Imagine this, you worked hard on your term paper; pulled all-nighters and missed parties just to write the perfect paper, but then your grade doesn’t turn out as expected. Moreover, your professor insists that you plagiarized it. The perfect recipe for a college student nightmare, isn’t it? Fortunately, there are a few ways you can avoid falling victim to plagiarism.

Know What Classifies as Plagiarism

A lot of the times, the main reason a student faces this issue is that they don’t understand what classifies as plagiarism. It’s not just copying and pasting something you find on the internet, but it also includes changing a few sentences, phrases, or words so that you can pass off the work as self-written. In addition, even if you choose to re-submit a work from a previous course, it counts as plagiarism. Check your work now:

Paraphrase Carefully

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to come up with your own theories for a term paper; you’ll need to rely on some resources, nonetheless. Hence, make sure you paraphrase from a source using your own words, synonyms, and sentence structures. If you can’t help but to use more than three of the words from another material in a row, use proper quotation marks.

plagiarism checker

Quote with Caution

When you’re quoting from a source, you need to incorporate a quote exactly the way it appears in the text. Remember, researchers and theorists didn’t spend countless months on a single paper only for college students to misquote them.

However, professors generally frown upon block quoting, i.e., when you quote large chunks of text or over forty words in a row. You need to display effective paraphrasing skills, and although they take time to develop, it’ll pay off in your academic future.

Cite with Detail

Adding citations makes it look like you put in considerable effort into writing your paper and makes a great impression on your professor or instructor. Of course, you can paraphrase research-based evidence that agrees with your opinion, but you need to add citations in the text and form a complete list of references.

In fact, if you received permission from your professor to quote material from a previous paper of yours, cite yourself as well. Add a citation for your own work the same way as you’d treat another researcher’s work. Failure to do so puts you at risk of attempting self-plagiarism, which is also a form of academic dishonesty. If you are tired of the long-term process of preparation for your work, check this article.

Follow Referencing Guidelines

When adding a section for references at the end of your paper, you need to carefully follow the same referencing guidelines that your institution practices. According to APA format for citations, you need to add details, like the author’s name, research journal, article, and year.

Add as much detail that you can for every citation, so that there’s no chance of your work showing up as plagiarized.

Check Your Work

Before turning in your paper, always run it through a plagiarism checker that looks for similarities between your text and articles on the internet. Aside from tools like Grammarly, Copyscape and other reliable resources are an effective way to thoroughly check your work for similarities.

A checker runs your paper’s test through an expansive database comprising not only other research papers available on the internet but student papers as well. This way, it spots if you’re sharing material with someone else, or plagiarizing the previous semester’s work.

Keep Practicing Your Paraphrasing Skills

Most importantly, you need to keep working on your paraphrasing techniques, so you can avoid plagiarism as much as possible, and get a better grade. A great student knows how to inspire their work from reference material rather than copy it, and that’s how you should aspire to develop academically.

Author bio

Stephanie Ward is an academic writer and editor, an expert at writing guides for students.