7 Tips to Write a Plagiarism-Free Essay: Plagiarism can be easily and unwittingly committed in academic content like essays and assignments since there is a lot of research to be done. During the research phase, the material read from different sources can get fixed in your mind and you can unintentionally write it as it is in your own work.
To avoid this sort of situation (and other similar ones that can have the same consequences), you have to be careful during the research, writing, and optimization phases. There are different steps that you can take to make sure that your final write-up stays completely free from plagiarism.
In this post, we’re going to be looking at some of those.
7 Tips and Tricks for Avoiding Plagiarism in Your Essays
Without further ado, let’s get straight to discussing the tips.
1. Expand and Broaden Your Research
One possible reason that your content is showing up as partially plagiarized is narrow research.
During the research phase, if you only take your information from a single source, you can inadvertently start to copy it. Even if you don’t intend to nab off a couple of sentences from the source deliberately, you can still end up doing it due to short-term memory retention.
That sounds like something complex…but it’s really not.
Short-term memory retention basically refers to the stuff that you remember for a short and limited period of time…after which it is forgotten. This can happen with the exact words and phrases that you read while doing research. You can remember them very accurately for a couple of minutes (or even up to an hour…depending on who you are).
If you start writing your essay during this time, there are a lot of chances that you could start plagiarizing your source.
So, the solution? Don’t pick one source. Expand your research and include as many sources as you easily and comfortably can. This way, you won’t accidentally start mimicking any particular one of them, and this will help in closing one avenue of unintentional plagiarism.
2. Don’t Write Instantly After Doing Your Research
When you want to start writing your essay, don’t do it immediately after completing your research. We did sort of touch on this in the heading above, but there, our focus was on increasing the number of sources instead of waiting after the research.
The benefit of doing this is the same as expanding your research i.e., the stuff that we mentioned in the heading above. In other words, by taking a break between the researching and writing phase, you can forget the exact words and phrases used by the sources.
This can help you avoid accidental plagiarism…which is something that you can easily commit if you do your research/writing simultaneously, or if you start writing instantly after the research.
3. Don’t Copy-Paste Directly
Mentioning this tip here is like saying “If you don’t want to slip, don’t walk on the slippery ice.” We mean…it’s obvious. If you copy-paste your content, you’ll be committing plagiarism. Period.
However, the reason that we’re talking about this tip is to clear up any confusions that you may have regarding what counts as plagiarism and what does not.
Some people may think that copy-pasting a small sentence (i.e., 5 – 6 words) is acceptable. Others may think that copy-pasting the content directly, and then interlacing it with original content can save them from plagiarism penalties.
But, both instances are wrong. You cannot copy-paste even a small sentence from a source, and you cannot interlace copied content with your original material. The latter actually amounts to mosaic plagiarism.
Small sentences, even the ones that are 5 – 6 words long, can count as plagiarized if they are unique and specific. For example, the sentence “To know more about us, click here…” is not going to get spotted as plagiarized since there are probably millions of websites using it. On the other hand, the sentence “…you cannot interlace copied content…” will be more likely to show up as plagiarized since it is somewhat unique and different.
4. Cite Your Sources
If you want to use some content from a source without drastically altering it or without reshaping it in your own words, then you have to use citations.
A citation is a literary doff of the cap and a nod of the head. When using a citation, you basically make over the credit of the mentioned facts/figures to a specific source. This source can be a book, website, article, research paper, etc.
Plagiarism is basically defined as the process of taking someone’s content without crediting them. Once you take care of the latter, it doesn’t remain plagiarism anymore.
There are different types of citation formats, some of which include:
When using a citation, be sure to pick the format as instructed by your institute.
5. Quote Where Necessary
Although citations are a good fit for situations where you have to take some material from a source, there can be some cases where the exact words have to be used verbatim.
In these scenarios, using quotation marks can be a good alternative.
The text that is found in between quotation marks is automatically assumed to be the words of some other person. It is an easy way to acknowledge and accredit a source without having to create a whole citation by adding the source’s details, date of retrieval, name of the author, and so on.
However, just as every other technique that we’re discussing in this post is ruled by some regulations, so too is the situation with quoting. If you want to add some quotes to your essay, you can’t go overboard and just start doing it after every other couple of sentences of your own. They have to be used sparingly.
6. Use a Plagiarism Checker to Find Duplication
One point that you have to keep in mind about creating a plagiarism-free essay is that you won’t really know if it is unique or not until you finish. There’s no method that you can employ to spontaneously realize it if you commit any accidental plagiarism. You have to run a check after you’re done with the essay.
And for that, a free plagiarism checker is an ideal solution. Plagiarism-checking software exists in abundance online, but using a free one is recommended since it can also provide accurate results without requiring you to purchase a paid plan. You do have to deal with ads and captchas when using these types of tools, but it’s worth it.
So, coming back to the point, once you use a free plagiarism checker on your essay, you will be able to find out if you’ve accidentally copied an online source. Assuming that you have done so, you can simply take the required measures to fix it.
7. Paraphrase Where Required
Paraphrasing is the practice of rewording a piece of content by changing the words and phrases (and by shuffling the sentence structures). A paraphrased part of text looks different but it conveys the same meaning as its original form.
This technique can be useful if you want to get rid of plagiarism in your essay. You can basically paraphrase your content after following the last step i.e. checking for plagiarism. If there is any plagiarism in your content, you can paraphrase that particular part and make it unique.
Paraphrasing can be done with the help of an online tool if the manual method seems too arduous or long-drawn. Using an online tool can be convenient since it can complete the whole process in a matter of seconds and provide the results quickly.
Writing an essay with zero plagiarism is not a very difficult task, provided that you’re careful about not committing it accidentally. You just have to make sure that you expand your research so that you don’t inadvertently mimic your sources.
And if despite taking care, there is still some plagiarism in your work (that you can find using a plagiarism checking tool), you can take care of it by paraphrasing, quoting, or adding citations.