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How to avoid plagiarism

If you need help with how to reduce plagiarism in your essay, give us a call on 020 3292 1343.

One of the biggest concerns for students and teachers on undergraduate and postgraduate levels is avoiding plagiarism. Because of the advance in communications, these days students have access to many free academic and online resources. Plagiarism is a type of academic dishonesty, and may seriously jeopardise your studies. Most UK and US universities use plagiarism tracking facilities such as Turnit in and Write Check, which scan your paper against a vast internet and academic database. They show the percentage of unoriginal text in your work. The accepted threshold for unoriginal text in a paper is usually 15 per cent, because the software scans your in-text citations, as well as bibliography.

While there are frequent cases of deliberate plagiarism, most students encounter the so called “accidental plagiarism”. You might have original ideas and put your own thoughts into a paper, and still get a high percent of plagiarism in your papers. The reason is not because you necessarily had the intention to steal someone else’s work, but because you did not cite in a proper format.

Here are some tips on how to avoid accidental plagiarism:

Always acknowledge the resources that you are using in the text. Make sure you mention the name of the author and the year of publication, even if you are only referring to their idea.

Reduce the amount of direct quotes in your text to not more than 10 per cent. When you quote directly, put the quote in inverted commas, and again specify the author, the year and the page number.

Differentiate between your ideas and the ideas of others. When you conduct extensive research, especially for dissertations, at a certain stage it becomes difficult to remember what was generated as your idea, and what came from a given source. Keep track of your findings throughout the research, and acknowledge the work of other researchers in the field.

Make sure you cite properly. Using the correct citation style is very important for avoiding accidental plagiarism. Get well acquainted with the most common citation styles such as Harvard, MLA, APA and Oxford. Adhere to the citation requirements of your university, and always make sure the resources in your bibliography match the ones used in your paper. If your paper has a high percentage of plagiarism, have a look at your report, and the problematic areas, highlighted by the plagiarism checker. Revising the structure and the content of the highlighted sentences often helps to reduce the plagiarism level.

Have a look at the following website, for more information on the different types of plagiarism and how to avoid it:


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