It’s easy to find information for most research papers, but it’s not always easy to add that information into your paper without falling into the plagiarism trap. There are easy ways to avoid plagiarism. Follow some simple steps while writing your research paper to ensure that your document will be free of plagiarism.
6 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism
- Paraphrase - So you have found information that is perfect for your research paper. Read it and put it into your own words. Make sure that you do not copy verbatim more than two words in a row from the text you have found. If you do use more than two words together, you will have to use quotation marks. We will get into quoting properly soon.
- Cite - Citing is one of the effective ways to avoid plagiarism. Follow the document formatting guidelines (i.e. APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) used by your educational institution or the institution that issued the research request. This usually entails the addition of the author(s) and the date of the publication or similar information. Citing is really that simple. Not citing properly can constitute plagiarism.
- Quoting - When quoting a source, use the quote exactly the way it appears. No one wants to be misquoted. Most institutions of higher learning frown on “block quotes” or quotes of 40 words or more. A scholar should be able to effectively paraphrase most material. This process takes time, but the effort pays off! Quoting must be done correctly to avoid plagiarism allegations.
- Citing Quotes - Citing a quote can be different than citing paraphrased material. This practice usually involves the addition of a page number, or a paragraph number in the case of web content.
- Citing Your Own Material - If some of the material you are using for your research paper was used by you in your current class, a previous one, or anywhere else you must cite yourself. Treat the text the same as you would if someone else wrote it. It may sound odd, but using material you have used before is called self-plagiarism, and it is not acceptable.
- Referencing - One of the most important ways to avoid plagiarism is including a reference page or page of works cited at the end of your research paper. Again, this page must meet the document formatting guidelines used by your educational institution. This information is very specific and includes the author(s), date of publication, title, and source. Follow the directions for this page carefully. You will want to get the references right.
Checking Research Papers
Be sure to edit your research paper carefully and check for plagiarism before turning it in to the class. The steps above are essential for research paper writing. Using plagiarism checker services such as WriteCheck is a great way to assess your paraphrasing and other anti-plagiarism skills. Most educators and educational institutions are using some kind of plagiarism checker software to check students’ papers. Do not take the chance of not checking your research paper. Plagiarism could mean the loss of your academic degree or career.
Writing a research paper poses challenges in gathering literature and providing evidence for making your paper stronger. Drawing upon previously established ideas and values and adding pertinent information in your paper are necessary steps, but these need to be done with caution without falling into the trap of plagiarism.
Plagiarism is the unethical practice of using words or ideas (either planned or accidental) of another author/researcher or your own previous works without proper acknowledgement. Considered as a serious academic and intellectual offense, plagiarism can result in highly negative consequences such as paper retractions and loss of author credibility and reputation. It is currently a grave problem in academic publishing and a major reason for retraction of research papers.
It is thus imperative for researchers to increase their understanding about plagiarism. In some cultures, academic traditions and nuances may not insist on authentication by citing the source of words or ideas. However, this form of validation is a prerequisite in the global academic code of conduct. Non-native English speakers face a higher challenge of communicating their technical content in English as well as complying with ethical rules. The digital age too affects plagiarism. Researchers have easy access to material and data on the internet which makes it easy to copy and paste information.
Related: Conducting literature survey and wish to learn more about scientific misconduct? Check out this resourceful infographic today!
Guard yourself against plagiarism, however accidental it may be. Here are some effective tips to avoid plagiarism.
- Do not copy–paste the text verbatim from the reference paper. Instead, restate the idea in your own words.
- Understand the idea(s) of the reference source well in order to paraphrase correctly.
- Examples on good paraphrasing can be found here (https://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QPA_paraphrase.html)
Use quotes to indicate that the text has been taken from another paper. The quotes should be exactly the way they appear in the paper you take them from.
3. Identify what does and does not need to be cited
- Any words or ideas that are not your own but taken from another paper need to be cited.
- Cite Your Own Material—If you are using content from your previous paper, you must cite yourself. Using material you have published before without citation is called self-plagiarism.
- The scientific evidence you gathered after performing your tests should not be cited.
- Facts or common knowledge need not be cited. If unsure, include a reference.
4. Manage your citations
- Maintain records of the sources you refer to. Use citation software like EndNote or Reference Manager to manage the citations used for the paper
- Use multiple references for the background information/literature survey. For example, rather than referencing a review, the individual papers should be referred to and cited.
5. Plagiarism Checkers
You can use various plagiarism detection tools such as iThenticate or eTBLAST to check for any inadvertent plagiarism in your manuscript.
Tip: While it is perfectly ok to survey previously published work, it is not ok to paraphrase the same with extensive similarity. Most of the plagiarism occurs in the literature review section of any document (manuscript, thesis, etc.). Therefore, if you read the original work carefully, try to understand the context, take good notes, and then express it to your target audience in your own language (without forgetting to cite the original source), then you will never be accused with plagiarism (at least for the literature review section).
Caution: The above statement is valid only for the literature review section of your document. You should NEVER EVER use someone else’s original results and pass them off as yours!
What strategies do you adopt to maintain content originality? What advice would you share with your peers? Please feel free to comment in the section below.
If you would like to know more about patchwriting, quoting, paraphrasing and more, read the next article in this series!
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