Five steps to avoid plagiarism in your academic work

Being original, while writing an academic report, is essential. Failure to do so may lead to serious consequences like expulsion from college, rejection of report, monetary fine, legal action, etc. If you are found guilty of plagiarism, your academic career might be devastated. If you are a little cautious, you can easily steer clear of plagiarism. Here are some important measures that will ensure that your report is authentic:


Many scholars have the misconception that for paraphrasing matter from any source, they simply need to alter a few words here and there. Even if you change every third word, your report can be charged with plagiarism if you fail to mention the source. To paraphrase correctly, you must go through the matter, grasp the idea and summarize it in your own words.


Whenever you are using some content, even a few lines, from any source verbatim, then you have to use quotation marks. Citation for such quotes has to be provided correctly. Two essential factors to remember are: a) quote the matter with 100% accuracy, in the same manner in which it appears in the source; b) avoid using quotes that are more than longer than 40 words. Also, follow the relevant guidelines for indentation while using quotes.


You must also include a list of all references that you have used throughout the report at the end. This list will include name of source and author/s, date of publication, chapter name or title of article, etc.


Citation for all the material that you are using has to be given as per the style that you are supposed to follow. There are various citation styles like APA, MLA, Harvard, ACS, AMA, etc. While citing, provide the page number and title, apart from name of book/ journal and author’s name. Also, there are various rules for citing different sources like magazines, electronic media and websites. Follow all such rules precisely.

Citing your own work

Self citation is as important as citing someone else’s work. You cannot use the content of one report for another one, though both are written by you. You must use quotation marks and citations for such matter as well, otherwise it can be considered self plagiarism.

By following these tenets, you will ensure that there is not a trace of copied content in your report, and that you use other authors’ works ethically.

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