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Avoiding Plagiarism: Tips to Avoid Plagiarism

A guide to plagiarism and how to avoid it.

Avoiding Plagiarism


Avoiding Plagiarism --Purdue OWL 
Purdue University's Online Writing  Lab (aka OWL)  provides a very functional and informative guide.

How to avoid plagiarism--Scribbr
A guide with very practical advice on how to avoid plagiarism.

Student Guide to Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism in the Classroom and Online--Online Education
Although this guide is designed for online students, onsite students will find useful information.

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism--John. F. Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library
A brief but very practical guide

Understanding & Preventing Plagiarism--Accredited Schools Online 

This extensive guide targets both students and faculty in preventing plagiarism

Easy Steps to Avoid Plagiarism

Start early and finish early.  You have no idea what will happen throughout the course of a semester.  Starting early lets you build a crumple zone into your schedule so you have to pull an all-nighter.  You might want to try out the "Assignment  Calculator" from the University of Minnesota to pace yourself.   

Practice using the required citation style.  Even with the benefit of a citation composer such as RefWorks, being familiar with the style will help you not waste time figuring the intricacies of APA out.  

Files not piles.  Develop a filing system for your print and electronic documents.  Eagle Search and RefWorks each have good ways to keep your files organized   A number of e-file systems allow you to highlight and make notes electronically.   Use file folders to keep paper copies organized.  Creating an effective filing system will save you hours of time in looking for where you put those papers...

Cite as you go.  Citing as you write ties your sources to your content.  Linking things together this way will reduce your chances of accidently omitting a souce.

Keep a working bibliography.  This is a list of every source you use.  This will be handy if you need to go back and find an item.   If you make your working bibliography into your final bib, be sure to only include items actually cited in your paper.

Ask.  If you have questions, your librarians, professors, tutors, etc are all here to help you!

Graphic Guide

How Professors Detect Plagiarism

Even before running an assignment through a plagiarism checker such as Turnitin, your professors' intuition often leads them to suspect an assignment is plagiarized.   This frequently happens when:

The writing style is significantly different (often better) than the student's previous work.  For example, a student handed in a first assignment filled with typographical errors and poorly written sentences.  The student's next assignment was filled with words such as "hegemonic"  and was error-free.  The professor searched a paragraph online and found a word-for-word match.

A student uses terminology not used in the class or readings and does not cite it.  A student handed in a paper about the Eastern Front in WWII and kept referring to the "Great Patriotic War," the Soviet name for the conflict.  The paper showed a pro-Russian bent that could be considered propaganda.

The student pastes text that was clearly copied.  A student handed in an obvious cut and paste job which even included a request for donations for the organization owning the page she copied from.

The assignment does not address the topic.  A student handed in a copy of a review for a western movie.  The assignment was to analyze a western movie in light of what was learned in a history of the American west class. The review covered everything from the directorial style to the actors' performances, but nothing about how it showed an inaccurate depiction of the west.

The information is clearly outdated.  A student submitted a paper talking about President Clinton's current policy on a topic.  As President Bush was in office and had a different policy, the professor easily caught the student using copied and out-of-date information.

Multiple students hand in the exact same assignment.  Three students handed in the same assignment down to the same typos.  When confronted, one broke down and confessed, the second maintained it was all a mind-boggling coincidence  (yeah right!), and the third disappeared never to be seen again!

All the incidents mentioned here as examples are true, but did not take place at Heritage University.  There are numerous other ways professors have of detecting academic dishonesty, but they do not want you to know all their ways.

Detection Tools for Students

Bartleby Write  comes with interactive essay templates, grammar and spell checking, preliminary grading, a citation generator, as well as plagiarism detection for $9.95/month

Chegg Writing provides a citation composer, proofreading and instant plagiarism and grammar checks for $9.95/month

EasyBib offers suggestions on improving writing style, grammar, and sentence structure, plagiarism checks, and a citation composer for $9.95/month

Grammarly in the premium version there is a plagiarism detection feature as well as others designed to improve word choice, tone, formality, and fluency.  Subscriptions range from $12/ month paid annually to $30/month paid monthly.

Plagium offers two levels of plagiarism checking.  A Quick Search for plagiarism charges .04/page while the Deep Search is .08 

Plagscan is a browser-based web service for plagiarism prevention and detection that allows users to upload documents in most digital formats. It then checks the document for similarities with other published material and generates a report based on those findings.

Scribbr provides a proofreading and editing service as well as citation generation, and plagiarism checking.  Charges are based on workdcount and range from $19.95 for document up to 7,500 words to $39.95 for more than 50,000 words.