How to Avoid Plagiarism When Writing Essays and Papers


How to Avoid Plagiarism When Writing Essays and PapersFrom high school, academic essays and papers get assessed for plagiarism. As a result, most students worry about getting around plagiarism detection. But is it possible to write a paper without plagiarism? Is it even possible to write an essay that passes all the plagiarism detectors if assessed? Find out the answers to these pertinent questions and other issues about plagiarism and academic writing in this exhaustive guide on avoiding plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism?

As per Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, plagiarizing means stealing and passing off the ideas as well as words of others as your own or using the creation or production of another person without giving them credit. It also encompasses the stealing and presenting as new or original ideas or products from existing sources. It can also be referred to as literary theft.

Plagiarism can include copying, quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing a given source without citing or crediting it. You can also plagiarize when you submit another person’s work as your own. Purchasing or downloading a paper online and presenting it as your own or using a previously assessed and graded paper is also considered plagiarism.

Whether you plagiarize intentionally or accidentally, plagiarism is considered a violation of the academic integrity and honor codes of institutions of higher learning.

How much plagiarism is allowed?

This is one of the common questions that many students are fond of asking. When you ask your lecturer/professor/instructor the amount of plagiarism permitted, you will get an instant answer that zero plagiarism is allowed. Many students feel that writing a paper with zero plagiarism is not possible. However, this is an easy task when you paraphrase, summarize, and rephrase well. Your lecturers expect you to demonstrate your skills and form individual opinions on a particular topic.

Copying somebody’s work can disappoint your instructors because it violates the copyright. To avoid this, you can express somebody’s ideas in your own words without using them directly the way it is. And when you do so, you have to cite their work to credit them as should. Moreover, you can use a quotation as one of the techniques of preventing plagiarism. However, you should note that quotations in your research paper should not exceed 20%.

Consequences of Plagiarism

If you are fond of using other people’s ideas or words without crediting them, you have been committing plagiarism. Although different institutions resort to different punitive measures against plagiarism depending on the type of plagiarism (global, verbatim, paraphrasing, patchwork, and self-plagiarism.), here are some consequences to expect both in academia and professional realms:

  • Lowered grade or getting a zero score
  • Expulsion or academic probation
  • Disciplinary action (facing the academic integrity board)
  • Failing grades in a course
  • Retraction from published works
  • You lose your tenure-track status
  • You can be banned from contributing to journals
  • You will never find sponsors to fund your research activities
  • Retakes for the entire course
  • Suspension from the university

Although there are several short-term or immediate consequences, the long-term repercussions are far much critical as they can affect your professional reputation and negatively impact your career.

There are also legal and financial consequences attached to plagiarism. So, whichever the case, learning how to avoid plagiarism altogether is the remedy to very many aspects of your academic and professional life.

28 Ways to write a paper that is free of plagiarism

In general, you can avoid plagiarism when writing a paper by tracking all the sources you consult as you research and write; paraphrasing, quoting, rephrasing, summarizing from your sources as you add your ideas; crediting the original authors through in-text citations and reference list or bibliography, and assessing the amount of plagiarism and editing before submitting your work.

Even with this knowledge, many students find it challenging to write a paper free of plagiarism. Typically, they do not know how to paraphrase, summarize, or quote well.

Equally, they are not aware of other helpful hints and hacks that could help them produce a plagiarism-free paper.

The following hacks can help you write a paper free from plagiarism.

1. Paraphrase

Paraphrasing means expressing somebody’s main ideas in your words. There are many paraphrasing tools online that can help you in preventing plagiarism. However, doing it yourself is better for you to maintain the context, coherence, clarity, and continuity of ideas in your text. We insist on avoiding tools because most of them only help you get a suitable synonym that assists in changing the text while preserving its meaning. You should analyze the sentence thoroughly and rewrite the text in a unique way that has not been used before, which is why paraphrasing alone is better than using a paraphrasing tool.

2. Apply quotation marks

Sometimes doing away with certain sentences may change the meaning of the idea expressed. To avoid this, you can use quotation marks and cite where you have lifted the words. This is a reliable method of utilizing somebody’s thoughts directly without changing meaning. Before quoting, ensure you know all the citation rules. Moreover, you should note that quotation is restricted and should only form 20% of your paper.

3. Create a reference list in your paper

Making a list of all the sources used in your paper is one of the ways of avoiding plagiarism. When writing your paper, you use different ideas from different sources. Therefore, you should provide a list of the sources to prove to your teacher that you derived ideas from well-known experts to support your points.

4. Cite your sources properly

When you paraphrase or quote an idea from a certain source, you should ensure you include an in-text citation that indicates where the idea was derived from. Footnote citation and in-text citation are fundamental in the identification of the author.

In addition, each citation should respond to the reference provided in a bibliography or reference list. Citation is significant in acknowledging the origin of the information, assists your audience in locating the sources at their wish, and helps in preventing plagiarism.

As you cite the sources, ensure that each source you referred to is well-acknowledged through in-text citations. Many students have faced the penalty of plagiarism because they could not cite all the sources they used in the paper.

Failing to cite even a single source will make the idea sound like your own thought, which results in plagiarism. Consequently, you should record all the sources that you use and cite them effectively to distinguish between your ideas and other authors’ ideas that support your opinions.

There are different citation styles with distinctive rules; the common styles include MLA, Chicago, and APA. You will use a specific style based on your instructors’ rules concerning the assigned paper. An important aspect is to use the style consistently in your paper

5. Keep a record of your sources

Many students commit plagiarism by forgetting the source where they retrieved the idea. This makes the idea to be considered as their own. You can eliminate this issue by organizing your notes and compiling a citations list as you proceed. There are many citation management tools online, such as Zotero, Citefast, or citethisforme.

Clearly indicate your thoughts and derived thoughts, highlight sentences requiring citations, and properly mark any statement copied from the source using quotation marks.

6. Use plagiarism tools

Plagiarism tools or plagiarism checkers are used to detect any form of plagiarism in your paper. Most universities apply these tools to check any form of plagiarism in students’ papers. Plagiarism checkers scan the paper compare it to publication and webpages databases that seem similar to other papers.

It would help if you considered applying a plagiarism checker before submitting the final paper as a student. A plagiarism checker will help you identify possible accidental plagiarism cases, including forgotten quotation marks, similar paraphrased material, and misplaced citations. Therefore, you can fix the potential areas of plagiarism.

7. Do in-depth research to comprehend the paper

It is vital to check all phrases and unknown words before you begin writing to ensure you apply another author’s research in the best manner.

Understanding the scope of your paper can help you avoid plagiarism by incorporating ideas from other sources. You will also be able to frame your claims and arguments better without directly using the words from the sources you are referring to when writing.

8. Summarizing

Summarizing refers to retrieving major points and key ideas from a source. It may involve summarizing the whole book or article, paragraph, or section. When summarizing, you should note the following: Identify significant points in the text; you need to paraphrase or quote. Summarizing plays a great role in avoiding plagiarism.

To avoid plagiarism in your work, you can seek help from a custom writer. Submitting custom work done for you, which you have further edited and worked on, is not plagiarism because the work is written by a different person and is not similar to any work. Besides, a custom paper is original, comprises no plagiarism, and is ideally untraceable.

In any case, they indicate zero plagiarism when passed through a plagiarism checker. When you are not sure how to avoid plagiarism, you can consult professionals instead of violating copyright regulations.

9. Plan your paper

Planning forms an integral part of writing a paper free from plagiarism. Planning involves writing an outline and the information you will utilize in your research. Proper gathering of the background information is vital in ensuring your paper is free from plagiarism.

It would help if you planned how to apply the information to support your points without copying. For example, creating an outline or deriving a thesis statement is significant in developing the boundaries between your ideas and the ideas you retrieve from other sources.

10. Research and organize your sources

Conducting research and organizing your sources can help you avoid plagiarism in several ways. First, it assists you in finding sources related to your topic, keeping track of the relevant sources, and ensuring that you use credible scholarly sources.

11. Find sources related to your topic

Getting sources that support your topic is critical in fortifying your thoughts with concrete facts, examples, evidence, and figures from experts in the same discipline. The references will provide you with diverse ideas that support your position in your paper. Sometimes students find it challenging to get sources related to their topic, especially when the assigned topic is broad. In this case, you can narrow down the topic to focus on a specific area. This will assist you in obtaining sources that are related to the specific topic hence making your task easier.

12. Keep track of relevant sources

Failing to keep track of the relevant sources you have identified can make the derived ideas sound like your own thoughts. In this manner, your work will be exposed to plagiarism. Therefore, you should ensure that you record all the relevant sources you use in your research because they will also be provided in full in the reference list at the emend of your work.

13. Ensure you use credible scholarly sources

Students sometimes find it cumbersome to find credible scholarly sources; hence, they rely on web pages. However, credible scholarly sources are important in providing concrete evidence that supports your views.

You can get scholarly sources from your institution’s library or online libraries such as google scholar. Supporting your perspectives with scholarly journals, books or articles is significant in avoiding plagiarism. Using information from incredible sources can be misleading. It can result in plagiarism because tracing the author may be a challenge.

This can result in a violation of copyright rules. Additionally, using scholarly sources validates your thoughts and ideas in your paper. Finally, credible scholarly sources are easy to cite because the authors and the date of publications are appropriately defined.

14. Quote, paraphrase, and summarize appropriately

As discussed earlier in this guide, quotation, paraphrasing, and summarizing are some techniques that can help you avoid plagiarism. However, it is essential to note that inappropriate quotes, paraphrasing, and summary can be plagiarism.

To write a paper free from plagiarism, you should understand how to apply quotations in your paper. The appropriate quotation is followed with a citation that reveals the source where the idea is retrieved.

Employing proper paraphrasing is critical in ensuring that your paper is free from plagiarism. As mentioned early, paraphrasing can assist you in using somebody’s idea in your own words. In addition, the ideas derived from another source are significant in supporting your thoughts.

Summarizing is another technique that is used to curb plagiarism. As a student, it is advisable to apply the above techniques to ensure that your paper is not plagiarized.

15. Avoid Faking or Fixing Sources

Faking or fixing sources can lead to plagiarism. Therefore, you should not fake or fix any source in your paper. Stating your sources is vital in demonstrating your academic integrity.

Faking or fixing sources is inappropriate because it undermines academic integrity leading to plagiarism.

A plagiarism checker compares your work with a similar database and can detect plagiarism when you fake or fix your source.

When you have problems identifying credible sources, you can consult your course instructor for help rather than faking or fixing sources that can result in plagiarism.

16. Do not use parts of or entire work you submitted before

Your previous work may have passed through the plagiarism checker. Once a work has been passed through a plagiarism checker, you cannot use it directly.

It would help if you paraphrased the ideas in your previous work to make them unique without changing the meaning. Using part or entire work you submitted previously will result in plagiarism.

Many students think that using submitted papers will not be plagiarism when they reuse the paper. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Once a paper has been submitted, your instructor passes it through the plagiarism checker. If it shows that you have used a section from the previously submitted paper, you will be accused of plagiarism. Therefore, using the paper directly without paraphrasing will lead to self-plagiarism.

17. Check your work for plagiarism before submitting

As discussed before in this guide, checking plagiarism before submitting your work will ensure you deliver a plagiarism-free paper.

Routinely passing the paper through a plagiarism checker will assist you in detecting plagiarism in your paper and correcting them before your submission.

Before submitting your paper, ensure you passed the paper in plagiarism checker to determine the areas that need to be fixed to ascertain a zero-plagiarism paper. When you assess your paper for plagiarism before submitting it, you address the issues that otherwise could lead to accidental plagiarism, such as missing quotation marks, misplaced in-text citations, and poorly paraphrased sections.

18. Give your assignment sufficient time

Most students produce plagiarized work because they have insufficient time. Lack of enough time pushes them to rush to meet the deadline leading to unintentional plagiarism caused by copying. You should not fall into this temptation because it can expose you to plagiarism.

You should commence your assignment early and plan how to complete the paper in time to get out of this problem. You should set your guidelines at every stage as a way of giving yourself sufficient time to complete your work.

19.  Provide a citation when in doubt

There are several kinds of information that are termed common knowledge. This information does not need a citation when incorporated into your paper. These facts are common and are found in many sources. They include historical information scientific facts.

Sometimes you may not know whether the information you include in your paper is common knowledge. Consequently, you should use a citation in your paper when you are unsure.

You can consult your lecturer to confirm whether something can be termed as common knowledge.

20. Avoid overusing material retrieved from other sources

Assignments are based on your ideas, interpretations, and ability to analyze information. You should apply relevant sources that support your thoughts.

However, overusing material from other sources can make the paper appear to like being pasted from diverse authors hence lacking cohesiveness. Therefore, such papers may be at higher risk of plagiarism. As a writer, it is advisable to balance the use of sources.

You can use sufficient facts derived from credible sources to justify your points. However, you should make sure the ideas conform with your individual thoughts.

21. Document everything

In many cases, plagiarisms are an unintentional issue that results from inappropriate documentation. For example, a student may forget to write an idea and forget to document the book or journal where they draw the idea. Good research habits are fundamental in curbing this kind of plagiarism.

Adopting good documentation tips such as printing, scanning, or photocopying of the relevant pages of each source you use is critical in avoiding this error. Then, when you are taking notes, you can list bibliographic data for every applied source.

Ensure you use quotations where possible and paraphrase the sources into your words appropriately. Documentation of the information, ideas, and quotations forms a critical stage in curbing plagiarism.

22. Read widely to increase your vocabulary

Exploring a variety of books and journals is vital in increasing your knowledge in vocabulary sentence construction that are significant in paraphrasing. Unfortunately, many students feel that they waste a lot of time reading various topics.

However, this is not the case. Reading a variety of writings provides you with vocabulary that can help you express your ideas effectively.

Students who master vocabulary find it easy to paraphrase because they understand synonyms.

23. Comprehend your sources

Before you commence writing, ensure you are familiar with all the sources you will utilize in your paper.

Your notes can be one of your sources but make sure to use your word to paraphrase the content.

Getting familiar with the tone and phrases of your sources will assist you in maintaining your unique tone when writing. This will help you to avoid using the original wording accidentally

24. Quote and paraphrase correctly

When you are using a passage, sentence, or particular phrase directly from the source. You should use quotation marks to indicate that it is a quote. However, you should not use too many quotes in your paper. Ensure you use the quotes sparingly.

Some lecturers will indicate the number of quotes that can be utilized in a particular paper. However, when not specified, you can consult your instructor for specifications. Quoting correctly is crucial in ensuring a free plagiarized paper.

Correct paraphrasing involves reading and noting the original idea and developing a new piece in your interpretations and insights of the initial information. When you are unsure whether you have paraphrased properly, you can compare your writing with the original material to ensure the message is unique while the idea remains the same. You should ensure you cite all sources that you paraphrased correctly.

25. Don’t forget the reference page

Provision of a reference page is the easiest way of getting yourself out of plagiarism. It is necessary to record all the sources you use in writing your paper. Keeping the record will assist you in producing the reference list or bibliography at the end of your paper.

Moreover, the reference page will also help you create your in-text citation and guard against missing sources.

26. Proofread your paper thoroughly

Proofreading is one of the steps you should undertake after writing your paper. Proofreading plays a role in curbing plagiarism because it allows you to change the structure of your sentences and compare it with your source.

It does not take much time to pass through your paper to make sure it is cited correctly. This is one of the easiest hints, and it has been proved to yield good results.

27. Add value to your paper

You should not get worried about the information you gather from your sources. Instead, you should add value to the topic by including your thoughts. Typically, this increases your chances of scoring higher grades. In addition, it demonstrates that you comprehend what you are discussing.

You can add value to your writing through extensive research. Adding value will give you a chance to blend the ideas from the source with your thoughts, thus making the paper unique and free from plagiarism

28. Be committed to doing your work individually

Many students fall into committing plagiarism because they rely on already conducted work.

When you become committed to doing your work, you can easily express your thoughts when writing your paper.

Moreover, you will be in a better position to support your views with other sources without copying.

Final Remarks

Whether accidental or intentional, plagiarism violates the honor code for various universities and could lead to severe consequences. Ask yourself whether your paper has credited the authors you referred from, whether ideas from other texts/resources inspired you, and whether you have carefully paraphrased, quoted, summarized, and then cited these sources. If the answer is NO, the chances are that your paper will be plagiarized.

Don’t submit another person’s work as your own to avoid plagiarism. Also, do not purchase and download a paper and submit it as your own. If you buy an essay online, use it as a model paper to get the inspiration, be sure to use it as a model paper to write your own paper. Alternatively, revise the paper well and customize it to your needs. Finally, give credit when copying, paraphrasing, summarizing and quoting from any source.

Bottom line: Always give credit when writing a paper and reading from a source. As you settle to write your paper, we wish you luck. If you need help, do not hesitate to contact us.