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Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism. Most of us have encountered this word more than once and in different contexts. Students are familiar with this word better than anybody else. When you are given a writing assignment, you’ll most likely be warned that your essay will be checked for plagiarism. But what exactly is considered to be plagiarism and how can you avoid it? Let’s find out!

Definition of Plagiarism

The word “plagiarism” is of Latin origin and it stands for “kidnapper.” Thus, it is associated with such a serious crime as theft. Basically, plagiarism means using somebody else’s words or ideas without giving proper credit to their author. While some students think that stealing a couple of ideas just to accomplish their assignment is not a big deal, the academic community condemns plagiarism as one of the biggest offences ever. In college, punishments for plagiarism can vary from failing an assignment to being expelled.

There are three distinctive types of plagiarism:

  • Using other authors’ exact words without quoting them;
  • Using somebody else’s ideas without stating where those ideas actually came from;
  • Rewriting somebody’s work in such a way that it preserves its overall idea and structure.

Writing Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

  1. Create an outline

    Before you start writing your essay or research paper, create an outline of your future text. In the outline, indicate which ideas are your own and which of them you borrowed from some sources. Don’t forget to state the exact source each idea came from. Later, it will help you to avoid accidental plagiarism which occurs when you simply forget to mention information’s author.

  2. Familiarize yourself with your school’s plagiarism policy and citing requirements

    Make sure that you know which consequences you might face if you are caught plagiarizing in your college. It will definitely help you to be careful with borrowing information from other sources. Also, you must know what are citing requirements in your school since the formats can vary from college to college. You can ask your professor for guidelines.

  3. Be original

    Of course, including information to your piece of writing from other sources is inevitable in most of the cases. However, you must remember, that your essay or research paper cannot merely consist of other people’s ideas. When you’ve written your work, read it to yourself in order to make sure that some actual ideas of your own are present there.

To conclude, keep in mind that plagiarism is not as inoffensive as it may seem at first. Even if your work will be read by your college professor only and you won’t make any profit by stealing other people ideas, you still should understand that breaching one’s intellectual property right is wrong.

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