can unintentionally paraphrase by keeping the same sentence structure as your source even if you use different words. Especially, when it comes to paraphrasing in academic writingUnintentional plagiarism will probably be more leniently-treated, but you may still lose points.
  7. Use a checker: To be safe, use a plagiarism checker. You can find plenty of them online, and they will help you feel more secure, especially because your school will almost certainly use one as well.

Learn How to Paraphrase

Vital skills such as paraphrasing are crucial to avoiding plagiarism. Practice these skills and have someone you trust help you get better at them. If you don’t have anyone you can ask, our helpful staff are available to help you. We can make learning how to paraphrase correctly a breeze. There also a wide range of paraphrasing activities that can help you to improve your skills.

Learn proper citation and paraphrasing skills to avoid plagiarism and become an expert.