Tricks to Avoiding Accidental Plagiarism

Intentionally copying information from a source and presenting it as your own work is the most well-known type of plagiarism. It is not the only way, however, that plagiarism can be committed. Sometimes plagiarism is the result of accidentally leaving out citations, or by incorrectly paraphrasing. So how can you avoid accidental plagiarism when you’re writing your next paper?

Here are the secrets to making sure that your next assignment is plagiarism free:

Use only your notes when writing your first draft

By relying only on class or reading notes initially, your own perspective on your topic will be top of mind. This process will help prevent you from getting distracted by what other authors have to say on the subject. Simply write out your thoughts and the general structure that you would like your paper to have. You can add supporting evidence and citations once you have firmed up your general points.

Be sure to cite any paraphrased material

There is a common misconception that when you paraphrase, you do not need to include a citation for the referenced material. This is false. Include a citation for paraphrased material at the end of the last sentence that the material is referenced. This will help you remember which sources need to be included in your reference list as well.

Cite sources for your next paper in MLA format, APA, Harvard referencing, or any one of the thousands of citation styles on Cite This For Me.

Remember to remove URLs

In order to keep track of websites that were used in their paper, students sometimes use URLs as a placeholder while writing their drafts. Any important thing to remember when using this method is to remove the URLs when you are done with your paper, and to replace them with actual in-text citations. Forgetting to do this could lead to accusations of plagiarism.

Include a reference for all in-text citations in the reference list

Making in-text citations as you write your paper is a great way to organize your citations within your writing. The key is remembering that each one of these needs to have a counterpart in the reference list at the end of your paper. Think of the in-text citation as a reminder that a reference list entry needs to be made for that source.