Avoiding plagiarism can be helped by proper preparation, a good understanding of the subject, contributing useful and unique research, adding proper citations, and finally, checking your article for plagiarism.
Before submitting your next manuscript for publication, ask yourself the following questions and find out if you are the true author of your article.
Do I understand the subject well?
When you understand the subject well, you are less likely to use another person’s words and ideas. Before you start writing, dive deep into your chosen research topic. Get as much information as you can from books, magazines, videos, articles, and other sources. Referring to different source materials not only expands knowledge, but also reduces the chances of unintentional copying or plagiarism. Relying on one source of information, on the other hand, increases the likelihood that you will use that person’s words or ideas.
Is there anything I can contribute to this topic?
If you have nothing new or original to say in terms of justification or research content, you are summarizing or paraphrasing the work of others. Nobel laureate poet T. S. Eliot summarizes this by saying, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets depersonalize what they borrow, but good poets turn it into something better, or at least into something else. The good poet immerses the stolen into his own unique world of feeling, quite different from the one from which it was torn; the bad poet tries to combine the unconnected.” Said enough.
How thoroughly done are my notes?
Keep detailed notes and keep a close eye on original sources. Develop the habit of writing down bibliographic information about publication sources, including author names, article titles, page numbers, and web addresses. Always write down your own source of information; never rely on other authors’ footnotes. The website plagiarism.org recommends using colored markers to distinguish original ideas from material taken from sources. Make this a rule, and it will be easy for you to cite primary sources in your text and submit your articles on time.
Are these ideas or arguments entirely my own?
This question may seem obvious, but sometimes readers have a hard time distinguishing between your ideas and work done by someone else. When you build your ideas using other sources, make sure there is a clear distinction. Sometimes, even if you cite primary sources, using vague language can lead to unintentional plagiarism. Readers should not doubt which ideas belong to you. Check the article for plagiarism and find ways to avoid it.
Is it written in my own words?
This applies even to words and inaccurate paraphrases. If the answer is no, either quote directly from the passage or rewrite it in your own words and give credit to the original author. According to the New Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language (Webster), plagiarism is “the unauthorized use of another author’s language and thoughts and presenting them as your own” (508). A reliable way to do this is to make sure that you are not copying verbatim more than two words in a row.
Do I need to quote this?
When using a direct quote, paraphrasing or summarizing another person’s ideas, borrowing an idea, or using facts that are not common knowledge, you should provide a link to the original source. This includes tables, maps, graphs, and various data. Learn to use footnotes and footnotes, and give source citations in parentheses. This will add credibility to your arguments and strengthen your article by proving that you have done your own research and are able to process ideas with your own. Remember to put citations in quotation marks.
Have I done everything I can to avoid plagiarism?
Using plagiarism checking services is a great way to evaluate your paraphrasing and other anti-plagiarism skills. Powerful plagiarism checking software allows you to avoid career suicide, understand what plagiarism is, and stay away from it.
Thus, whether your scholarly articles are read by hundreds of readers around the world or only by your colleagues or family, proper citation of primary sources should be commonplace. There is a fine but very clear line between educational innovation and intellectual theft. It’s easy to get ahead of plagiarism. Make it a habit to start your research early, incorporate information using citations or paraphrases, give credit where credit is due, and learn how to use different citation styles, such as MLA for referencing information.