We’ve all been there, trying to finish our college assignments last second and running around trying to get help. Whether you ask for a friend’s homework or check some online resources, you definitely have been warned about plagiarism. Plagiarism is, simply put, “literary theft,” in which someone steals another person’s work. Hence, it indicates that the content isn’t originally yours.
When writing an essay for your college course or a research paper, things get incredibly complicated. Numerous students make the mistake of accidentally copying an online source word-by-word. That act could lead to disastrous consequences, including a warning from your college or potentially a suspension.
Hence, in this article, we discuss the various quick methods you could use to avoid any plagiarism mistakes when writing an essay. Making your piece of writing unique is not difficult, but it could be time-consuming. We will break it down to make your life a tad bit easier.
1. You can check your essay for plagiarism online
Let’s assume your professor has asked you to write an essay for a course, and you’re aware that it must be completely unique. Now, depending on the system, the accepted similarity percentage can be anywhere from 0%-50%. You should always check in with your professor beforehand to be cautious and avoid plagiarism. After writing your paper, you use verified sources to check essay for plagiarism and provide accurate results and suggestions. It looks for similarities, but it is also a grammar checker for essays. Hence, you’ll find all the services a student needs for college to address your writing needs.
What exactly is plagiarism? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it’s known as: “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source.” While you might think the word “steal” is an exaggeration, it really isn’t.
Using someone else’s literary work is just like stealing something tangible from them. You’re taking credit for writing you didn’t do yourself.
2. When in doubt, ask someone
Ask your professor about it before the deadline if you’re doubting your citing skills or your overall paper. It’s better to be safe than sorry in such scenarios. However, we don’t recommend asking another friend of yours, as they might be falling into the same culprit. The only way to be safe is to be 100% sure. Hence, be aware of your citation style, references at the article’s end, and your in-text situation.
3. Don’t use your old material
While most students might not know this, you cannot use your old material from that course or any other course. However, if you feel the need to use it, you should cite it. That’s why you should ask your professor for permission if you’re using old writing pieces. However, we generally recommend rephrasing old material or changing the whole thing. That’s the only way you can avoid any plagiarism or suspicion arising.
4. Cite all of your sources
This might be an obvious suggestion, but most college students often neglect one or two references. That usually happens when you’re running on a short time frame and accidentally write something word for word. Hence, if you’re writing a more analytical paper with a lot of history and data, make sure every number and fact is referenced. You’ll possibly face some reduction in your scores without the correct referencing. The online plagiarism checker often helps you by showing you where you used the references, as it points out the similarities in your paper.
You can use three primary citation styles at the end of your paper. These are:
- Chicago Style: for business, fine arts, and history essays
- Modern Language Association (MLA): humanities
- American Psychological Association (APA): sciences, education, and psychology
5. Avoid asking people for their essays
A study back in 2012 showed that approximately 25% of academics have plagiarised in their papers. This is a staggeringly high number. That number gets even worse when considering college students. Take this scenario as an example. You’re working on an essay for a history course, but you decide to ask your friend for help. That friend sends you their paper, and you either paraphrase some sentences or copy them word for word. If your college uses an online submission platform, they also have a college plagiarism checker integrated.
While you might be doing it with the purest intentions, things can get messy quickly. That’s why we recommend you avoid asking your friends for their papers. You can simply ask if they’re willing to explain some topics to you, and you can work on writing them from your own point of view.
6. Don’t buy an article online
This has been done before, and there will still be multiple students who fall into the same pit. It seems harmless to ask someone else to write an essay for you and pay them for it, right? But the problem is, if that person posts it online somewhere or has proof of owning it, then you’re going to be caught.
Moreover, some professors simply know your writing capabilities and your style. Hence, it could be incredibly suspicious if you suddenly start writing impressive pieces that blow your professor away. Be humble about your work, do it on time, and invest in it. As a college student, you need to know how to choose the ideal plagiarism checker to avoid those tiny mistakes.
7. Elaborate on your thoughts and ideas
Instead of using someone else’s concept, you can use the main idea and elaborate on it. While your thoughts and opinions are often based on other essays you read, they’re still going to be unique. Writing out your own perspective is guaranteed to provide you with a more unique piece. While this is only ideal in some cases, such as humanity courses and discussion, it’s proven the best approach to writing your own essay.
8. Use quotation marks
Quotation marks are one of the most fundamental aspects of writing, which people often neglect. If you’re directly citing a quotation, make sure you use them. This includes anything said on TV, a quote you found online, or even a line in an interview. Moreover, if you’re considering using a quote, cite it so whoever is reading your paper knows where it comes from.
9. Paraphrase everything
A dance is required when you’re trying to rewrite something you read online. While most might find it difficult, it is much easier than most know. However, you can accidentally slip into plagiarism if you do not do it correctly. Our general recommendation is for you to read the whole sentence, fully understand it, and write it from your point of view. That way, you avoid including any specific phrases that have been used in the paper.
So, what are the general guidelines you need to follow when rephrasing something? Do not use the exact words, do not use similar phrases, and avoid using the same flow. However, the most important part is doing it without changing the sentence’s meaning since you’re trying to convey the same message.
10. Do not procrastinate
We all know how a mini-freakout when the deadline is only 3 hours away makes things worse. That’s why you should always start your essay as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have the time to entirely write it, consider reading articles and sources and watching videos to get an idea of your topic. Later on, that will help you once you start writing, as it prevents a mental block. You’ll have sufficient information that will keep you flowing.
11. Understand the consequences
Sometimes, even if you read through this article, you might feel the urge to slip. You might be short on time, feeling particularly lazy, or unsure of what to write. You should understand that no university or college tolerates this. While the sanctions could be mild in some places, such as getting a zero on that assignment, they could be incredibly harsh in other areas. Some colleges and universities will suspend you, and others will give you a failing grade on that course. At the same time, some have the power to expel you.
The bottom line is avoiding plagiarism is easier than you might think. It simply requires you to stop being lazy by using other people’s work, whether a friend or an online source. It all boils down to being extra cautious and learning how to present your own material and do extensive research.
Plus, learning to avoid plagiarism and focusing on research allows you to retain more information. That will help you produce a much better essay, but it’ll come in handy when doing other material for the same course. In a gist, ask when you’re in doubt instead of reaching out to others and using the easy way out. Keep in mind that the main reason college students end up plagiarizing is out of laziness or procrastination.
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