How to avoid plagiarism in scientific articles (Part 1)

When writing a scholarly article, the researcher faces the problem of selecting literature and presenting evidence to make the work more weighty. A necessary step is to use previously established ideas and values and to add relevant information to the article, but this must be done with caution to avoid falling into the trap of plagiarism.

Plagiarism is the unethical practice of using the words or ideas (planned or accidental) of another author/researcher or your own previous work without proper reference to the source. It is considered a serious academic and intellectual violation, plagiarism can lead to extremely negative consequences, such as refusal to publish the article and loss of the author’s credibility and reputation. It is now a serious problem in academic publishing, and it is a major cause of rejection of scholarly articles.

Therefore, researchers need to broaden their understanding of plagiarism. In some cultures, academic traditions and nuances may not insist on authentication by citing the source of words or ideas. However, this form of verification is a prerequisite in the international academic code of conduct. Authors whose native language is not English will face the more difficult problem of describing technical content in English as well as adhering to ethical rules. The digital age also affects plagiarism. Researchers have easy access to materials and data on the Internet, making it easy to copy and paste information.

Avoid plagiarism, no matter how accidental. Here are some effective tips to avoid plagiarism.

Understand the context

  • You should not copy and paste text from the article you are using verbatim. Instead, restate the idea in your own words.
  • Understand well the idea(s) of the source used in order to paraphrase correctly.
  • Examples of good paraphrasing can be found here


Use quotation marks to indicate that the text was taken from another article. The quotation marks should be exactly the same as in the source article.

Determine what should and should not be quoted

  • Any words or ideas that are not your own but are taken from another article should be quoted.
  • Cite your own material-if you use content from your previous article, you must cite yourself. Using material you have previously published without citing is called self-plagiarism.
  • Scientific evidence that you have collected after tests should not be cited.
  • Facts or common knowledge should not be cited. If you are not sure, include a citation in your work.

Manage citations

  • You should keep a record of the sources you cite. Use citation software, such as EndNote or Reference Manager, to manage the citations used for an article.
  • Use multiple citations for the background/review of literature. For example, instead of citing a review, cite individual articles and refer to them.

Use a plagiarism checker

You can use various plagiarism detection tools such as iThenticate or eTBLAST to check for any unintentional plagiarism in your manuscript.

Tip: While it’s perfectly fine to review previously published work, you shouldn’t rehash the same thing with great similarity. Most plagiarism occurs in the literature review section of any document (manuscript, thesis, etc.). So if you read the original paper carefully, try to understand the context, make good notes, and then express it to your target audience in your own language (remembering to cite the original source), you will never be accused of plagiarism (at least for the literature review section).

Note: The above statement applies only to the literature review section of your paper. You should never use someone else’s original results and claim them as your own!

If you want to learn more about writing program inserts, quoting, paraphrasing, and more, read the next article in this series!

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