When starting on a new paper a student may have a bunch of questions plaguing his or her mind: how to avoid stealing someone else’s ideas and at the same time to write professionally and scholarly? Most probably you posed these questions to yourself and never found out the answers before getting a bad mark from your instructor:
- How much plagiarism is not considered plagiarism?
- What if I just change some words in a sentence and think it done?
- What if I just pull some sentences directly from the source and put them all in quotation marks?
- Maybe I will change the order of sentences and that will be enough?
- Maybe I will use some unknown internet source and no one will notice?
- and many more.
Unfortunately, all mentioned ways are outwardly wrong because they are real plagiarism in one form or another.
Little Bit Of Academic Theft Is Still Theft, Unfortunately
Now let us debunk some myths on how to circumvent the sharp eye of your instructor and learn no-nonsense ways to avoid plagiarism in your writing.
To begin with, academic writing is about expressing your ideas and your understanding of some concepts, facts or theories. Apart from some mathematical formulas and set phrases every existing sentence and uttered claim can be rephrased and presented in your own words. So basically there is no need to steal someone else’s work and pass it for your own. This unworthy need may arise only if you face very serious time shortage or if you do not understand the material. The rest of circumstances allow and demand that you write in your own words and engage your own style of thinking and writing (which you definitely have).
No matter the reason that prompts you to plagiarize, plagiarism is a serious academic misconduct that can be punished severely if you get caught. You may face a course failure (a lighter punishment) or get expelled from college (the ultimate degree of penalty). You definitely need neither of them so keep in mind the following rules about using (and not using) directly cut-and-paste excerpts of others’ works.
The acceptable amount of direct quotations in your paper is not to exceed 10% (some colleges permit up to 20% but it is better to stay on the safe side). So peppering your paper with lots of quotes is a plagiarism of the kind.
Changing some words in a sentence (but preserving the sentence structure and rest of words) or changing sentences order is easily detected by plagiarism scanners because it is open plagiarism.
No matter whether you use a respectable book by a renowned scholar or some humble website from the umpteenth page in Google search list, direct copying of content is theft. It will be detected by software anyway.
Yes, today students have it harder because checking programs abound, but this software and academic wariness are a response to boom of content copying enabled by the Internet. Anyhow, it is no use to place the blame or find ways to fool the machine. It is much better to learn how to write in your own words and so master a skill crucial for your future career and other life activities.
Five Steps of Mastering Original Academic Writing
- Do your research first. Understand concepts, ideas and the general line of your own argument. When you know pretty well all terms used in your sources, know the author’s standpoint and what his or her main arguments are, you do not need to copy word for word. You are in a position to speak freely in your own way. Just say what you understand and know. It may be simpler or shorter that the elaborate writing found in books but it will be your original writing.
- When writing use online tools for paraphrasing and synonym finding. Search for simpler words to replace complex ones, revert the sentence structure, shift from passive to active and vice versa, use ing-phrases, prepositional phrases, split longer sentences or fuse them into one by leaving aside unnecessary descriptors. The better you understand what you are talking about, the better your paraphrasing works.
- If you ultimately need that very sentence in ford-for-word form, be sure to include it into quotation marks. Remember about the amount of text you can cite directly and use it sparsely. Nevertheless, quotation marks are a way to avoid plagiarism claims and to use the precise phrasing you need. Comply while citing with rules that apply to general formatting style you use. APA style will differ from MLA style, for example, so be sure to check it up in manuals.
- When you deem your paper completed, use plag checker. There are tools available on the web,whether free or available upon subscription. Run your paper though it and then fix the places that you may have rephrased not carefully enough.
- Always, always provide a full reference list of works that you consulted while compiling your written piece. This is the first and foremost preventive measure to avoid plagiarism accusations. A prof may grumble that you did not provide explicit in-text citation for this or that idea, but there will be no way to say that you stole someone else’s works without giving credit to them. Besides, an impressive reference list shows that you have conducted thorough research and your paper is truly scholarly and valid. Hence although reference list making goes last in the list of writing steps, actually it is one of its crucial pillars.
Listed steps will help you out in any doubtful situation, when you feel like not knowing what to do with the information you have. But there is one more path to authentic and original writing. You can order a well-crafter and 100%-original paper from our company and get an excellent grade with guarantees of no plagiarism attached.
It will be a paper written according to your instructions and your supervision, so no stealing of somebody’s work. Besides, it will be phrased in own language without copying sentences and without incorporating whole bulks of unchanged texts into your work. It will be the paper any professor likes to see done by students. So get yourself such a paper from us and be confident about its originality and academic accuracy.