How to Avoid Plagiarizing
Avoiding plagiarism begins with properly managing your research. If you are rushed, don’t take good notes, or lose track of where you found your sources, you may find yourself accidentally plagiarizing. Here are some tips to prevent that from happening:
- Start your research early.
- Take and keep accurate notes of the sources you use. Distinguish between your ideas and other’s ideas and direct quotes.
- Document your sources immediately. As you gather sources during your research, make sure to record all the information you need to cite your sources accurately and completely (e.g., authors, titles, URL addresses, etc.). Check with your instructor or a librarian to see what citation information is required for the citation style you will be using (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).
Manage Your Materials
Reference management websites and applications exist to assist you in tracking and recording your research. Most of these websites are free and will even create the works cited page for you! Some of the most popular citation tools are:
Pick one of these helpful tools at the beginning of your research and use it during your initial searches to ensure you always keep track of your materials.
More Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism
- Make sure to place direct quotes from another person in quotation marks. This is especially important to remember when you are taking notes from any source you use. Make sure to copy the words exactly as they appear in the source.
- When you paraphrase, be sure you are not just changing or rearranging a few words. Carefully read over the text you want to paraphrase. Write out the idea in your own words. Check your paraphrase against the original text to make sure you have not accidentally used the same phrases or words.
- Make sure to include complete and correct citations in your works cited list.
- Make sure to follow the guidelines and rules for the citation style specified by your instructor (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).
- In the beginning of the first sentence containing a quote or paraphrase of another’s work, make it clear that it is someone else’s idea (e.g., According to Smith . . . )
- Make sure to include in-text citations within your paper for any information taken from another person’s work. A typical in-text citation includes the author’s last name and the page number of the source. The in-text citation is inserted at the end of the last sentence containing a quote or paraphrase of another’s work – example: (Jones, 127)