Plagiarism and Paraphrasing
According to a research, 62% of undergraduate students and 40% of graduate students admit that they cheated on written assignments.
Understanding how and when to cite sources is an essential skill that students need to learn. If you borrow someone else’s ideas from a textbook, blog post, or academic journal, you must give appropriate credit for fairly and consistently representing the ideas of the source. This guide covers:
- Plagiarism checkers, citation managers and writing tools
What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism is “the use of another person’s words, ideas, findings, or images without giving that person proper credit and giving the impression that it is his/her own work”.
Types of plagiarism:
Six common forms of plagiarism are as follows:
- Verbatim plagiarism: You are copying someone else’s work verbatim.
- Mosaic plagiarism: You take excerpts from one or more sources and cannot sufficiently paraphrase or quote the information.
- Inappropriate paraphrase: Your paraphrase is too similar to the original content.
- Paraphrase without quotes: Properly paraphrases someone else’s content, but does not give credit to the original source.
- Unquoted citation: You cite information in your writing, but do not provide the original source to your readers.
- Use of Another Student’s Work: Submit and receive full credit for another student’s ideas.
It is important to note that plagiarism may or may not be intentional. Unintentional plagiarism occurs when a student unknowingly cites a source inaccurately or inappropriately. Intentional plagiarism, on the other hand, occurs when a student chooses not to cite a source or attempts to pass off someone else’s ideas as their own.
The consequences of plagiarism vary from one institution to another; you can be expelled or drop out of a course. In less severe cases, plagiarism, both intentional and unintentional, can result in a penalty, fine, or suspension. In addition to academic consequences, plagiarism also tarnishes your reputation and undermines your integrity. Whether you are in school or in the world of work, plagiarism is not a good idea.
How to avoid Plagiarism?
The key to avoiding plagiarism is learning to incorporate research into your writing. You can rewrite in the following ways:
- Quote: If you don’t want to edit a source, use quotes around all text phrases.
- Summarize: If you find several relevant points in a long text, simplify them into your own condensed synopsis.
- Paraphrase: If you want to use information from a source, rephrase it in your own words using “new words and phrases with the same or slightly more word count than the original”.
What is Paraphrasing?
Paraphrasing is using your own words to convey the meaning of a passage. This shows your reader that you have researched and understood the content. While students may understand that they need to cite sources, many find it difficult to paraphrase others’ ideas in their own words. However, like many aspects of writing, effective paraphrasing is a skill that develops over time.
How to Handle Paraphrases?
The purpose of paraphrasing is to translate the original work into your own words and sentence structure. The best way to approach this is to focus on the meaning of the text, forcing yourself to interact with its purpose and context.
A good way to test your understanding of the material is to see if you can explain it to someone else. Once you have this level of understanding, it becomes easier to create effective paraphrases: changing the language and structure of a passage becomes more manageable.
Here are some tips to help you paraphrase:
- Reread the passage until you fully understand its meaning.
- Write your own summary of the passage, without referring to the original.
- Make sure your summary accurately reflects the context of the original passage.
- Document the source of the information on your summary, either on a card or on a piece of paper.
- Use quotation marks around the required literal information.
Remember that you should always quote your paraphrases, but the follow-up analysis and talking points are yours.
What requires citation?
Whenever you use information that is not generally known or that you did not create, you must cite it. The following items require a citation, usually via an in-text citation or reference list entry:
- Quotes: If you are quoting the actual words someone said, enclose the words in quotes and cite the source.
- Information and ideas: If you get ideas or information from other places, cite them, even if you paraphrase the original content.
- Illustrations: If you use someone else’s graph, table, figure or illustration, you must acknowledge the source. These may also require permission and a copyright notice.
Common Knowledge Exception
You do not need to quote information considered to be in the public domain as long as you repeat the known fact. Information must have the following characteristics to be considered common knowledge:
- The reader would already be aware of this.
- This is a widely accepted fact; for example, there are 24 hours in a day.
- It is accessible through common information sources.
- Comes from folklore or a known story.
- Is widely recognized in his/her field and known to the audience.
Why is citation important?
The importance of citation goes beyond avoiding plagiarism, citations are used to:
- Distinguish new ideas from existing information;
- Reinforces arguments on a particular topic;
- Enables readers to find your sources and generate additional information;
- Maintain ethical research and writing; and
- Ensure attribution of ideas, avoiding plagiarism.
Additionally, a proper citation increases your credibility with readers, shows off your critical thinking skills, and demonstrates your strong writing skills.
Plagiarism Prevention and Writing Resources
It takes time to develop strong writing and paraphrasing skills. Thinking of writing more like a discussion than a report can help you develop your skills. Remember, this isn’t about reporting and repeating information; it’s about expanding ideas and making them your own.
It is important to remember and understand that a writing tool or bot or free writing tools or software can’t compete with expert writers who rewrite content professionally and manually. Also, always cite sources accurately and improve your writing while developing your own unique idea/voice.