Jun 16 2019

13 Surefire Ways to Avoid Plagiarism in Essays

Adela Belin photo Adela Belin Content strategist and writer
Writing Advice

“It was an accident. I did not mean to!” you exclaim but it is too late. You are found guilty of submitting a plagiarized paper and there is nothing you can do to save yourself.

Original: SourceIf these are what your nightmares are made of, you do have a valid reason to worry. Plagiarism is considered to be a serious offence in the world of academics. It can result in expulsion and may have legal repercussions while putting your reputation in jeopardy.

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While many think plagiarism only refers to a word-for-word copy of someone else’s work, the truth is there are other kinds of plagiarism too such as conveniently rewording another person’s work, not citing sources or even submitting an already submitted essay to another class.

How to Smartly Avoid Plagiarism in Essays

Well, plagiarism is not always intentional. There are instances when students tend to make an “innocent mistake” just because they don’t know any better.

Intentional or not, plagiarism is certainly a grave matter. So, make sure you don’t find yourself in that situation and follow these 13 smart ways to write an essay devoid of plagiarism.

1. Understand the topic

We have all been told since school to “understand” what we are studying and the same holds true even today. When you understand the topic you are writing about, you realize that you do not need to look into what someone else has to say about it because you are able to articulate it in your own words.

Doing this adds value and shows your comprehensive understanding of the concept. So, the next time you are working on an essay or research paper, take time to brainstorm and think of the stand you are taking before clouding your opinion with someone else’s words.

2. Understand the different types of plagiarism

There are different types of plagiarism, each with its consequences. The first step towards avoiding plagiarism as a student is understanding the different types and what you should avoid them.

Here are the seven main types of plagiarism to watch out for when writing your essays:

a. Direct plagiarism

Direct plagiarism is the most blatant form of plagiarism. It occurs when you copy and paste another person's words from a website or a document verbatim without giving them credit. The consequences of direct plagiarism can be severe– a failing grade, suspension, or expulsion.

To avoid direct plagiarism, make sure to put quotation marks around any direct quotes and include a citation at the end of the quote.

b. Complete plagiarism

Complete plagiarism is where you submit someone else’s essay and claim it to be your own. For instance, submitting an essay that was written by your sister, who took the same class before you.

This type of plagiarism is often considered stealing and attracts heavy penalties, including expulsion from the college. To avoid committing complete plagiarism, always spare enough time to research and write your own essays, no matter how hard it seems.

c. Paraphrasing plagiarism

Paraphrasing plagiarism is when you take someone else's ideas or words and rephrase them in your own words without giving credit to the original author.

Even if you don't copy the exact words, if you don't give credit where it's due, it's still considered plagiarism. This type of plagiarism is often more difficult to detect because it's not an exact copy, but it's still just as serious as direct plagiarism.

To avoid paraphrasing plagiarism, always take note of your sources when you're researching. That way, if you need to paraphrase something later, you'll be able to give credit where it's due.

d. Self-plagiarism

Self-plagiarism occurs when you reuse your own previously published work without citing yourself as the source.

For instance, last semester, you wrote a paper about the American Revolution for your History 101 class. When this semester came around, your professor assigns a paper on the same topic for History 102. So, instead of doing new research and writing a fresh paper, you simply copy last semester’s paper and hand it in again.

While this may look like saving time, it's still considered plagiarism even if you wrote the original paper. If you're going to reuse your own work, make sure to cite yourself accordingly to avoid any potential penalties.

How to avoid self-plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism is when you reuse your own previously published work without citing yourself as the source. To avoid self-plagiarism, make sure you cite your own previous work when using it in a new context.

e. Patchwork plagiarism

Patchwork plagiarism is similar to direct plagiarism, but instead of copying and pasting entire paragraphs or sections, you put together sentences from multiple sources to create your paragraphs. In the end, you don't put any quotation marks or cite the sources.

Always acknowledge each source of information you use and either enclose direct words in quotation marks or rewrite them in your own words.

f. Source-based plagiarism

Source-based plagiarism is when you use someone else's ideas but don't include a reference list or bibliography at the end of your paper. This might seem like an innocent oversight, but it's a form of academic dishonesty since you're not giving proper credit to your sources.

Always include a list of references or bibliography at the end of your essay to avoid source-based plagiarism.

g. Accidental plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism occurs when you accidentally forget to cite a source or misquote a source without meaning to. This type of plagiarism is usually less serious but can still lead to disciplinary action.

To avoid accidental plagiarism, double-check your work before turning it in to ensure all your sources are correctly cited and referenced.

3. Spend enough time on research

One common reason students plagiarize is that they don't spend enough time on research and try to make up for the lost time by copying someone else's work.  When you don't research enough, you’ll be short of ideas when writing and can easily copy-paste or self-plagiarise.

To avoid plagiarism in essays, spare enough time to research and collect all the relevant reference information you need. It’s always better to have too much information than too little.

Therefore, try to spend an extra day or two on research and have your original information (together with the citations) in place before you start writing.

4. Keep track of your sources

One of the simplest ways to avoid plagiarism in essays is to keep track of your sources while conducting your research. Always note where you find each piece of information you intend to write in your essay. This includes direct quotes or ideas and concepts you intend to borrow and paraphrase.

Keeping track of your sources can be as simple as bookmarking the source websites or taking short notes on where you found which information. You can also use note-taking apps to help you track your sources.

Having all your sources in order will save you a lot of time since you can quickly go back and add citations and a bibliography once you finish writing the essay.

5. Plan your work before your start writing

Failing to plan your work before you start writing can easily lead to writer’s block and, in turn, the temptation to plagiarize. That’s why it’s always essential to plan your essay before you start writing.

Planning your essay means brainstorming ideas, doing additional research if necessary, and organizing your thoughts into brief notes. You should also come up with a clear thesis statement and an outline so that you know exactly what points you need to make and where they belong in your paper.

Having a plan will help keep you focused while writing and lower your chances of accidentally copying someone else's work.

6. Paraphrase effectively

There are times when the meaning of the original source of work is more important than the exact wording. In such cases, it is best to paraphrase so that you don’t crowd your essay with quotes.

Now, paraphrasing is a delicate matter and if not done effectively can result in plagiarism. So, how do you paraphrase without plagiarizing? The trick is to read the original work and get a thorough understanding of it such that you can write it entirely in your own words. The essence should be the same, but the words need to be original.

You might also want to add citations wherever necessary while paraphrasing.

Is paraphrasing plagiarizing?

No, paraphrasing is not plagiarizing. Paraphrasing is when you take someone else's idea and rewrite it in your own words. As long as you give credit to the original author through proper citation, paraphrasing is not plagiarism.

Can paraphrasing be detected?

Yes, plagiarism checkers can easily detect when someone has paraphrased text without giving credit to the original author. That's why it's always important to cite the source of the information you're paraphrasing properly.

How to rewrite a paragraph to avoid plagiarism?

One way to rewrite a paragraph without plagiarism is to first read the source material, note down the main points, and then express the ideas in your own words without looking at the source again.

You can also add your own analysis or interpretation of the information to make it more original. However, don’t forget to cite the original source when doing this.

7. Use quotes

Sometimes including a direct quote makes for a strong piece of evidence and strengthens the claim you are making in your essay. It is during such times that you need to use quotations which refers to using the exact words of the author.

While quoting, use quotation marks and preferably, a different font to imply that those are the author’s words and ensure the inserted quote is in context. If you are quoting a long quote, only stick to retaining the parts that are relevant to your essay and add value to your argument/claim.

8. Add your own insights and perspectives

Another way to avoid plagiarism is to make your essay original by adding your insights and perspectives. While it’s true that you’ll get most of your information from already published sources, you don't just need to regurgitate someone else's ideas and submit them in your essays.

You can always add value to existing content by including your own opinions, analyses, or opposing point of view about the subject matter. This will show the professor you’ve understood and brainstormed about the topic. It will also keep you from the temptation to copy-paste or simply rewrite other people’s content in your essay.

9. Cite sources correctly

Many students make the mistake of leaving citations for the eleventh hour which results in haphazard last minute work and mistakes. The inability to cite sources correctly can be risky and may result in accidental plagiarism.

By citing sources, you are acknowledging and giving due credit to the original source/author. Citing information includes the name of the author, date of publication and title of the journal/book.

To avoid citing incorrectly, it is important to make notes while doing research and maintain a list of references which you can include in your work in the form of in-text citations and a bibliography in the format required.

10. Always add a references page

As a college student, you know that all your essays should have a references page or bibliography at the end. This is a list of all the relevant sources you used in your essay and will show your professor that you gave credit where it was due.

Your references may include books, articles, websites, journals, or any other credible sources from which you got information.

Including a reference page is one of the best ways to avoid plagiarism since it shows that you've done your research and acknowledged your sources. Additionally, it will prevent you from committing accidental plagiarism, which occurs when you forget to cite a reference source.

Always ensure that the citations on the reference page are in sync with your in-text citations.

11. Use plagiarism checkers

While this is a no-brainer, not many take the help of plagiarism checkers when they are done writing their essays. A crucial step, this makes you doubly sure that you are submitting an essay devoid of plagiarism.

So, once you are done proofreading, make it a practice to use a plagiarism checker such as PlagScan and submit your essay with complete peace of mind. Most plagiarism checkers share a comprehensive report which you can consider submitting with your essay to prove that your work is completely original.

12. Proofread and revise your essays

Finally, always spare time to carefully revise your essays once you've finished writing. This will help you catch any accidental instances of plagiarism. If you're unsure how to proofread your work, plenty of resources available online can help you identify errors.

Some of them include Grammarly and the Hemingway editor. Alternatively, you can always ask a friend or a classmate to help you proofread your essays.

A few quick proofread will not only help you identify and remove plagiarism but will also ensure that your essay is free of typos and grammatical errors.

13. Work with reliable writing services

Whether you find yourself stuck while writing an essay or are struggling to begin due to your busy schedule, there are times when the best solution is to get help from essay writing services.

While there are several writing services in the market, what’s important is to work with one you can trust. The last thing you want is to outsource your assignment to a writing service that delivers plagiarized work.

So, assess your options and work with only reliable essay writing services. Writers Per Hour is one such service. With strict policies against plagiarism, we guarantee to deliver only 100% plagiarism-free essays that are authentic and written from scratch. We also provide a free plagiarism report with your order!

Conclusion

It’s important to be extremely attentive while writing and ensure everything you include is your own or cited properly. Don’t let your years of hard work go waste and fall into the trap of plagiarism – knowingly or unknowingly. Abide by these 13 smart tips while writing your essay and you are sure to keep plagiarism at bay!

last edit at Oct 26 2022