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Plagiarism has become a burning issue in the modern society. We are all aware of it, but most of us don’t realize how serious it is. In the world where information is abundant, it seems that everything has already been invented and all ideas have already been expressed. That’s why to many of us plagiarism seems like something that we can innocently resort to.
Plagiarism is the most common among students. They surf the Internet in search for the information for the discussion points for a seminar and often copy and paste the information they find.
According to the survey conducted by Rutgers University, which has united over 63 000 students, has shown that 36 % of the students admit copying the information without crediting it, thus making plagiarism rather common in the academic field.
The problem is that many of us don’t understand what exactly is behind the word “plagiarism”. This term is multi-faceted and requires a deeper study.
So for the convenience of our readers, we’ve prepared an informative guide that covers all aspects of plagiarism and how to avoid it.
What is Plagiarism?
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the action verb “plagiarize” in the following way”:
- to steal ideas and pass them further as your own
- to use someone’s ideas without crediting the original source
Plagiarism also refers to a literary theft as it’s often spread in literary circles. Already existing ideas are presented as new, and the original source is not credited. The verb “plagiarize” came from Latin, somewhat preserving its original meaning “to kidnap”.
So is it really possible for ideas to be “kidnapped”? While many people consider plagiarism as an academic issue, it’s actually the act of fraud. When people plagiarize, they basically steal something from others and lie about it.
Any ideas we expressed are viewed as intellectual property, which is protected by copyright laws. So as long as you’ve recorded your thoughts and ideas somewhere, they immediately get protected by copyright laws.
Forms of Plagiarism
While plagiarism exists in many forms, there are actually two basic types of plagiarism that unite all various forms of this type of theft.
Intentional plagiarism speaks for itself: it’s basically theft that you’re aware of and do it on purpose. The following are the most widespread forms of intentional plagiarism.
- Ctrl+C & Ctrl+V. Known as copy&paste, this keyboard command is the most widespread form of the intentional plagiarism. While this command wasn’t originally created for this, it’s often used by the students who are searching for some credible information for the seminar and don’t reference the source.
- Intentional paraphrasing. This is so-called plagiarism of structure. When you paraphrase, you simply substitute the words with their synonyms, avoiding any repetitions and similarities, but making sure that the original idea is preserved. Students often do it when their essay or research paper lacks original ideas and they steal by paraphrasing to introduce something fresh. But paraphrasing doesn’t imply that you now can drop the citations down.
- Self-Plagiarism. This form of plagiarism occurs when people re-introduce one and the same work when the original content is required. The work itself may be plagiarism-free, but the very act of re-using the same paper over and over again is the act of plagiarism. But it doesn’t mean that you cannot refer to your work. It is allowed as long as you cite your previous works correctly.
- Plagiarizing the authorship. Downloading someone else’s work from the Internet is a very widespread form of plagiarism. There are cases when students often delete the name of the author and insert their own. Or they borrow an electronic version of work from their friends and re-introduce it as their own.
- Patch writing. Also known as ‘mosaic plagiarism’ is selling the ideas of others as your own and intentionally avoiding the citations. If you resort to this form of plagiarism, you should be aware that it can easily be checked and you will get severely punished, even if you use footnotes.
This type unites the cases when plagiarism occurs when people aren’t well-informed about proper crediting without breaching the copyright laws. Here are the most common forms of unintentional plagiarism.
- Failing to put correct citations. This often happens to students, who sometimes get confused when creating the list of references for essays and research papers or to quote a certain work in the text. One of the most widespread cases of failed citation is putting a definition without referring to the original source.
- Failing to put a reference to paraphrased information. To some students, it may be obvious that it’s not necessary to cite the source if you’re not using the quotation marks. But paraphrasing the information doesn’t turn it into something original.
Compared to intentional paraphrasing, unintentional paraphrasing often occurs when we get under the influence of other authors. This usually happens to the bloggers who try to create original content, but inevitably get influenced by other bloggers’ ideas and unintentionally mention them while creating their own content.
- Citing the ideas which have already been stolen from someone else. The Internet is overflown with so much information that sometimes it’s quite hard to track the original authors. And often it happens that we try to be fair and cite the work that has already been stolen. This often happens to the students that don’t know the difference between credible and non-credible online sources.
Guidelines to Avoid Plagiarism
There are lots of tools to help you check your work for plagiarism, the best of which we’ve listed below. But using these tools isn’t always enough to avoid plagiarism. It actually requires a lot of self-work to introduce your ideas without accidentally plagiarizing someone. Here are 7 steps you can follow that will help you learn how to avoid plagiarism.
- Learn about the field you’re writing about. After realizing what hides behind the plagiarism, you’ll understand that in order to write a plagiarism-free work you need to be well aware of the field you’re writing about. Get to know the most famous academicians and scientists of this field, the ideas they’ve introduced. Being well-informed is the first step to avoiding plagiarism.
- Cite and quote, and then double-check. There’s a short list of things that you don’t need to cite, but in other cases, you need to use references. After you’ve cited all works, double check all quotes and citations. If you miss at least, it will immediately put your work in jeopardy.
- Give credit when paraphrasing. As you already know, paraphrasing doesn’t mean avoiding paying respects to the author of the idea. When paraphrasing, say “John B. Watson claimed that methodological behaviorism is based on measured and observable behaviors” The ideas you’re talking about have probably been introduced earlier. So don’t forget to mention the author.
- Cite your own ideas. If you’ve introduced some ideas to the academic world in your earlier works, you need to cite them properly, as you cite other authors. Otherwise, it falls under the case of self-plagiarism.
- Don’t forget about the Internet sources. Sources from the Internet also need to be cited properly. Many academic papers are published in online scientific magazines and periodicals. But they still fall under the protection of copyright laws, thus it must be cited.
Tools to Avoid Plagiarism
- Grammarly: this tools doesn’t only help the grammar in your work be flawless, but also has anti-plagiarism tools.
- Unicheck: formerly known as Unplag, this online tool is a must-use for everybody who works with texts and creates original content. You simply insert the written content in the special field on their web-page, and Unicheck compares your content with over 16 billion pages on Bing and Google.
- PlagScan: this online plagiarism checker is very easy to use. It is designed for education as well as for business. It allows you to upload pdf. and docx. files. All you need is to sign up and download the file. This tool also provides you with a detailed plagiarism report.
- PlagTracker: this is one of the most accurate plagiarism checking services. It proved you with a detailed report and comments on the section of the text where plagiarism is detected. It’s free, easy and great to use.
- Plagium: insert written content and get your plagiarism report in several seconds. The great feature of this online plagiarism checking tools is that it compares your content to posts on social media as well.
Additional Plagiarism Guides
In case you need more information about plagiarism, you can also visit these online plagiarism guides. They provide examples of plagiarism as well as the ways how to put citations and references correctly and will help you better learn how not to plagiarize.
- University of Oxford: Guidelines on Plagiarism: web-page with basic questions and answers about plagiarism.
- Research Guides (University of Michigan): web-page with all necessary information about plagiarism and opinions of students regarding this issue.
- Citation rules and avoiding plagiarism (UCLA): guide on proper citing and referencing as well as tips on how to avoid plagiarism.
- Rules of using sources (Harvard University): detailed information about the forms of plagiarism, the list of sources that must be and mustn’t be cited and a guide how to avoid plagiarism.
- Avoiding Plagiarism (University of Queensland): explanation of the importance of academic integrity and a simple guide how to cite correctly.
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While grammar is something we learn in the early years of our education, there are so many rules and regulations when it comes to grammar, we can’t know them all by heart. If you’re a writer or simply have to write something on certain occasions, you might want to reach for a grammar guide, to make sure that your writing is on point. And since there are so many aspects to grammar, there is more than one kind of a grammar guide, to make the process of learning and checking grammar faster and easier.
Thankfully there’s a large variety of grammar guides that are available to lead us through our writing process. Below you’ll find a helpful list of resources that will help you through your journey with grammar.
Thesauruses and Dictionaries
Dictionaries are crucial for knowing the meanings of each word, and for better understanding of each word. Thesauruses, however, can be considered as additional information about words, with synonyms, antonyms, idioms and phrases included.
This thesaurus consists of more than 500,000 words and their synonyms, phrases, meanings and antonyms and it’s easily accessible from anywhere. Whether you’re on your phone or on your laptop, you’ll quickly be able to find any synonym, word or phrase you need.
The Merriam Webster Thesaurus is equally popular among native speakers and non-native speakers of the English language and includes more than 275,000 of synonyms, antonyms and idioms. You can also track down definitions of each word, and learn how to use language more effectively; therefore, it can also be referred to as a writing guide.
Because British and American English differ in spelling and grammar, you need to turn to a comprehensive dictionary like this one that has all the differences listed in one place. It’s one of the best dictionaries out there for both American and British words.
If you need a dictionary and thesaurus in one, this is the ideal website for you. While you can get easy access to all the word definitions, you also get suggestions about the synonyms and antonyms of each word listed in the dictionary.
Visit dictionary.com if you want word definitions that are made by analyzing a variety of online definitions. It also has a blog that explains grammar and spelling issues more thoroughly, so if you’re looking for an explanation along with the meaning, this is the number on stop.
Grammar myths are what we call grammar rules that once used to mean something, and now they are completely irrelevant. Grammar changes through time, and yet so many people don’t know which grammar rules they should stick to, and which ones they should discard immediately. Here are a couple of useful guides that give you insight into the rules of modern grammar.
This page contains all the most common grammar misconceptions that everyone tells you are still valid grammar rules that you should listen to. Well, now you don’t have to, because you have a guide that will help you identify stale grammar rules and how to deal with them in the present.
Grammar Girl is one of the most popular and fun takes on grammar. This blog covers grammar in a fun way and focuses on explaining which grammar rules are in and which grammar rules are out. It’s especially popular with student, and all those who want to learn about grammar and still have fun at the same time.
This handy PDF lists all the grammar rules that are no longer important. It comes with explanations of what each rule used to refer to, and why it isn’t considered a grammar rule anymore. It also comes with a few examples of how it is used now.
Want to know quickly what grammar myths are and which ones are the common ones? Grammarphobia will give you that information so that you no longer fret about old grammar rules that are no longer important.
If you want to learn which grammar rules aren’t valid any more, but also go in-depth as to why these grammar rules aren’t important anymore, visit this small guide. It’s especially attractive to those who like to know all the detailed information.
Turn to grammar usage guides if you are frequently puzzled by the use of certain words, their meaning, spelling or place in a sentence.
Although it requires a purchase or a subscription, the Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style is concise and precise in providing hundreds of answers to the most common usage problems. It’s supported with examples from top-tier publications.
If you’re confused with words that have the same spelling or are pronounced the same, but have a different meaning, this short guide will explain when each of these words is used, why and how you should use it.
Washington State University has an excellent section dedicated to the most common errors when it comes to usage. It explains, to the very last detail and comes with amusing explanations and examples.
This is yet another guide that focuses on confusing words, their meaning and how they should be properly used. You want to know when to write ‘their’ or ‘there’ or ‘it’s’ and ‘its’. It’s hosted by bartleby.com.
This guide consists of a thorough analysis of both American and British English, and offers clear guidance and points for using English the right way. Everything can be easily accessed, and each rule is exemplified with examples from newspapers, journals and books.
Classic Style Guides
There are numerous style guides out there, and it all depends on what you’re looking for and who you are writing for. There are basic style guides, as well as style guides for business writers, scientific writing style guides and so much more. Here are some of the most famous ones that are usually used or referenced.
This is one style guide that you cannot miss online, and it’s a time-tested guide to style, but also grammar and usage. It basically has everything you need, and then some more, like reference for proofreaders, writers, designers etc.
While it can easily constitute as a neat grammar handbook, it’s mostly focused on giving you knowledge and tips on how to write more clearly and style your writing properly so that it’s easily readable.
This guide comes in a PDF form, and it’s written by a BBC reporter and editor with 40 years of experience in writing. Instead of focusing on all the do’s and don’ts like most guides do, it encourages you to dive deeper into the complexities of English usage and explore its possibilities.
This manual is consistently updated by editors, and it has been existent since 1995. Everything is alphabetically arranged and easy to locate, and it is a guide to “preferred National Geographic Society style and usage.”
This PDF document is a guide written by the staff, on behalf of the Oxford University and it aims to guide you through your writing and formatting process. You can easily search for specific items that you’re interested in, or scroll through each section and soak it all in.
English for Non-Native Speakers
Although native speakers and non-native speakers can use the same dictionary, if you’re a beginner, and English isn’t your native language, you’re going to find the English grammar book too complex. Here are some resources that are easy to understand, with plenty of information packed in, so that you improve your English grammar easily.
Non-native speakers often get confused in writing, and this handy guide covers all common writing problems and gives in-depth explanations about each issue and how to solve it.
This concise guide is broken down into categories, and enables you to easily find what you’re looking for. Every grammar rule is explained and exemplified.
This free service enables you to ask any grammar questions and get the right answers. If you’re a non-native speaker, you can also interact with other users and answer their questions as well.
This resource is well-known among students, and it focuses on explaining each part of speech to the last detail, which is ideal for non-native speakers. It also offers grammar exercises, and introduces the reader to writing concepts.
The Capital Community College Foundation created this extensive grammar and writing guide that is perfect for all non-native speakers. There are plenty of materials that you can use for learning, and not just grammar. Although the primary focus is on grammar, you can also teach yourself the basic concepts of writing.
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When you are an aspiring writer or a student, the process of research can be very beneficial. It will allow you to explore and fire up your imagination like never before. But sometimes we get too absorbed in the preparation process so we tend to procrastinate writing the piece itself.
Perhaps you are too intimidated by the work ahead so you romanticize the research and get stuck in the loop? Or you have no idea where to begin? If you prolong the study of the collected materials, you will likely end up with too much information that might take over your entire work. So when is the right time to end your research and actually start writing?
Evaluate the information
So let’s say that you are deep into your research and clicking on every link available. After some time, the information you already collected will start merging together and you will not learn anything new. This is the right time to stop and take a step back. Start by asking yourself if a text is worth reading, is the source credible, and would it be useful to you later on. And always remember that you can bookmark something and return to it when needed.
When uncertain, use gaps
If you are still not confident enough to finish your research, you can use gaps in your text and fill them out later. This is the best way to break the plateau and start writing without finishing the research process itself. You will be productive, complete your daily goal, and fill out the blank spaces once you are done. This is especially useful for academic students because you will not miss your deadline and have correct information in your paper at the end. But don’t forget to write down your sources because they will be easier to find once you start revising your paper.
Under deadline pressure
Whether you are stressing about the approaching deadline or the launch of your blog, you need to relax and focus on the work you have in the present. Thinking about the future events and diving deep into the research without writing a single word will not get you out of your comfort zone. So take it slowly and go easy. You have probably created an outline of your project so go one step at a time. If the deadline is just around the corner, you will not produce excellent or outstanding work if you are in a constant state of dread.
Create a schedule
If you are working on a fictional piece, the chances are you will have to combine writing with the research. The best way to do so is by creating a schedule which will limit the time you spend on exploring different locations or character traits. Therefore, you will not be tempted to go into the procrastination mode. An hour a day will be enough if you are not a full-time writer with set deadlines. Once the time is up, start writing your story. And make sure you remove any distractions such as social media during your creative time because you are supposed to immerse yourself in the process without constantly checking your feed for updates.
Research can be tiresome and after you spend hours and hours staring at a screen, you will probably feel sleepy and not fit for writing a single word. This is your brain telling you that it is time to stop researching and move away from your computer. Get some rest, sort out your ideas while drinking a hot beverage in the morning, and try to write afterward. Your brain will function better after you catch some z’s and your creativity will peak in the early hours of the day. Plus, a couple of hours of sleep might even help you come up with fresh ideas you will be able to use later in your story.
Freewriting is a technique that might be the perfect transition between the research and actual writing. You can use it to break the ice and get rid of the fear of starting. Simply listen to the flow of ideas swirling through your head and write them down as they are. Don’t pay attention to grammar or spelling because the goal is to get some of your thoughts and information you have gathered written on a piece of paper. This will get you moving in the right direction and you will be able to determine if you are ready for the real work. If you feel like continuing, sit in front of your computer and start typing.
Create an outline
Making a brief outline right after you complete the research is crucial. It will help you gather up the collected information and allow you to have a better overview of the work you have ahead. You can either use bullet points or focus on the most important parts of an essay, depending on the type of text you are writing. An outline will make you stay on track and allow you to create a useful writing schedule that will improve your productivity. It can also pinpoint the parts you have to work on more or revise with fresh ideas.
Each writer has a different research method – some like to travel to foreign lands while others will view different destinations from the comfort of their homes and collect as much information as possible in their notebooks. But is there a right time to stop and start writing? Research might seem like a never ending task so the best thing you can do is dive into the work and fact check as you go.
Combining these two activities might seem impossible but it will get you into the mood for writing which is great if you have a deadline. Of course, don’t even attempt to start writing before you do your research because you will very likely get lost and discouraged. So good preparation is crucial in this situation but try not to overthink it and start procrastinating.
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