5 tips to prevent plagiarism

Even the most honest student may plagiarise material accidentally, so here are a few useful tips on how to avoid falling into the plagiarism trap.

To learn more about the types of plagiarism, read our post Let’s talk about Plagiarism.

1. Use multiple sources for your research

When researching articles, books and websites to use for your assignment, you might find one perfect source that contains all of the information you need. However, this is an easy way to accidentally plagiarise, as all of your content ideas will come from a single location. Where possible, use multiple sources of information to when doing research for your assignments.

Not sure where to look? Here is a list of research sources that are not textbooks. 

2. Paraphrasing

When you find material that is perfect for your assignment, put it into your own words. This is called paraphrasing. Not only does this help you understand the content better, but also it prevents direct copying of the author’s original work. If it is not possible to put an idea into your own words it may be appropriate to use a direct quote instead (see Tip 3).    

3. Give credit where credit is due

Sometimes you need to refer to a concept that is not yours. Simply adding someone else’s ideas or words into your assignment without a reference is plagiarism, but this can be easily avoided by letting the reader know where the original material came from. If you are copying words verbatim you should use a direct quote. If you are paraphrasing, you should provide an in-text citation, so that the reader can locate the original research source.  

4. Cross-check your sources

It may be boring, but while conducting your research, keep a list of the sources that you have taken ideas or inspiration from. This is important as you will need to submit a reference list as part of your assignment and it is easy to lose track of what and where you read something. By keeping track of your research sources, it will be much easier to crosscheck your finished assignment to see if there are similarities that could be considered plagiarism.   

5. Use a plagiarism checker

To protect yourself from accidental plagiarism, run your assignment through a plagiarism checker, such as WriteCheck. This software will compare your assignment to other research sources or student’s assignments and alert you if there is something suspicious. Remember, these checkers do not have access to all the content in the world, so it is possible to have plagiarised from a source that is not registered by plagiarism checker.