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Preventing Plagiarism

Whether it is on purpose or an honest accident, incorrectly citing a source or failing to cite a source is an act of plagiarism. Writers caught in this type of plagiarism often get their resources mixed-up, lose track of a source, have poorly organized notes, or simply run out of time. Effective organization and management of all resources used in your research process is essential to proper citation and avoiding plagiarism. 

Taking Notes

One of the most effective strategies for avoiding plagiarism is taking thorough and complete notes. Over time, it is easy to lose track of the details of your notes. Something that you pulled word for word from a source could easily be mistaken as something you paraphrased. 

  • Begin your works cited page early in your research process. It is easier to remove sources at the end.
  • Write your notes in your own words rather than word-for-word from your sources.
  • Clearly indicate when you take a line or passage word for word. Put quotations around these passages. Make a complete citation to the source, while including the exact page number.
  • Develop a system to organize your notes that works for you. 
  • Give yourself PLENTY of time.

Appropriate Paraphrasing

Many incidents of plagiarism can be avoided by appropriately paraphrasing from your reference sources. 

  • Create a complete outline of your essay or speech. 
  • Put away the articles and books. Write your essay from your well-written notes.
  • Tell someone else about your topic or record yourself discussing the topic. Write down what you tell the other person.
  • Compare your passage against the source material.
  • Give yourself enough time to research, write, and revise your essay. Rushing to finish can often lead to mistakes.