Old Pueblo Academy

University Homework Tips: Avoiding Plagiarism

New university students aren’t always aware of the rules that come with writing university essays and term papers. Inadvertent mistakes, for instance, can lead to charges of plagiarism which can have extremely terrible consequences. Plagiarism is generally the uncredited use of somebody else’s word or ideas and can result in a failing grade or possible expulsion from the department or university.

Whether intentional or unintentional, it’s a student’s responsibility to ensure that his or her work is original and isn’t considered plagiarism. Here are some ways of avoiding it.

Put In Quotations. It’s a good idea to put quotations around everything that comes directly from any other works you are using. Whether it’s a complete phrase, a sentence, or an entire paragraph be sure you put quotes and immediately cite the original author. If you find that your paper has too many quotes you might be better off not using this part of text, but under no circumstances should you leave it in without applying quotation marks and crediting the author.

Paraphrase. Whenever you paraphrase a portion of text you want to be sure that you aren’t simply replacing or rearranging a few words. One way of making sure you aren’t committing plagiarism is covering up the original text you want to include in your work and writing it out from memory in your own words. You can add a note to that portion of your paper reminding you to come back to it and rewrite it one more time. If it’s an original idea, which is often the case, you should also properly acknowledge the source of the information.

Common Knowledge. Any facts that can be found in a number of places and are very likely to be known by several people could be used with citation. For instance, President George W. Bush served two terms as president. You wouldn’t need to document this fact since it’s not an original idea that can be traced back to a particular person. But you should always document facts that aren’t known as well as any ideas that interpret facts. For instance, “According to James Tidwell’s book The American Dream, President Bush’s foreign policy hindered the United States standing as a world leader of peace.”

Plagiarism is serious concern for university professors and administrators who want a student’s work to truly represent his or her own efforts. Take the time review your entire paper, diligently checking for any instances in which content might be taken for plagiarism. It’s always better to be on the safe side, so definitely cite properly or consider removing content if it’s too close to someone else’s work.