How to Avoid Plagiarism: A Student’s Perspective

In this article, a student at North Georgia Technical College explains how to avoid plagiarism, from her own perspective.

Paraphrasing is taking other persons’ ideas and reconstructing a sentence, while using synonyms to appear as though they are your own ideas. Paraphrasing is considered a form of plagiarism. As a whole, plagiarism is stealing other persons’ ideas and taking credit. When a person spends a great amount of time on a body of work and then another person copies said work, that is not only dishonest but reflects poorly on a person’s morals and values.

There are several ways to avoid plagiarism. When writing a research paper, you may use summarization and paraphrasing techniques, along with direct quotations. When choosing to use these methods while writing a paper, one must always be sure to properly cite the sources. These sources will provide information of where the person has obtained ideas and give credit where credit is due. There is citing done within the paper, which is know as in-text-citation, and references at the very end of the paper. The ending will have a collection of sources, such as bibliography, references, or works cited page. This truly depends on the formatting of the research paper.

When using the summarization technique while writing a research paper, a person is essentially reading the entirety of the source and condensing that information into their own words. This must always be properly cited at the end of the paper. The paraphrasing technique may consist of rearranging sentence structures and/or using many synonyms, while condensing that information. This should also include your own words but using the ideas from the source(s). All paraphrasing must always be properly cited. Using direct quotes from a source must, at all times, have in-text-citations. This will provide credit to the author(s) and prevent plagiarism. This will require the source of the information to be listed in the reference section at the very end of the paper as well.

Using your own words and ideas is very valued in the world. This is an example of uniqueness, which should be manifested in the paper. When writing and turning a research paper in, originality should be evident otherwise there is really no point to the paper. A person could simply go to the references and just read verbatim from the sources. If a person is unable to do so, there are appropriate measures to prevent plagiarism. While starting to write a research paper, there are many steps a person needs to take. I, personally, have my own method that I have reevaluated throughout my years of writing papers. When a topic for a research paper is assigned, I will make sure I am familiar with the idea and perform copious amounts of research beforehand. I call this my pre-research-research. Using library resources that schools have to offer and/or talking with a librarian can be very beneficial to the student. They are able to assist you and point you in the right direction. This will also help with narrowing down key words to search for while investigating a topic. My next step, which is common amongst other students, is to create an outline. In this outline, I like to use bullet points that represent major topics to cover and rearrange the order if need be. This helps me not to become so overwhelmed during the research and writing process. I will then go back to my provided resources through my school’s library and begin to look into those particular subjects on my outline. After I have gathered all my data, I will then begin to construct my research paper.

The method of free writing is useful to help avoid plagiarism. Here is when you are able to condense some of the information you have read from researched sources, along with having your own ideas placed into a research paper. This helps a person see what they have actually learned from the all the materials they have read. Of course, as always, while writing be sure to be documenting and citing those sources.
The most important features of a research paper are the introduction and conclusion paragraphs. Here in the introduction, is where you will have your thesis statement, which is the overall theme of the paper. Once you have completed the body paragraphs of the paper, the conclusion is to follow. There is where you will bring your thesis statement back and focus on how your research paper helps bring everything back together. Having taken many literature classes, my teachers over the years have made the importance of a thesis statement and to always cite your sources a focal point of their lessons.

Allotting enough time for assignments is very important. During the process of gathering information and performing the actual writing, it is imperative not to procrastinate. I feel this is a large part of when potential plagiarism can happen. Not allowing yourself enough time to perform all of the steps I have suggested in the previous paragraphs can lead to disorganization. Through this, you are bound for chaos. A person may not be able to find exactly where they read that certain information that inspired them to write a paper in the first place.

Therefore, they may not be able to find that source again or just all together forget to reference it. Procrastination may also lead to plagiarism when a person, who has had ample time, now purely chooses to copy and paste without citing. Most assignments are scheduled far in advance to not only give adequate time for a student to continuously work on a paper but to also allow the student time to ask questions if need be. Discussing assignments with teachers if you are unsure about a topic or asking for more direction is important. Most instructors are easily approachable and do not mind providing clarity if there is something that has been misunderstood. Also, if there is something detrimental that has happened in life, be sure to communicate that with your instructors. Everyone has busy lives and the universe is not always kind. Instructors understand this and are willing to work with students, but they have to be made aware. The only person holding you back is usually yourself. Humans cannot read minds and communication is key. Instructors are there to help you. Students need to have faith in their instructors and themselves.

Bringing it back to disorganization, keeping up with all your sources can seem overwhelming at times. Attempt to focus on scholarly, peer reviewed journals within an up to date time frame. While gathering data, also try to not have too many sources. It is best to consider finding solid pieces of trusted works to use in a research paper, versus many that only have a select portion of an idea you are writing about. Again, be sure to always keep up with the information you are obtaining from the sources and cite them appropriately.

There are many tools that are offered online to help a student avoid plagiarism that one can simply search for. Some are free resources and others do have a small fee. However, if one is so inclined to pay, they will have the confidence and feel safe about turning their paper in. Along with plagiarism checking tools, there are also certain websites that assist a person with citing sources accurately at the end of the research paper and helps with in-text-citations. Throughout the years of writing, these tools have not always been available or easily accessible. Technology is everchanging and it is our friend, so be sure to check these out. The mere fact that a person has all these tools at the tip of their fingers and would choose not to use them is baffling. I would encourage each and every person to utilize these tools. They can be life savers whenever in doubt you may be theoretically committing crime, considered plagiarism.

I cannot express how much of a learning experience this paper I am submitting has been in the realm of plagiarism. There were many concepts I did not fully understand, especially with the paraphrasing aspect. Using another person’s examples that have been provided for students to view in a college setting is considered academic dishonesty and plagiarism. I will now know to never do this again with any future work that lies ahead of me. I appreciate the grace the faculty has given students under these circumstances and I encourage everyone to do further research on this topic and assess and reassess anything they ever turn in or hand over to another person during their time at school or in everyday life. Doing so may help them realize that they may have looked over something too quickly and missed the opportunity to recognize the person(s) whose work they are using. Claiming their work as your own is completely unacceptable, irresponsible, and shows little to no veracity in a person.

In closing, there are many ways to avoid plagiarism that I have covered in this paper. Proper citation is of utmost importance to give credit and evade this. Also, having a balanced schedule and preparing ahead of time, taking these certain steps, will alleviate the procrastination process and lead to better outcomes of writing a research paper. This, in turn, will also help prevent plagiarism.


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