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9 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism When Writing Papers

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    9 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism When Writing Papers

    9 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism When Writing Papers

    While including outside sources and ideas helps improve the quality of your work, failing to give credit to others when you use their thoughts is considered plagiarism. Intentionally or accidentally claiming something as your own work when it isn’t can not only get you in trouble but also hinder your development as a writer and creator. Let’s look at how to avoid plagiarism so you can craft persuasive, honest work for school and beyond.

    1. Don’t Procrastinate

    Quality work takes time — if you’re racing to complete a project before a deadline, you might be more tempted to cut corners. Once you realize you don’t have as much time as you need, you’re less likely to write your best work. This can lead to research that isn’t thorough, and in the hurry to get work done, you might not cite your sources correctly. Giving yourself time to do everything will ensure you get your best work and citations down.

    Additionally, taking more time on something will help you do the most in-depth research and thoughtful work. While researching, you might discover you have an idea no one else has thought of. If you’re on a time crunch, you probably won’t be able to flesh that idea out — show off your skills and put out your best work by avoiding procrastination.

    2. Do Your Own Work

    The best way to prevent plagiarism is to do your own work. Using the information on the Internet or your friends’ work won’t help you grow. If you need help, ask your teacher for further guidance — they’ll help you find the inspiration without letting you take from existing work. Additionally, you’ll feel more rewarded when a project is entirely yours. Putting all your own talents and labor into a project helps you create something you can be proud of completing.

    3. Keep Track of Your Sources

    While diving deep into research can be fun, many students often lose track of their sources while working. They might not intend to plagiarize, but writing a direct quote or paraphrase without citation is still stealing. Ensure all your sources are correctly cited with careful notes and tracking. Make a special mark next to ideas or phrases that aren’t yours in your notes, and have the matching citations beside each one or clearly labeled on another sheet. Use quotes, page numbers, and highlighters to keep everything organized while working.

    4. Use Quotes

    Quotes are helpful for supporting your main point, but you always need to credit their source. They’re useful, but you want to deploy them with restraint. Your project should mostly be your work, your ideas — a project made mostly of quotes is less your thought and more of a complication of other people’s. Help your point with examples and quotes — always giving proper credit — but think of them as support instead of the main focus.

    Know How to Paraphrase

    5. Know How to Paraphrase

    Paraphrasing is a great way to show you understand someone else’s idea by explaining it in your own words. This reframing and restructuring demonstrates your writing skills and shows the reader you’re an expert on your topic. However, switching out a few words from someone else’s quote is not paraphrasing. For example:

    • Original: You should try the pastries and croissants when you visit Paris.
    • Not paraphrased: You should sample baked goods when you go to Paris.
    • Paraphrased: While exploring Paris, sample some of the famous fresh-baked croissants at local shops.

    You should keep the same main point when paraphrasing, but try to use your voice and words to create your own sentence. Like direct quotes, you must cite any paraphrasing in your work. While you’ve put your own spin on it, the main point still belongs to another writer who deserves credit for their work.

    6. Add Your Own Ideas

    While paraphrasing can be helpful for supporting your work, then you should be contributing something new with your project. Consider your opinions about the subject and how you can add a fresh perspective to the conversation. Try to put your own spin on the subject matter and bring your ideas and thoughts into the writing. Not only will this prevent you from plagiarizing, but it will show your teacher that you’re actively engaging with the subject and breaking down the material.

    7. Always Cite Sources

    Always cite your sources, no matter where you get the information from or how little of it you use. This is one of the most important tips for avoiding plagiarism. If you have to ask yourself, “Do I need to cite this?” The answer is probably, “Yes.” Don’t just cite direct quotes — you also need to cite any paraphrasing, ideas, images, graphs, and charts you use throughout the text. If it came from someone else, make a point to mention that. Citing your sources protects you from plagiarism and ensures everyone you referenced gets proper credit for their contributions.

    8. Try a Plagiarism Checker

    One of the great benefits of online learning is access to the Internet and all its resources. Online plagiarism checkers are excellent tools you can use to ensure your work is plagiarism-free. While you might not have purposefully put anyone else’s work into your project, you might have subconsciously absorbed some words or ideas from your research. A plagiarism checker will help you spot any potential red flags before you submit your work, ensuring your project is 100% your own.

    Some plagiarism checkers are free, while others require a paying account to access them. Ask your teacher for plagiarism checker suggestions — your class or school might pay for a plagiarism checker that you can use. Your local or school librarians could also have some great resources for you to use while working on an assignment.

    9. Talk to Your Teacher

    Different teachers will have their own requirements for each project. You might only be asked to cite some things if it’s a more informal assignment or if you’re working directly from a shorter piece. Talk to your teacher and have them review the assignment requirements with you. If they don’t mention sources at first, ask them what you’re expected to cite and how they want you to record your citations. They’ll tell you what the citation format should be so that you can adequately credit others in your project.

    Hone Your Writing Skills

    Hone Your Writing Skills

    CCA provides children with flexible, personalized learning for a brighter future. Our programs are created with the help of our teachers, parents, and students so that your child can receive an education tailored to their unique talents. We encourage curiosity and offer field trips, clubs, and social trips to promote collaboration and social growth. Not only do we strive to help your child succeed academically, but we provide them with essential foundational skills for success beyond the classroom.

    If you’re interested in enrolling your child in our program, learn more about CCA online today.


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