A Guide to Avoid Plagiarism When following the Harvard Referencing System

  • First and foremost, you need to have a thorough understanding of what we mean when we talk about Plagiarism. Plagiarism in very simple words is an act of fraud, in which one steals someone else’s original work and claims it as their own. There are various kinds of plagiarisms such as
  1. Direct Plagiarism: Using someone else’s ideas without giving proper credit or citation.
  2. Accidental Plagiarism: Unintentional failure to cite sources, not realizing that work is paraphrased or forgetting to cite for the same.
  3. Mosaic Plagiarism: Adding someone else’s work to your write up without using quotation marks or stealing their original ideas and simply using your own text for them.
  4. Self-Plagiarism: Taking excerpts from your own previous work and adding them to your current paper without using citations.

Hence, one needs to be extremely careful to add relevant citations so they can successfully avoid plagiarism in their work.

  • Use multiple sources: It has been observed that a researcher is much more prone to copy exact ideas and sentences if he or she uses lesser number and similar kind of sources.It is therefore always better to use a large number of sources of different kinds for your work so that in an attempt to blend them all together, you make use of your own creativity and language.
  • Create a rough draft or an outline: This is one tip you will repeatedly get. However nobody states the relevance attached to it. Creating a rough outline or a draft of your research paper beforehand will enable you to use more of your thoughts and language into the same. It will not only give structure to your paper, but it will help you strengthen your own ideas with the help of other researchers’ works.

Use Citations: While using excerpts from other people’s work, in the Harvarrd Referencing system, you must use the following Citation format such that they do not cause plagiarism in your work.

  • Standard reference format:
  1. For a book : Author(s) family name, Initial(s) Year of publication, Title, Publisher, Place of publication.
  2. For a website: Author / the person or organization responsible for the site, Site date (the year the site was created or last revised), Name of the sponsor of the source, URL, Date of viewing the source
  3. For a Journal Article: Author(s) family name, Initial(s) Year of publication, Article Title, Journal Title, Edition, Pages
  • Know where to avoid citations: A research paper that has only citations from everywhere will simply look like a terrible mishmash of ideas, findings and observations.   You need to know the cases where you must not provide any reference or citation for what you write. These are cases of ‘Common Knowledge’

                          Common knowledge is typically of two kinds:

  1. General Common Knowledge: This includes facts and figures that lie in public domain such as dates of events in history, famous people and their birth and death, historical facts etc. This is information that need not be cited for since it is already common to all.
  2. Field Specific Common Knowledge: This is a more specific kind of knowledge, which is however common to people belonging to a particular field. You need not provide any citation for such knowledge.For instance a research paper on quantum physics will not need any reference for the age old formula
    “E = MC2 “
  • Paraphrasing: A lot of researchers have the habit of copying ideas from fellow researchers’ works and then putting it into their own words, which is fine as long as you give necessary credit to the original researcher for his or her own ideas. This practice is called paraphrasing which also amounts to plagiarized content. You must therefore ensure that if you use original ideas of another researcher, even if you do not directly quote his lines, you must insert the required citation for the same.
  • Don’t save citation work for the end: This is one tip that goes without saying. If you leave your citation work for the end, then there are chances you wouldn’t be able to complete them in entirety. You might leave out on a few pieces of information here and there which remain uncited and later become the plagiarized content of your work.
  • Start early: You must allot ample amount of time from your schedule to a research paper. The reason is that it might look easy and quick at face value, but the entire process of generating original ideas and combining them with previous research, while taking care of jargon, language, technicalities and citations can take a lot of time. Being in a rush to complete your paper will lead you to copying previous works and forgetting to add necessary citations.
  • Use original ideas: Lastly, a research paper without any value, ideas or fresh content by the writer or researcher is not really of any noteworthiness. You need to establish the fact that your research paper should represent your ideas and your perspective, which must be strengthened by other scholars’ research.

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