A Quick Guide To Plagiarism

Plagiarism is, literally speaking, the act of knowingly or unknowingly passing someone else’s work off as your own.

Every educational institution in the World has an anti-plagiarism policy. Failing to follow this policy ultimately will result in a failing grade and maybe even expulsion. But, what does it mean? How do you check your paper for copied content? Is there such a thing as an online plagiarism checker?

Table of Contents

1. What is Plagiarism
2. How to Recognize Plagiarism?
3. Consequences of Plagiarism
4. How to Avoid Plagiarism
5. Examples of Plagiarism
6. Check for Plagiarism Online
7. Further information on copyright and plagiarism

What is Plagiarism?

According to the definition given in the 1997 New Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, plagiarism is “the unauthorized use of language and thoughts of another author and representation of them as one’s own” (508).

It can easily result in a student failing their assignment, being expelled from their school or college or an employee losing their job. To incorporate another writer’s ideas into your work, you should use quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing.

How to recognize plagiarism?

Plagiarism has many faces as it exists in various forms. That is why every student should know how to recognize it in the written text and avoid it while writing their own research papers. It is a serious violation so in academia different types of it are distinguished. So, infringement of copyright is:

  • Knowingly passing someone else’s work off as your own
  • Unknowingly passing someone else’s work off as your own
  • Mixing information from different sources
  • Patch writing that is using words and phrases from sources and patching them together in new sentence
  • Not properly citing source material
  • Not properly giving credit to someone when you’ve used their words in your text
  • Not properly citing your own text if you’ve used it in a different contextal

Consequences of Plagiarism

Being found guilty of plagiarism, whether intentionally or unintentionally, has a lasting effect and might even impact a student’s ability to graduate with their chosen degree. The better post-secondary institutions seldom believe in second chances when it comes to students being accused.

The consequences of plagiarism include a failing mark, academic probation, a mark on a permanent record. The worst consequence is being expelled from the course or university.

For a student, being found guilty of committing copyright infringement follows them throughout their academic career, and possibly even further. Post-Secondary institutions share information, so even if an expelled student does attempt to transfer or register at a different school, details of their indiscretion will be made available.

Later in life, as a professional employee, attempting to copy or take credit for someone else’s work will ultimately result in job loss and ripple effect that follows.

How to avoid plagiarism

There are many tips on how to not plagiarise and be sure that your content is original and will not be declined by the professor.

  • Cite your sources. To avoid plagiarism, all students must document sources properly using Footnotes, Endnotes, or Parenthetical References, and must compose a Bibliography, References or Works Cited page and place it at the end of research paper to list used sources. Of the three ways to document sources – Footnotes, Endnotes, and Parenthetical References, the simplest is using Parenthetical References, sometimes referred to as Parenthetical Documentation or Parenthetical Citations.

If you use Parenthetical References you only put a short reference enclosed in parentheses immediately after the citation, then list the sources cited in your Bibliography, Works Cited or References page at the end of your paper. See Chapter 9 for Parenthetical References Examples as well as Parenthetical References Sample Page.

  • Follow the teacher’s instructions. Check which type of documentation is preferred by your teacher. Most word processors have superscript, Footnote and Endnote capability. If you are required to use Footnotes or Endnotes, it is well worth the effort to master this feature on a computer a few days before your paper is due.

If you use Footnote references, you must have numerically superscripted Footnote references at the foot of the same page where your citations are located, plus you must add a Bibliography, Works Cited, or References page at the end of your paper unless instructed otherwise by your teacher or instructor. See Chapter 7 How to Write Footnotes, Chapter 8 Examples of First Footnotes, and Footnotes – Sample Page.

If you use Endnote references, your citation within text of your paper is the same as your Footnote citation, but you must list your Endnote references at the end of your paper in superscripted numerical order on a separate page entitled Endnotes. You must still add a Bibliography, Works Cited or References page after your Endnotes page unless instructed otherwise by your teacher or instructor. See Chapter 7 How to Write Endnotes, Chapter 8 Examples of First Endnotes, and Endnotes – Sample Page.

  • Stick to Citation Manuals.

For Parenthetical References you only put a short reference enclosed in parentheses immediately after citation, then list the sources cited in your Bibliography, Works Cited or References page at the end of your paper.

For Footnote references, you must have numerically superscripted Footnote references at the foot of the same page where your citations are located, plus you must add a Bibliography, Works Cited, or References page at the end of your paper unless instructed otherwise by your teacher or instructor.

For Endnote references, your citation within the text of your paper is the same as your Footnote citation, but you must list your Endnote references at the end of your paper in superscripted numerical order on a separate page entitled Endnotes. You must still add a Bibliography, Works Cited or References page after your Endnotes page unless instructed otherwise by your teacher or instructor.

  • Write your own ideas. Taking a paper from your friend or from a senior student’s archive is also not a very good idea. Do not use someone else’s original text from the Internet and directly incorporate such information into your essay without paraphrasing and acknowledging its source. Remember that plagiarism also includes paraphrasing, mix sentences from different sources and patchwriting — simply taking parts from various texts and combining them in your own text in different ways.
  • Don’t take this risk. Apart from you acting in an unethical, dishonest, and learning nothing in the process, problem is that your teacher probably knows you and your writing style too well for you to submit copied text successfully. Most secondary schools, colleges, and universities take a dim view at plagiarism which is becoming more rampant with the prevalent use of the Internet. Technology has made it too easy for students to search and click for an essay and simply pay with a valid credit card for an instant download online. Consequences may be severe when students are caught copying of another’s written work, so it is safer to avoid it.

Examples of Plagiarism

The most common example of plagiarism in today’s academic world comes from students’ lack of citation knowledge. Even if students mention used authors and books within text and create a list of references, they may forget to include endnotes, footnotes or parenthetical citations. That is considered an infringement of copyright as well. In order not to make such a mistake, it is necessary to cite all sources in the paper in accordance with your university citation guide. Make sure you know what citation manual you should use as all of them are different and have not similar requirements.

One more example is when a student decides to use the essay he or she has completed on their own but one or two years ago. Self-plagiarism is also a thing and is not accepted by professors. The aim of university studies is to broaden your knowledge, learn new material, develop a new viewpoint and not to copy from your old papers.

Another example might come in form of an employee attempting to take credit for the work created or report finished by their coworker or subordinate.

For further information on plagiarism, check out the following sites:

Academic and Community Standards at Harvard College from Harvard College Freshman Dean’s Office, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Includes: Standards and Expectations in Academic Life: academic honesty, misuse of sources, distinguish what is truly yours in the paper.

Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers by Professor Robert A. Harris, Vanguard University of Southern California.

Avoiding Plagiarism from Hamilton College, Clinton, NY. “Plagiarism is a form of fraud. You plagiarize if you present other writers’ words or ideas as your own.”

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.

Check for Plagiarism Online

By now, you understand how easy it is to avoid copying of another’s written text. But, what if you don’t know that you are copying something said by someone else? How do you verify that you have properly cited your source material or block quotes?

There are a number of free plagiarism checkers and paid resources online that you can use to verify uniqueness of your paper. Each application will scan your text and conduct a plagiarism test that verifies text against all available online sources to ensure that essay is either unique or properly cited. The most user-friendly and popular among students plagiarism tool that can be used without limit is AResearchGuide Plagiarism Checker. It provides accurate plagiarism report, highlights copied and paraphrased parts and help to ensure the originality of your content.

AResearchGuide Citation Assistant Benefits:

  • Compares your text to over 20 billion source
  • Does not require registration or subscription
  • Recommended by teachers and professors
  • Allows unlimited checks
  • Provides free plagiarism report

Infringement of copyright is easily avoidable, so long as you have done your due diligence in ensuring that you are only handing in a paper that is completely your own and that you have taken time to accurately cite any sources that you may have used or any quotes that might be included in your finished paper.

In using the above-mentioned online resources, you will be able to quickly and thoroughly scan your paper for any unintentional plagiarism and, as an added bonus, many of these applications also check from proper grammar, spelling errors and other elements allowing you to hand in a finished paper that is guaranteed to get a grade that is equal to the amount of effort that went into creating it!

Further information on copyright and plagiarism

  • Copyright and Fair Use from Stanford University Libraries. Contents: Copyright FAQs, Fair Use, The Public Domain, Introduction to the Permissions Process, Website Permissions, Academic and Educational Permissions, Releases, and Copyright Research.
  • Copyright Issues on the Web 2. What Is Plagiarism? By Kristina Pfaff-Harris, University of Nevada, Reno, NV.
  • EVE. Essay Verification Engine tracks down Internet sources of plagiarism. Free download for trial version.
  • Focus on Ethics Can Curb Cheating, Colleges Find by Kenneth R. Weiss, Times Education Writer.
  • The New Plagiarism: Seven Antidotes to Prevent Highway Robbery in an Electronic Age by Jamie McKenzie, Editor of From Now On – The Educational Technology Journal.
  • Plagiarism and the Web by Bruce Leland, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL.
  • Plagiarism.com. Glatt Plagiarism Services. A tutorial software program designed to teach students about plagiarism, how to avoid it, and how to detect it in their writing.
  • Plagiarism in Colleges in USA by Dr. Ronald B. Standler, Attorney in Massachusetts. Plagiarism viewed from a legal perspective. Cites plagiarism cases, and finds that in every plagiarism case involving a student or a professor the court upheld the punishment imposed by the college.
  • Plagiarism.org. Promotes Turnitin.com software that aims to put a stop to digital plagiarism. It provides information on Internet plagiarism and “cheat sites” online.
  • Plagiarism Thread. Review by William Marsh of National University, San Diego. Topics include: Guarding Against / Avoiding Plagiarism; Assessment & Response; Cultural, Economic and/or Educational Backgrounds of Students; Pedagogical, Aesthetic and Ethical Values underlying Plagiarism; Copyright Violation & Plagiarism.
  • Turnitin.com. Aims to put a stop to digital plagiarism. Originality Reports determine whether any homework assignment, essay, or research paper has been copied or paraphrased from the Internet.
  • Understanding Plagiarism from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. What Is Plagiarism at Indiana University? A short quiz with immediate feedback, and How to Recognize Plagiarism.
  • What Can We Do to Curb Student Cheating? Article by Sharon Cromwell, Education World®.
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