How Can One Avoid Plagiarism When Paraphrasing?

August 5th, 2020

Reading time about 13 min

Plagiarism is a problem in many professional areas, especially in the education sphere. It means using someone else’s words or ideas without properly crediting the original author. In other words, plagiarism equals stealing. Sometimes plagiarism is aforethought and conscious, but often it happens accidentally because of carelessness or forgetfulness.

Types of Plagiarism That You Should Be Aware Of 

If you have an assignment to write an essay, an article, or coursework and want to give the enemy a name and a face, take a look. As known, there are three main types of plagiarism.

Direct

The most common and brutal type. It includes simply copying information without changing anything and with no citation.

Paraphrasing Without Crediting

It means rewriting someone else’s work with your own words without mentioning the source. This type also involves mosaic plagiarism – changing keywords or paraphrasing in only some parts of the original information and without crediting the owner.

Misattribution

This type of plagiarism includes an intentional mentioning of the wrong source of the information. For example, Mr. X took a few paragraphs from the Z Journal, but when submitting his work mentioned the Y Journal as the source of those paragraphs. 

Most Common Reasons Why People Plagiarize

In most cases, people commit plagiarism unconsciously. Usually, it comes from the following reasons:

Procrastination

If one did not set his or her deadlines wisely, it often happens that a work must be finished in a very short period. Of course, if the work is quite massive, a student chooses the easier way – just to make a cocktail of stolen ideas and present them as his or her own. The other option is that a student cites and makes footnotes and forgets to add them after the assignment is completed. This also leads to accidental plagiarism. So, be attentive!

Incomplete Understanding of the Original Material

When writing an essay or another type of coursework, one often finds lots of scientific and difficult to understand sources. This often leads to blind copying, as one cannot retell the material with his own words or create his original idea based on it.

Incorrect Citation

Not knowing the basic rules of citation causes plagiarism too. For instance, mistakes in using quotation marks or an incorrect citation format will create problems in your written work.

Cheating at Universities

From time to time, students may present someone else’s works as their own. But is this tendency widespread in the world’s universities?

According to research conducted by The Times, universities in the U.K. are in the midst of a “plagiarism epidemic” – almost 50,000 students were caught cheating. However, this number might be even higher as the majority of plagiarism cases are likely undetected.

The research also showed that non-EU (European Union) students are more than four times likely to cheat in exams and coursework. They make up 30 percent of all cases.

As for the whole world, recent research rated 95 countries in plagiarism statistics. The leaders of this problematic phenomenon are South Korea, followed by Kuwait, and Israel on the top of the list. The most academically well-mannered countries are Slovenia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. 

Internet – the False Friend

Nowadays, the majority of students prefer searching the web rather than looking for the necessary information in libraries. Undoubtedly, it saves one’s time and provides plenty of modern articles and resources, but also increases the possibility of plagiarism (again, willingly or not).

There are hundreds of sites that offer academic essay services in return for a fee. Although those companies issue disclaimers warning against plagiarism, there are no guarantees that the ordered essays will be original and unique. Despite that, such services are legal and useful for organizations that need to give text feedback to their customers or require a well-written text for their site. 

Can You Steal From Yourself?

Yes, for sure. It is called “self-plagiarism” (also known as “reuse”, “recycling fraud”, or “duplicate publication”). It means reusing work that you have already published or submitted.

Common forms of self-plagiarism by students are:

  • Handing in the same paper to several classes;
  • Using sections or paragraphs from a previous work into a new one;
  • Reusing data or ideas from your bachelor’s thesis in your master’s thesis without citing the original work.

Self-plagiarism can occur not only among students but among professors as well.

Consequences of Plagiarism

Every university has an honor code that states the main rules, rights, and responsibilities regarding both students and teachers. Of course, plagiarism is mentioned there. It is forbidden and a punishable offense. At most universities, the consequences for a student range from an automatic zero, the course failure, disciplinary action, or possible suspension or expulsion. For academics, they are delayed or rejected publication and the risk of being deprived of a scientific degree.

How to Avoid Plagiarism in Your Work?

With no doubts, one’s academic essays, researches, or articles may (or even must) include some of the material written by others with the purpose of discussing, challenging, or supporting the ideas or confirming your idea. Moreover, it is often required to use at least three sources of information in a writing assignment. This is clearly distinguishable from plagiarism if some rules are followed. Which rules? Let’s take a look at some tips that help avoid plagiarism.

Cite the Source Correctly

To properly borrow words, add a citation in your writing that identifies the full name of the source, the date it was published, and any other citation element that is required.

Include Quotations

Quoting sources is simple. Just put quotation marks around the text to denote that the words aren’t your own and point the source or the author.

Paraphrase

It means rewriting one’s ideas in your own words. The best method is to read information attentively, then rewrite it in your own words. You will both understand it better and avoid stealing. In addition, finding synonyms will help you expand the vocabulary used.

Present Your Own Idea

Think of what you can say about your topic. Ask yourself what unique perspective or point you can contribute to your writing and reflect on real-life examples. This is exactly what you need to do – use your brain, talent, and experience to create something new. Perhaps your idea will be even better than an academic’s one!

Use a Plagiarism Checker

Before submitting your work, check it through an online plagiarism checker just to be sure you did everything properly and each borrowed idea is cited.

Conclusion

So, plagiarism is a serious offense regarding an original author, who puts his/her enthusiasm, talent, and creativity into the work. Stealing it, consciously or not, is insidious. To avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing, follow the rules mentioned above, and both your work and conscience will be clean.

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