How To Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism and all academic dishonesty should be avoided at all costs if your reputation matters to you.

Is it possible we have all been guilty of plagiarism at one time or another? You may not know you did it or you may not admit to doing it but at some point in our lives could it have happened? Even by accident? Think of all the essays, stories, songs or poems you may have written. Did you give credit where credit is due? Did you cite your sources or simply continue on? If you don’t give appropriate credit, you are stealing. Some people don’t think of plagiarism as stealing, but taking credit for someone else’s work is stealing. You are stealing their ideas, their thoughts and their views.

Plagiarism is wrong for a multitude of reasons; it robs original writers of the credit they deserve, it destroys credibility and reputations, puts your work at risk, and, in some cases, is even illegal. Plagiarism undermines your ability to show that you can do the work. When you commit plagiarism you don’t just harm the original author, you harm yourself. People who are shown to have committed plagiarism are commonly subject to damaged academic and professional credibility and reputations.

People will usually plagiarize because they find it easier to copy another person’s work than making their own. This might consist of copying-and-pasting, rewriting sentences to hide the copying, or using others’ ideas without giving them credit. People may plagiarise in hopes of doing well in a class that they are having difficulty in or to deal with a heavy or stressful workload. Plagiarism is seen as a viable option for people with such workloads because of how quickly an assignment can be completed by merely copying down another person’s work as their own, but when they get caught, they find themselves much worse off.

Plagiarism and all academic dishonesty should be avoided at all costs to avoid any consequences from it. A useful skill you need to master is paraphrasing–though paraphrasing alone isn’t enough to avoid the charge of plagiarism. Work from other writers can be taken and put “in your own words” in your work by taking key ideas and rephrasing it in your own writing. This usually consists of using different words or rearranging where sentences. This can remove the necessity of using quotation marks but this can still be seen as plagiarism if you do not credit the source of the ideas. To avoid plagiarism while paraphrasing it is important to identify what you are paraphrasing and where so that there is no attempt to mislead the reader and claim ideas as your own. Even taking small bits of sentences and rearranging them around in your work is still plagiarism. This is called “Patchwork plagiarism.” A good paraphrase is written in your own words while using quotation marks on any phrases or sentences that have been taken directly from the original source while citing your sources.

Plagiarism is when you take someone else’s work and pass it off as your own; however, it is acceptable to use another person’s work in your writing as long as you give the original writer credit for their work. This can be done in multiple ways. The most common way is citing your sources. This acknowledges that you are not being dishonest and ensures you are give crediting where it is due.. Citing the source can include naming the original author or providing detailed information about where you obtained the information. You can also consider using parenthetical references, footnotes and endnotes.

In an 8forty article, “Tips for creating an icon for beginners,” the writer takes information from another site and uses it on their own article using paraphrasing and citations. In the beginning of the article the writer mentions and gives credit to the writer whose work they paraphrased:

Carrie Cousins, an experienced web and graphic designer explains a few simpletips for creating a successful icon that is visually appealing and bound to catch anyone’s attention. When creating your own icon, keep these tips in mind!”

This tells readers where the information is coming from and credits the original writer. Keep in mind that not citing your source means you are trying to pass someone else’s work as your own and is dishonest. Citing your source eliminates that problem entirely by stating up front that the information is not yours. While the information is taken from another source, the 8forty article presents the information from another article in a new way for other readers who may have not seen the original writing.

There is no place for plagiarism. It is dishonest, cheating and stealing. With today’s technology it is easy to detect plagiarism and just as easy to avoid it. Information is literally at our fingertips. People need to be accountable for their work and acknowledge the work of others. If more and more people continue to plagiarize other people’s work we may actually miss out on some great work. You never know, a plagiarizer may actually have something brilliant to say but because they are too lazy to do their own work we will never know.

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