How to avoid plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a significant issue. So much in some countries even, that one in three academic essays, thesis or published articles are plagiarised. We are not talking about just accidental plagiarism either. Countries like Russia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Belarus or India have significantly higher plagiarism occurrences than Germany, Canada, Austria or the UK for example (data is taken from Oxsic’s live plagiarism map).

Live plagiarism map

Strategies to avoid plagiarism

In this article, we will guide you about the strategies on how to avoid plagiarism. In our opinion, the strategy will depend on the type of plagiarism you are dealing with. We will also take time into account: are you just at the beginning of your paper? Or at the end already? The strategies will heavily depend on it.

There are also two universal principles to take into account:

<ul> <li>Use other material only to support your thoughts</li> <li>Quote and cite as soon as the source material is used</li></ul>

Types of plagiarism

There are five general types of plagiarism:

  • Idea plagiarism
  • Copy-paste plagiarism
  • Improper reference plagiarism
  • Paraphrase plagiarism
  • Translation plagiarism

Why there are 5 types of plagiarism and how we distinguish them you might want to read in our related article. We will use these types to define strategies for the avoidance of plagiarism in your papers. 

Possible strategies to avoid plagiarism

Type of plagiarismStrategy at beginningStrategy before submission
Idea plagiarismRethinkRethink
Copy-paste plagiarismLimited usageRestructure. Limited usage
Improper reference plagiarismImmediate referencingUsing the plagiarism checker
Paraphrase plagiarismLimited usageRestructure. Limited usage
Translation plagiarismLimited usageRewrite the paper

Rethinking

This is the main strategy when you are dealing with the idea plagiarism. It is easy to deal with idea plagiarism before starting to write a paper. You may wish to think if is it possible to analyze the idea from a different perspective. This is the way how science works.

It may be some more complicated to rethink the idea when the paper is written. In this case, try to rethink goals and conclusions.

Limited usage

Limited usage means using quotes only to support your own thoughts. Leave only small 1-2 sentence-wide quotes to support your thoughts. Be sure not to use more borrowed text than yours.

Restructure

Restructure means changing the text on larger scale. This strategy might require you to rethink different parts of your text. Restructuring is a time-intensive strategy so be aware if you have tight deadlines.

Immediate referencing

When writing papers, we often focus on the content rather than on referencing. Such technique might leave you with a dozen unreferenced quotes. To avoid this, try making a reference as soon as the quote is used. This will greatly reduce your chances to forget referencing the author.

Using the plagiarism checker

The plagiarism checker will show you all the similarities with the sources to them. If you forgot to add some of the references, you are able to screen your paper against a plagiarism checker and use the report to properly cite unreferenced quotes.

Overall tips

Firstly – “Do it yourself” principle

The outright solution to the topic can be easily guessed – there is no easier or simpler way to avoid plagiarism other than writing and doing the writing yourself. Of course, due to various reasons this could not always be possible. In that case, certain situations can occur where also additional measures must be taken. With that being said, make sure to trim it down to only to the very rarest of occasions.

As told in the beginning of this post, the total quantity of 1/3 essays/thesis/articles that are plagiarised certainly does not amount to the rarest of occasions and smallest percentages.

Two – be aware when buying content

If you are not dealing with an in-house writer and buying text writing services from a freelancer, you have to check their writing. There are new complaints filed by people every day. They order writing and content creation services. Delivery of the order is made; clients proceed with the payment, and after a few hours or days the truth comes out. What they paid for is actually plagiarised content of no actual value at all.

To prevent that, you have to find a trustworthy and transparent writer, first of all. Collaborating with freelancers is very cost-efficient, but it can have its difficulties, also. There is computer software which, based on input keywords, generates text. Those texts are on the brink of being an unreadable SEO keyword mash. Primarily if delivered in bundles, some dishonest creators might try to slip you such content. Be aware and check everything.

Using the services of content writing is not only risking from a financial standpoint, but it is becoming even more riskier now if educational institutions will have their full attention turned towards such services.

Three – help is necessary

Without the proper tools, even the best in their respective regards can fail. Plagiarism avoidance is no exception. You can be a representative of a very accomplished and successful company, but if there are not any tools to help you out, the end result might be dissatisfying.

Such results might even dissuade you or your organization from further plagiarism checking. That would be a critical mistake. Make no mistake about it, plagiarism checking and detection software are vital to publishers, content creators, students and academic institutions altogether. Without them, the world of science, business and publishing might fall into disarray. Although it probably would be kept away from public attention as there are no reported cases on this.

Choose the proper tools to help you in your quest against plagiarism. Oxsic, the Oxford Similarity Checker is amongst the top tools for individual writers seeking to up their game in producing original content.

Tips on how to write

Do not forget to quote (accurately)

Academic writing usually requires a lot of research and using someone else’s thoughts, ideas or thesis for your own work. Quoting is the primary way of benefiting and strengthening your paper from the writing of others. However, quoting has to be done correctly to bring benefits. If you happen to misquote or do it improperly, your paper itself could fall under the concern of plagiarism.

Ibidem = is used when the quoted book / author is the same as one quoted on the same page

Op. Cit. = is used when the quoted book / author is the same as the one mentioned on a previous page.

Another drawback of quoting is if a document happens to have too much of other authors thoughts quoted. It is universally recommended not to quote more than 5 sentences in a row. Otherwise, even if plagiarism won’t be an issue, the document academically will be considered a low-value.

The University of Wisconsin has a strong article on writing to avoid plagiarism. These involve proper methods of using quotation marks and where or how to use quotes, in general. They should support your statements, ideas and content.

Rewriting – meh

A popular method of trying to make any content original is by rewriting something else, something that has been already written. However, rewriting will not produce original content. It instead just emphasizes your take and your thoughts on a specific issue. It could seem fine, but rewriting fits best if it acts as a supporting tool rather than the base and core of your work.

All in all, rewriting is not the best method for making plagiarism-free content. It can be used in spurts or individual paragraphs, but avoid rewriting much, if possible.

Besides, more advanced plagiarism detectors can spot paraphrasing without too much trouble. Again, use it in certain places to add clarity or explain something through your writing but do not base the entire paper on paraphrasing if you want to get real and sustainable value out of it.

Example of paraphrasing

Original contentPlagiarized content
However, to impose sanctions, plagiarism needs to be detected. Strategies faculty members use to detect plagiarism include carefully reading students work and making note of inconsistencies in student writing, citation errors and providing plagiarism prevention education to students. It has been found that a significant share of (university) teachers do not use detection methods such as using text-matching software. However,   for the imposition of   sanctions, plagiarism needs to be detected. Strategies   that   faculty members use to detect plagiarism include carefully reading   students’ papers and marking   inconsistencies in student writing, citation errors and providing plagiarism prevention education to students. It has been found that a significant share of (university) teachers   are not using any   detection methods such as using text-matching software. 

Source of the text: Wikipedia

However, it is possible to say the same thing multiple ways without plagiarizing others work. A person needs to have a complete understanding of the material they read and the ability to take what they read and present the information in their own thoughts and style.

Give your take and ideas

Fresh sets of ideas and thoughts are always welcome. If you manage to create original content, divulge and dissect problems through your prism – the paper will be immensely more enjoyable. Something new is the definition of an original and the opposite or antonym of plagiarism. Thus, giving your own ideas, analyzing problems and taking things on from your POV is beneficial for writing. It also helps avoid plagiarism in a big way.

Share insights

Adding to giving takes ideas, sharing insights is another excellent way of making content more original. This tip is closely related to the “Give your take and ideas”. However, whereas the previous point would accentuate giving your own views on past problems, their roots, origins and how serious things seem to you. Insights are focused more on the development of these issues, how to solve them. If you not only discuss current or past problems in your text but also share how to defuse or tackle them – writing gains so much value it is hard to neglect such an opportunity.

Translating does not make it an original

Oxsic can recognize and detect more than 100 different languages. If you are a multilingual writer and take someone’s work in French, translate it and paraphrase it to English or Spanish, Oxsic will be able to catch on. Translating a piece and calling it your own is not going to do any good for anyone. Try doing things creatively.

This data about the most and least plagiarising countries, however, only shows trends and the most extreme distances from the average. In everyday business or academic life, plagiarism can be lurking just around the corner, no matter your nationality, background or current location. We already wrote and strongly encourage you to read about the types of plagiarism here. Continuing the tradition of our anti-plagiarism article series we drew this informative guide which is dedicated on how to avoid and prevent plagiarism from seeing the light of day.