How do you avoid plagiarism?

Being aware of what could be considered to be plagiarism should help you to avoid falling into any ‘traps’. For example, you should now know that it’s not enough to change a couple of words in a sentence written by someone else, and say that sentence is your own work. If you do, you may find you are accused of plagiarism.

One of the best methods of avoiding plagiarism is to ensure that you acknowledge the work of other people. You should do this by using a referencing style. There are many, many different referencing styles, and before you submit any piece of work you should check your coursework guidelines to find out what referencing requirements your lecturer has given you.

Academic health warning!

One of the most common reasons people inadvertently plagiarise is because they have made poor notes during their research.

It is essential when you are making notes from any item you read that if you copy, or cut and paste, any of the text, a figure, table or illustration, that you also write down the details of where that text etc., came from. If you don’t, and you look back at your notes a few months later, you will have forgotten which are your words, and which are someone else’s. Copying someone else’s words from your notes into a new piece of work, and not including a reference could mean you are accused of plagiarism.

There is more information about note-taking in section 3.1. But the best advice we can give you now is: when taking notes, include other people’s words in quotation marks, and always write down the page number or webpage that you read.

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