Thursday, October 1, 2015

How to Avoid Accidental Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a pressing issue today because of the abundance of information available to public on the Internet. And while lots of people deliberately attribute writings and sayings of others to themselves, sometimes it happens when they unconsciously produce texts with accidental plagiarism. There can be 3 cases when people unintentionally steal someone’s thoughts:
  1. They think that these are their personal conclusions (sometimes people forget that they have read some facts in external sources);
  2. They really come up with original conclusions but have no idea that someone has written about this before;
  3. They simply forget to credit the author.

I think it’s a familiar situation for you. You do a research, suddenly the thought pops up in your brain and you think that it is so natural to draw such a conclusion (maybe because you have read about it before) or you gather information on some topic and put it in one place but then can’t really figure out which is yours and which is just copied from the external source.
So, how to avoid such situations? It is an extremely important issue as accidental plagiarism is still plagiarism. There are several steps that can prevent you from submitting work that is not 100% original and I will talk about them just now.
  1. Check the most obvious deductions
When you’ve pulled a conclusion and it seems to be a very easy one because it’s logical, better check it up because the chances are that you’ve read about it before.
  1. Don’t jump to your “genius” conclusion
I know that there are times when you think that you’ve discovered America but America was discovered years ago, so be careful.
  1. Label everything you find for your topic
When you find the necessary information, ALWAYS highlight it and credit it to the real author, especially if it’s a draft. If you use MS Word, it’s very easy. With simple notebook just use highlighters.

  1. Credit even paraphrased
If you think that someone’s words become yours when paraphrased, that is not true. Even if you change the words with synonyms or reverse the word order, you still need to credit.

That’s practically it. Very simple but crucial steps to follow in order not to be accused of plagiarism. I do that all the time and it helps me greatly. Hope that it will do the same for you.