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Plagiarism in Education and How to Avoid It

During college years, most students struggle with plagiarism. Google defines plagiarism as, “copying someone else’s work and claiming it is yours.” That is a valid definition, but it is neither exact nor comprehensive. Plagiarism is more than copy-pasting.

I will start by giving out an extended definition of the word, and then, I will provide you with some great tips on how to avoid it.

The Definition

Plagiarism can be divided into three categories:

  • Copy-pasting someone else’s work word for word and claiming it is yours. Of course, it’s not only about copy-pasting. It can also be ordering essays online. Some services use plagiarised content so it’s important to find trustful essay service in which you can be sure.
  • Using inaccurate data to cite. When citing in your paper, you must recognize every resource you’ve used and list them accordingly. Then, you must choose a format, such as APA, Chicago, or MLA, use a citation machine, and copy-paste those references into your paper.
  • Plagiarizing your previous work. You should never use content from your previously written paper in your new work without acknowledging that you’re doing so or without citing the original work. That’s called self-plagiarizing.

The Tips

Here are some tips to help you get rid of plagiarizing:

  1. Map Out Your Ideas

Before beginning to write a paper, take a deep breath, and brainstorm some ideas. This process will help you avoid plagiarism. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Read the assignment carefully. Do not scan it! Read it thoroughly, and make sure you understand it well.
  • Next step is brainstorming. Take a pencil and a paper, and write down everything that goes through your mind when you think about your topic. If it’s an argumentative essay, think about the proper arguments that you could come up with.
  • Further analyze. You chose that specific argument to debate and support. Now ask yourself “why?” Why do you think the argument is defendable? And more importantly, how can you prove it? Do not Google ideas for now. Just think for yourself.
  • After you’ve come up with your own ideas, it’s time to do your research. Yes, Google is a good search engine, but there are other methods to research as well. For example, books! Since the Internet has taken over, students have forgotten completely about books. It’s time to use them!
  1. Consider Your Resources Carefully

Going off my last point, resources must be carefully considered before used. Quick tips:

  • Check your professor’s requirements and choose only the resources that fit his/her description.
  • Use books, journals, magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias, websites, or any other resource that is accredited. If you are going to use Google, go to scholarly articles page and choose from those.
  • Finally, pick the articles that are the most appropriate to your needs. Analyze the content that you are looking for: are you looking for background info on a specific subject? Maybe a discussion on a popular subject?
  1. Use Paraphrasing

If you found info that fits your paper’s requirements and is really interesting to add, you could use it without citing it but only if you paraphrase it. Change words, expressions, and content as much as you can. Deliver the message under a completely new format.

  1. Use Proper Citations

As mentioned before, the fair method to use is citing. Choose an online citing machine, and use it to format your citations in any specific format (look for your professor’s requirements.) The citation will usually include the name of the article, the name of the author, the article’s publication date, and the date when the citation was extracted.

  1. Quote Appropriately

Quoting is another brilliant way of reproducing the exact content that another author has used in a magazine/book/scientific journal, etc. Therefore, you cannot quote only half of their sentence and then develop on that. You must acknowledge them. Choose a rather short quote to begin with, end the quotations marks, and only then expand on it using your own words.

Do not use very long quotes, as it is unfair both to your paper and to the author you are citing from. Your work must be original if you want your work to be good, not quoted from different magazines or scientific articles. The only way you can come up with original ideas is through brainstorming.

  1. Cite Your Own Work

If you are going to use your own, previous ideas, do it properly. Cite your own work! Treat it the same as you would if it was not yours. Make sure you include specific dates, your name, and the title of your previous paper.

  1. Design a Special Page for References

After you’ve cited all of your work, design a special page for references at the end of your paper. The references should be included on a blank page, without any previous writing on it. Also, if you are using Wikipedia for inspiration, never cite it! Go to Wiki’s reference page at the bottom, and choose those websites as resources. Way more convincing!


Use the right resources, cite, quote, and stay away from copying any content word by word. You’ll have no problems with plagiarism whatsoever if you’re going to respect the aforementioned tips.

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Laura Buckler is a contributor and a freelance writer who is passionate about culture and linguistics. She enjoys exploring new countries and new languages, always open to a different and fresh perspective on life. You can find her on Twitter.

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