When people use someone else’s words without intending to do academic misconduct or pass off the work as their own, they commit unintended, accidental, or unintentional plagiarism. This type mainly occurs due to the lack of knowledge about what constitutes content theft, negligence in properly attributing borrowed text and poor understanding of citation styles. Like other kinds, this type of textual content theft can have severe consequences, especially if you’re a student. So, in this blog post, we’ll share five Tips to Identify and Help Students Avoid Unintended Plagiarism.
- Understand What Plagiarism Is
As we’ve briefly specified in the introduction, one of the main reasons students face this issue is that they don’t know what constitutes plagiarism. Therefore, students should get their facts right about it, which is the first tip of this guide.
Cambridge Dictionary has defined the concept of content theft as:
“The process or practice of using another person’s ideas or work and pretending that it is your own” (PLAGIARISM | English meaning – Cambridge Dictionary, 2020).
From this definition, as a student, you can understand that plagiarism mainly occurs when you present someone else’s work, particularly text, as your own. However, understanding this concept is not enough because you must also learn the situations that originate it. So, the following instances are the most common situations that give rise to textual content theft:
- Copying and pasting word-to-word information without using double quotes.
- Wrongly paraphrasing something.
- Forgetting to cite the sources of quoted or paraphrased text.
- Wrongly citing the information.
- Using data from your previous work without proper acknowledgment.
Thus, once you, as a student, have understood the definition and the situations that give rise to plagiarism, you will successfully understand its concept. And if you have, you can move ahead.
- Keep Track of Sources and Cite Them Using Proper Styles
Another major reason for the rise of unintended plagiarism among students is when they forget to cite the data included from an outside source or use the wrong citation styles. So, if you are one of those who need help with proper source citations, this tip is for you.
Students often explore various sources to collect data on their topic. However, exploring multiple sources increases the likelihood of losing track of them. Therefore, while doing that, we recommend adhering to the following suggestions:
- Use a citation manager like EndNote, Mendeley, or Zotero to automatically collect, organize, and format resources.
- Keep track of the visited URLs.
- Create a separate bibliography section or references list to track the sources used.
- Always check the included citations before submission.
Once you, as a student, have implemented these suggestions, you won’t have to face the issue of uncited information in your work. But you must include the references in a proper format. So, here are some of the most popular citation styles, along with their formatting:
Thus, pick the citation style your institute accepts and use it consistently throughout your work.
- Learn the Proper Way to Paraphrase the Content
Like citing the sources, there are some proper ways to use the data from an existing source in your work. And one of those ways is paraphrasing. Library Guides have defined this term in the following way:
“Paraphrasing means ‘to state something written or spoken in different words, especially in a shorter and simpler form to make the meaning clearer’” (Hegarty, 2022).
From this definition, you, as a student, can understand that you can use information from an existing work by restating it in your own words.
But remember, the wording of restated information must be different from the original version while giving the same context. Tips to Identify and Help Students Avoid Unintended Plagiarism if you fail to implement this, your rephrased data will be considered a wrong or poor paraphrasing practice.
So, how can you make sure you paraphrase the information correctly? Well, the answer to this question lies in the implementation of the following suggestions:
- Understand the original text’s meaning thoroughly before trying to restate it.
- Don’t look at the original version while paraphrasing it.
- Use the combination of synonym replacement and sentence restructuring for effective results.
- Cite the sources of original data properly.
- Understand When to Use Quotation Marks
Besides rephrasing, another technique that proves helpful in borrowing text from an existing source is the art of quoting the information. This technique is beneficial when paraphrasing the text modifies its context. So, if you are in such a situation as a student, we recommend using quotation marks.
For instance, you need to ensure you don’t change the wording of text when enclosing it in double quotes. However, you can copy and paste the information as it is in your work. Here is an example that illustrates the implementation of this tip:
As you can see in the above picture, we’ve enclosed the borrowed information in double-quotes. But we’ve also specified the in-text citation and the complete reference of the quoted data in a separate list. So, you need to do the same to eradicate any likelihood of unintended plagiarism completely.
- Use Digital Tools
Undoubtedly, the first tip will guide students in classifying whether something is plagiarized or not. But there is still one more suggestion students must apply in order to complete the identification and avoidance of plagiarism. And that is to take the assistance of digital tools.
Digital tools like a content duplicate checker and remover make identifying and eradicating plagiarism easier. So, let’s understand how an accurate duplicate content detector like the one from Editpad takes assistance from deep search technology and advanced AI algorithms to quickly scan the content of its database and try to find the matches within the entered material. If it finds any matches, it highlights those portions.
So, students can rework the highlighted traces. But if you, as a student, have a lot under your table, eliminating text duplication from your content can be challenging. But don’t worry because plagiarism eradicators are here to save the day.
As a student, you can feed the duplicated portions of your text into a modern-technology-based tool like the one from Plagiarism Remover. Due to being trained on AI algorithms, such a utility will eradicate duplication from your content within a few seconds.
Thus, that’s how students can occasionally use the help of technology to identify and avoid unintended plagiarism from their work.
Identifying unintended or accidental textual content theft can be challenging because it doesn’t occur with one’s intention. But with the proper guidelines, anybody can quickly identify and avoid this type of plagiarism. And that’s precisely what we’ve done in the above discussion.
Thus, whether you, as a student, have any prior knowledge about unintended plagiarism or not, you can use the suggestions discussed in the above guide to identify and avoid it.
Hegarty, N. (2022, Mar 23, 2022). Library Guides: Paraphrasing – an overview: What is Paraphrasing? The Library, TUS Midwest. Retrieved June 20 from https://lit.libguides.com/paraphrasing
PLAGIARISM | English meaning – Cambridge Dictionary. (2020, August 4, 2022). https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/plagiarism