Students: Top 10 strategies to avoid plagiarism

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Students: Top 10 strategies to avoid plagiarism

1. Never use words written by friends or passages from books as your own. Your friends and others have worked through their ideas on their own. It’s hard work. Don’t steal their hard work. That’s not fair.

2. Always include references for direct quoting, for paraphrasing, and for summarizing. All three strategies are useful in research paper writing. But you must always give credit where credit is due. Keep track of ALL your sources. You might photocopy your source material so that you don’t have to go back to the library or look for work online again.

3. Always quote and reference a key word that isn’t commonly found in other resources. And when you use three or more successive words from any source, quote and reference the quote too. Otherwise, you are intentionally plagiarizing by passing off others’ work as your own.

4. Never just substitute your words for someone else’s words and call it your work. It’s the thinking behind the ideas that you need to experience, not the practice at using a thesaurus.

5. Never use the syntax and organization of ideas in an article as if you came up with the form. It takes a lot to come up with a persuasive argument or structure of an essay. If you borrow that structure without referencing it, you are stealing.

6. Never plagiarize yourself. You can refer to papers you have previously written or published. You can even quote yourself. But never copy/paste previous writing and present it as if it’s new. To do so is to deceive your instructors.

7. Never buy or copy a paper or section of a paper from the Internet. Teachers read thousands of drafts every semester. Besides: you’re at school to learn rather than just to produce a product.

8. Always take accurate notes. Include quotation marks, include complete bibliographic references, include page numbers, and point out to yourself if you are paraphrasing or summarizing. The idea with note taking is to save you time later. The content should be content you might use. But you can’t use it without plagiarizing if you can’t correctly reference it. You might consider creating an annotated bibliography or keeping a list of URLs so that you can go back to them later if needed.

9. Always plan your time. Writing takes time, especially if it involves research. Good note taking takes time. If you procrastinate, then you give yourself less time and make plagiarism appear to be a viable option. It is never an option. Don’t procrastinate.

10. Always make writing personally meaningful. Even if the topic seems mundane, there is a way to make it meaningful to you. If you think through what makes the topic meaningful, you will not want to steal other people’s ideas. This will take time. But you will want to learn more and come up with your own ideas.

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