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How to Avoid Plagiarism


In March 2016, an international student had his visa cancelled after being found guilty of plagiarism by his educational institution.

In Australia, plagiarism is a serious offence that falls under the category of ‘academic dishonesty’.

At his appeal, the student argued his institution didn’t inform him about the consequences of plagiarism, saying, ‘Not a single assessor of mine had advised me of any situation involving plagiarism’, The Australian reported.

The ability of educational institutions to detect plagiarism is also becoming more sophisticated. The University of Melbourne has recently begun trialling software that can analyse the writer’s keystroke patterns.

Most students don’t actually intend to plagiarise but do so accidentally.

Here’s what you should do to avoid any unintentional plagiarism.

1. Know exactly what plagiarism is


[mass noun] The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.

‘there were accusations of plagiarism’

[Oxford English Dictionary Online, 2016]


At its essence, plagiarism is using someone else words or ideas and not acknowledging them as the author.  Quoting or paraphrasing is not plagiarism as long as you make it very clear who the original author is and where they said it.  We recommend reading Harvard University’s excellent guide to what constitutes plagiarism if you want to know more.

2. Know your ‘referencing style’

A referencing style is a set of guidelines for how you write out citations in text, and at the end of your paper. It’s crucial that you know the referencing style you’re expected to use and that you follow it exactly. There are many different kinds of referencing styles.

For instance, a Harvard Style citation looks like this:

Cottle, S. (1993) TV News, Urban Conflict, and the Inner City. New York: Leicester University Press.

There are many more referencing styles. You might also have heard of APA, MLA, or Chicago style before.

Your institution, faculty or individual teacher may specify which of these systems they want you to use. You can download Referencing Style Guides from your institution or use a reference style generator.

If in doubt as to which one to use– ask your teacher.
Read More: Get the Most Out of Your Degree

3. Use plagiarism checking software

An easy and effective way to make sure you haven’t committed plagiarism is to run your paper through software designed to check for it.

Some of the most popular ones are:

4. Reference as you work

Plagiarism happens most often when students get jumbled up during the writing process and forget where they’ve taken a quote from. Always note down the author’s name and the page number of any quotes or ideas you want to use as you write so that you have a record of where they came from later.

Happy essay writing!

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