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Filtering by Tag: ways to avoid plagiarism

Knowing how to avoid plagiarism is essential, whether it's writing an academic paper or a blog post. Copying-and-pasting text from the internet can be precarious, but if you know how to correctly navigate three specific areas, you will reduce the risk of being involved with unintentional plagiarism. What are these three areas? Watch this short video to find out what English Professor Renee Nimtz recommends students learn about when it comes to attributing others' work. Watch the short video (2:35 minutes):

3 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism -- Summary, Paraphrase and Quote

There is so much talk about plagiarism these days! But how do you actually avoid plagiarizing? Three ways to save yourself from plagiarizing are summary, paraphrase and quote.

Let’s start with summary.  This is one students are pretty familiar with, but that doesn’t mean it’s so clear cut.

A summary is a condensed version of the original text that highlights the main or key ideas in YOUR own words.  So if you were going to summarize a chapter, it might be a page.  If you were going to summarize a paragraph, it might be a couple of lines.

The second way to avoid plagiarism is with a paraphrase.  A paraphrase is typically the same length as the original text but written in YOUR own words, like a summary. So a paraphrase of a page would be about a page; a paraphrase of a paragraph would be roughly the same length as the original paragraph.  The real trick to paraphrasing is making sure you use your own words and NOT using the words from the original source.

A quote seems so easy because you merely take the original text, put it in quotation marks and put it into your paper.  Well, not so fast.

Students tend to think that they should quote the most in the paper.  And why not? It’s the easiest, and tends to make the paper longer, but by quoting someone, you are saying something about the text.

You are saying that the way the person wrote the text him or herself is so powerful and so impactful that if you were to rewrite it in any way, it would lose it’s impact and value.  If that is not the case, you should summarize or paraphrase it.  You should actually quote the least.

That means that if you put “” marks around text, it better be really powerful language.

So with summary, paraphrase and quote, for which of these do you need a citation?

This is a trick question; they all need a citation.  If you borrow any ideas or language from someone or a text (or a Youtube video), you must include a citation.

A good rule of thumb for summary, paraphrase and quote, is to 1. Introduce the ethos of the author or original text, 2.  include the summary, paraphrase or quote, 3. Cite the original source and 4. Discuss the borrowed material and how it relates to the remainder of your point/paragraph or paper.

Writing with summary, paraphrase and quote is a skill that requires practice and care to get it right, but remember, there are only these three ways to borrow outside sources and each needs a citation.


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Keep It Simple

Many freshmen college students try to use lots of words to say something quite simple. Don’t fall into that trap. Your professor will not be impressed. He or she will simply edit out your fine words. Instead, choose quality words that convey your message in the best way possible. Don’t overuse the Thesaurus! Find the word that is best for the idea and use it. Edgar Allen Poe wrote: “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” This doesn't mean terrify your instructors. Poe was right in that each word has its own reality. Find the right one. Your writing should be as tight as possible. Read over your paper and dissect the words. Can some words be removed? Can some words be exchanged for better ones? A concise, well-worded paper will impress your professor more than a wordy one.

Here is an example:

A: Let me tell you the reasons why I left you there. I had to throw out all of my papers and start over. Now I can't decide whether or not to stay.

B: Let me tell you why I left. I threw out all my papers. Now I can't decide whether to stay.


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