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Avoiding Plagiarism
Author: Sydney Bauer

This lesson goes over how to avoid unintentional plagiarism.

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Formalists second the opinion that it is the violation of pre-established expectations that wakens the listener to the message.
Plagiarism avoided:
Formalists second the opinion that “it is the violation of pre-established expectations that wakens the listener to the message” (Esslin 446). 
It is a good idea to have strategies that help you avoid committing both intentional and unintentional plagiarism.
Remember that unintentional plagiarism is either when the student is unaware of what it really means to plagiarize in his or her writing, or when the student has not kept careful track in his or her research notes regarding what is paraphrased, quoted, summarized material and what is his or her own ideas.
To avoid unintentional plagiarism
  • Be sure that you are clear on the definition of plagiarism.
    • Plagiarism is when you claim someone else’s words, phrasing, or ideas as your own, and do not give credit to the original source.
  • Keep carefully organized notes that document the source of the information, along with all of its publication information.
  • When you take notes, make sure that about 75-80% of what you write down is a summary of the source’s information that is made up of your own words. It is okay to collect quotes and paraphrase in your notes, but it is best to rely on summary to avoid plagiarism.
  • When you take notes, make sure that you label whether the information is summarized, paraphrased, or quoted. Next to summarized material, note the source. Next to quoted and paraphrased material, note the source as well as the page number, and a few words on the context, where the noted information appears in the progression of ideas within the source.
  • Some students take the necessary precautions during the research process, but fail to give credit for sources cited in footnotes, endnotes, or in-text citations.
    • To avoid these mistakes, reserve some time during the revision and editing process to specifically look over your quotes, footnotes, and endnotes. Double check that each piece of quoted information has quotation marks around it and a citation. Double check that each piece of noted information has a citation. (For specific citation formatting, check APA, MLA, and CMS style guides). Most in-text or noted citations will require that author’s last name and either the title of the work, the date of publication, or a page number.
To avoid resorting to intentional plagiarism
  • Plan the writing process ahead of time. Estimate the time it will take you to research your topic, digest the information, plan your paper, write the draft, and complete the revision process before the assignment’s deadline. When you have enough time to give the assignment your best efforts, you’ll be less likely to rely on the ideas of others or purchase a paper from someone else and claim it as your own.
  • When you are researching your topic, try to be as thorough as time allows. Although you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too much information, you will want to be knowledgeable on your topic. The more you know and understand about your topic, the easier it will be to synthesize (or digest) the information and the less tempting it will be to rely on someone else’s words or ideas.

Avoiding Plagiarism