Plagiarism is the using of somebody’s words or ideas, and trying to pass them off as your own. In many cases plagiarism isn’t intentional or deliberate. It can stem from not knowing particular rules for crediting resources or from inadvertently omitting the necessary documentation of a source. Whether plagiarism was deliberately committed or was the result of ignorance or accident, it all falls under the same rules, and is considered a serious infraction. An individual who has held a doctorate degree for many years can have that degree revoked if it should happen to come out that they committed plagiarism on their doctoral thesis. Learning how to avoid plagiarism in academic writing and knowing tips for structuring your paper can save you many future headaches.
How to avoid plagiarism in academic writing
Plagiarism and how to avoid it means knowing what does and does not need to be documented when writing a paper using material from other sources. Information that need not be documented would include the following:
- Information that is general common knowledge. Factual information considered part of the public domain such as historical dates. Common knowledge would include folklore and mythology and common sense observations such as the sun rises in the east.
- Information derived through your own experiments, observations or lived experiences
- Field specific common knowledge. Information that is only common knowledge in a specific field, but in the field is widely known.
Information that should be documented and credited include the following
- Direct quotations from somebody such as from an interview
- Information that isn’t common knowledge
- Ideas. Ideas may include a specific way or procedure for doing something or points made and conclusions drawn.
- Reprinting any visual material like charts and graphs
- Words directly copied even if not a quote
Information that has been reworded by you and put into your own words is known as paraphrasing. When paraphrasing information, credit must still be given to the original source. There are several commonly used styles for documenting resources. Your instructor may have a preference or it may be left up to you to select the style you use. Besides,you may learn more about the use of content keywords that will tell what specifically the topic is and what area of the topic should be focused on.
Tips on how to avoid plagiarism in academic writing
Make use of these tips to avoid inadvertently committing plagiarism
- Become familiar with the types of information that do and don’t require documentation
- Keep track of all resources from the beginning of a project. Information taken from a source 6 months ago may result in you forgetting where it came from.
- As you make rough drafts identify parts of your honours dissertation that need documentation in a way that stands out so it isn’t overlooked.
- When in doubt, give credit.
A charge of plagiarism can damage your reputation and even result in expulsion from school.
Image credit: http://www.ncad.ie/students/support-services/the-writing-and-research-support-service/