During my undergraduate years of pursuing a degree in English, I wrote more papers than I can count. In recognizing how complex and convoluted the world of paper writing can be, I know that one reason it is thus results from the fact that people are responsible for coming up with their own ideas. In an event where a person is believed to have substituted the ideas of another for their own, she or he could be accused of plagiarism and subsequently fail a course or even be expelled. In recognizing the severe ramifications that can result from being accused of plagiarism, it is advantageous for students to learn how to avoid it. Here are three tips that can help you avoid plagiarism:
1. Know What It Is.
In discussing how to avoid plagiarism, MIT’s Writing and Humanistic Studies notes that understanding what it is plays an integral role in not doing it. To define plagiarism, they note that it is “the use of someone else’s ideas or language without acknowledging that they were not created by you.” As they note, plagiarism can apply to things as diverse as ideas and words from books, emails, and webpages.
2. Be Idea Centered.
Although the phrase “idea centered” may sound complex, it isn’t. Being idea centered is simply about ensuring that the work you produce is predicated on the thoughts that you yourself come up with rather than concepts produced by others. This doesn’t mean that you don’t strengthen the arguments of your own paper by including references to things others have said about your topic. It simply means that your own thesis or argument is the “meat” of your work.
Whenever you include an idea of another person in your work, be sure that you use proper citations to acknowledge that the concept is not your own. This is especially important when you take a direct quote from another individual’s work. If you don’t know how to cite, the Purdue Online Writing Lab can offer you the assistance that you’ll need. You should also note that the concept of plagiarism is as applicable to the world of online writing as it is in other spheres. Thus when I write for my blogs (The Political Slant and Seven Atlanta), I always take pains to include an in-text link to the work of people whose ideas I reference when articulating my own thoughts.
Although the list above is certainly not exhaustive, it does provide you with several tips and tricks that can help you avoid plagiarism. Good luck!