How and Why to Avoid Plagiarism

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Plagiarism is an issue which has been haunting the writing industry from the time it evolved into a profession. But in earlier days there was not much awareness about the issue. There were not many methods available either, to detect this crime or confirm it. But in today’s world, there are strong laws against it and the punishments are rather severe. And unfortunately, even unintentional or accidental plagiarism is considered punishable.

This issue has been noticed, most commonly, among students. If you dig till its root, you will find that there are many underlying causes which lead to deliberate or intentional plagiarism in students. Most students, when faced with academic writing assignments, feel unsure about their own writing skills and adapt to copying and pasting information from web sources or books. Some others simply find it an easy job to copy and paste rather than doing it themselves. And there are also those, who keep their assignments till the last minute and realize that they have time for nothing but to copy and paste from articles written by others.

Internet has aided plagiarism to a big extent. Most students take it for granted that, among so much information one or two stolen paragraphs will go unnoticed. What they don’t realize is that there are methods of detecting even traces of plagiarism.

There is also unintentional plagiarism, where you forget to cite a source or miss out on citing one particular part of information you took from a source. Unfortunately, even this comes in the list of clauses which define plagiarism. Hence you have absolutely no excuses to give, if you are accused of it.

The only way to stop yourself from committing deliberate plagiarism is to be aware of the consequences. Considering the strict laws against it, it will not be worth it for you to resort to it. Awareness of the consequences is the only thing that can motivate you to stay clear of it.

And, to avoid accidental plagiarism, it is very important to note the sources, as and when you copy a paragraph or a quotation. If you keep it for later, it is quite possible that you accidentally leave it out and end up getting accused of plagiarism. Make sure that you don’t leave your writing assignment to be done at the last minute. If you try to do it the night before it is due, it is possible that you forget to cite all the sources. There are many methods to cite the source. Each of the writing styles like MLA, APA, Harvard style and Chicago style have their own rules on how to go about it.

When given an assignment, check the guidelines for the style asked for and go through the style guide to see how you are supposed to cite the sources. If you start noting the sources from the time of research, you need not miss out on any of them while preparing the final draft. Whether the source is internet or journals or magazines, it should all be mentioned wherever it is quoted.

There are many methods of detecting plagiarism and there are programs which offer to check documents for it. It is always safe to run your research papers and other academic writing assignments through one of those, to make sure that you haven’t missed out on any sources to be cited.

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