Plagiarism is considered serious academic misconduct. It can cause a student to fail a class, get suspended, or even get expelled from school. But while students are aware that plagiarism is an offense, many still struggle with avoiding it and eventually end up committing accidental plagiarism. Unfortunately, the punishment for accidental plagiarism is often as severe as the punishment for deliberate plagiarism.

So how do you avoid plagiarism? What steps can you take to ensure your paper is original? In this post, we will look at what plagiarism is and what you can do to avoid it. If you recognize what plagiarism is and know how to get around it, you’ll be more likely to produce original output.


What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism can be simply defined as passing off someone else’s work as your own. In the academic setting, plagiarism happens when a student submits a written project, such as an essay or research paper, written by someone else. This is considered cheating since students are expected to write their own unique papers. An example of this is when a student copies another student’s paper or takes a paper published on the Internet and then submits it as his or her own.

Types of Plagiarism

While plagiarism is the act of taking other people’s work and passing it as one’s own, it comes in different forms. Knowing the types of plagiarism will help you avoid them. Below are the most common types of plagiarism and their descriptions.

Direct plagiarism. Direct plagiarism is when a student copies another person’s work and submits it without making any changes. An example of this is copying sentences, paragraphs, or even entire sections from a source without enclosing them in quotation marks or citing the source’s author. Hence, the student ends up submitting a paper that is fully or partially identical to others’ works. This type of plagiarism is also known as “copy and paste” plagiarism. 

Remix plagiarism. Remix plagiarism is when a student takes content from the source and changes the wording without citing the authors. For instance, the student might paraphrase or summarize the content, which enables the student to avoid submitting an identical copy. But the fact that the student took content from sources without crediting them makes the paper basically plagiarized.

Mosaic plagiarism. This type of plagiarism happens when a student combines content from different sources and then makes limited changes. For example, the student might replace some words with synonyms, change the structure of sentences, rearrange parts, and add or omit words and phrases. The paper thus ends up being a patchwork of stolen and original content.

Self-plagiarism. Self-plagiarism is basically the act of submitting your own work that you have previously used for a different project. An example of this is submitting an essay to your professor when that essay was submitted to another professor in the previous term.

Misattribution plagiarism. This type of plagiarism happens when a student attributes information to the wrong source. For instance, suppose a piece of information you mention comes from your textbook. But then you cite a journal article as the source for this information. Because the source is incorrect, the piece of information is as good as without a source and therefore plagiarized. You can read more about the types of plagiarism here: https://www.customessaymeister.com/blog/types-of-plagiarism

As a student, you are expected by your school to exercise due diligence, such as by meticulously documenting the sources of your content. Familiarizing yourself with these types will help you steer clear of committing them.

Ways to Avoid Plagiarism

Whether plagiarism is committed deliberately or accidentally doesn’t make much difference. Most schools treat any type of plagiarism as a serious offense. Learning to recognize plagiarism is therefore not enough; equally important is knowing ways of actively avoiding it. Below are some of the best strategies for avoiding plagiarism.

Write from scratch

The best way to avoid plagiarism is by simply writing your paper from scratch. Copying and then editing content might be tempting since it’s quicker, but it is also very risky. Write everything in your own words and add quotes only when absolutely necessary.

Accurately cite all sources used

Make sure you document all the sources you used. Add an in-text citation every time you put something that came from a source. The rule of thumb is, any specific information that you have to look up must have a citation, while information regarded as common knowledge does not need a citation. When in doubt, add a correct citation anyway since it’s safer this way.

Paraphrase content

Avoid quoting large blocks of text from your sources. Instead, paraphrase or summarize content since this helps keep the similarity index down. Of course, do not forget to include in-text citations even if you paraphrase the content.

Use quotation marks 

Using quotation marks is absolutely necessary if you include direct quotes from your sources. Quotation marks indicate that the passage is not yours. Similar to when you paraphrase information, make sure that quotations come with in-text citations.

Enlist professional help

You can also enlist help from professionals to ensure that your paper is free of plagiarism. Reliable services like Custom Essay Meister employ professional writers who are experts at identifying and removing plagiarism from papers. These writers will work with you and guide you through the writing process. Their assistance will ensure that your paper is high-quality and all-original.

Plagiarism is a big problem facing many students. Accidental plagiarism, in particular, can be scary since it sometimes happens despite students’ best intentions. Knowing the ways to prevent plagiarism will help you ensure that your papers are original. But if you find yourself confused and uncertain, getting help from professionals is the way to go.

Plagiarism Checkers

Part of learning how to avoid plagiarism is knowing the tools schools use to check papers for plagiarized content. Three of the most commonly used tools are Turnitin, SafeAssign, and Copyscape.

Turnitin. Turnitin is a web-based service that checks documents by comparing their contents to papers stored in its database as well as content from the Internet. It then delivers a report that shows which parts are plagiarized and the sources they are lifted from. The similarity index, which indicates the extent of plagiarism, is expressed as a percentage. Turnitin is a paid service and is the most widely used plagiarism checker in the world.

SafeAssign. SafeAssign is another web-based service that checks documents. Like Turnitin, it compares a document to papers stored in its database and the Internet. It also highlights plagiarized parts and includes a similarity index. It is likewise a paid service.

Copyscape. Copyscape is similar to Turnitin and SafeAssign, except that it only checks documents against the content published on the Internet and the account owner’s private database. This means Copyscape does not check if a document has been submitted to the databases of other schools. It is also a paid service, although the cost is much lower than the ones of Turnitin and SafeAssign.

The use of plagiarism checkers is becoming more common, especially in colleges and universities. Do not make the mistake of thinking that it’s easy to get around these tools. These checkers are very sensitive and get better at identifying plagiarism over time. So rather than spending your time and energy thinking of ways to outsmart these tools, dedicate your resources to writing original papers instead.

Remember that avoiding plagiarism is not just about ensuring you don’t get penalized. More importantly, it is about learning how to write well. Writing original content and documenting sources you used do not just save you from committing academic offenses; they help you grow as a writer, student, professional, and individual.