4 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism

Proceeding with Caution: 4 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism


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By Brittany O’Neill, assistant librarian in the Terry P. McMahan Library

Now that the fall semester is underway, you may have big papers or projects on the horizon. You know that plagiarism violates Hodges University’s Academic Honesty Policy and can have serious consequences, but maybe you are not sure about what plagiarism is or how to avoid it.

Picture of books.Plagiarism comes in many different forms, but at its core, it is using someone else’s ideas without giving them proper credit. Some examples of plagiarism include:

  • Using someone else’s words without giving them credit
  • Paraphrasing without giving the original author credit
  • Using media (video/images/sound/etc.) without crediting the creator
  • Purchasing or using someone else’s paper and submitting it as your own
  • Submitting a paper you wrote for another class
  • Having someone rewrite part of your paper and submitting it as your own
  • Using an incorrect or incomplete citation

Plagiarism is such a pervasive problem that 68 percent of undergraduates surveyed by the International Center for Academic Integrity admitted to cheating on assignments or tests. This may seem overwhelming, but avoiding plagiarism is actually very easy! Here are four ways you can avoid plagiarism and put yourself on the path to success:

  1. Start early – When given an assignment and/or paper, do not wait to get started. The longer you put off your paper, the more tempting it will be to “take shortcuts” and plagiarize. Make sure you plan time to work on your project so you stay ahead of the deadline. As a student, this is good for you to remember, not only to prevent plagiarism, but also to be mindful of your time management.
  2. Keep track – While writing your research paper, it is important to remember where you received your information. Oftentimes, you hit your stride while writing and you tell yourself you will go back and cite the information later. However, when it comes time to inserting citations within the text and drafting your references page, you cannot remember where you got your quote or paraphrased information. To prevent this from happening to you, make sure to keep track of all the information you plan to use in one easily accessible place. Tools such as Google Docs or Zotero can keep you organized when it is time to cite your sources.
  3. Put citations in a new light – Citing your sources is not just a burden your professors place on you; citing your sources is actually a great way to make your papers even better. Having a source from an expert in the field to back up your ideas looks better than just stating your opinions. Citing your sources allows you to borrow the author’s authority to make your argument even stronger.
  4. When in doubt, cite – If you are ever unsure if you need to cite something, it is better to give more credit than is due than not enough. If something is not your original idea, you probably need to cite it. You can always ask your professor or a librarian if you need help. You can contact librarians 24/7 at askalibrarian.org/hodges.

Student in library.Now that you have these essential tips, why not use some additional tools to ensure you avoid plagiarizing your upcoming paper or project? Plagiarism.org offers various tools to help with your grammar, writing, citation and originality.

Are you looking for a fun way to practice your plagiarism knowledge? The Lycoming College’s Goblin Threat game is a great way to test your knowledge about the rules and guidelines surrounding the topic of plagiarism. In addition, Wayne State University provides a quick plagiarism quiz for you to assess how much you know.

Take these tips into consideration as you work on those upcoming projects. Avoiding plagiarism gives you one less thing to worry about. You can learn more about plagiarism, as well as download tip sheets and practice your skills at library.hodges.edu/home/plagiarism. Good luck!