Plagiarism can be very harmful in academic content. If a student is found to be plagiarizing content in their essays or assignments, they can get severely punished for it. Some institutes go as far as expelling the culprit.
Similarly, if plagiarism is found in a professional’s research paper or thesis, it can damage their reputation and ruin the credibility of their work.
Any person who is aware of the consequences of plagiarism will obviously not go picking content from other sources.
But the worst part is that duplication can come in your writing even if you have no intention of deliberately copying anything from a source.
In this post, we are going to be looking at 5 tips that can help you come up with unique and plagiarism-free academic content.
1. Don’t Take Information from a Single Source
Research is more or less half of the actual work when it comes to academic writing.
However, a common but fatal mistake that you can make during the research phase is to only use a single source for taking information.
When you’ll base your research on a single source, there are a lot of chances that you could accidentally and unknowingly copy something word-for-word…which will be recognized as plagiarism.
So, the first tip that you should keep in mind to come up with unique content is to diversify and spread out your research.
Choose different websites, journals, books, and research papers for taking information. That way, you won’t unintentionally start copying the source, and you’ll be able to keep your work unique.
2. Use Plagiarism Checkers
As we said in the beginning, plagiarism can come in your writing even if you don’t deliberately copy anything from a source.
So, even if you take care to spread out your research and even if you try your best to keep your content unique, there are some chances that you could get some accidental duplication in it.
And to remove this type of duplication, the only solution is to use an online plagiarism checker.
By using a plagiarism checker, you will be able to see the exact bits of plagiarized text in your content. Most checkers provide you with the exact matched source URLs as well.
One thing to keep in mind when using plagiarism checkers is that, sometimes, you can get different results on the same piece of content.
In other words, a plagiarism checker could point out different phrases and sentences when you use it for the first time, and then different phrases and sentences when you use it for the second time.
Hence, it is advisable to check the same content multiple times just to make sure that there remain no traces of plagiarism in it whatsoever.
3. Get Familiar with Citations and References
If you ever want to mention some facts and figures in your content without worrying about them being marked as plagiarism, you can use citations and references.
Once you add a citation, you’re officially acknowledging the original author…which means that you are not technically plagiarizing anything anymore.
And just to be clear, citations and references are two different things. The citation is what you add within the main body of your content whereas the reference is the full set of details given at the end of the paper.
For example, this is the citation:
Whereas this is the reference:
Doe, John. (1212-12-12.) Republic of Felines. Retrieved from Meow.com
There are different citation styles and formats e.g., APA, MLA, etc. The required format can vary from institute to institute, so be sure to use the one that you’re told to.
As for coming up with citations and references, you can use online citation generators to create them easily.
Just as adding citations stops your content from being recognized as plagiarism, quotation marks do the same thing.
When you place any sentence or phrase in quotation marks, then it means that you are acknowledging that you have taken them from a source.
Hence, it won’t be recognized as plagiarism by any institution.
When you want to use a tool to check for plagiarism after you’re done writing, you can select the option that allows you to ‘Exclude Quotes’ from the scan.
However, one thing that you should keep in mind is that using quotes is only good for a couple of sentences or phrases. You can go a bit bigger and include a whole paragraph as well.
But, using quotations is not a license for you to start copy-pasting content directly from a source.
You can use them only if you need to use a piece of text from another source without changing the words and sentence structures.
5. Do Proper Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing, when done poorly, will still be recognized as plagiarism. Poor paraphrasing is the one in which only a few words are replaced, and the overall look of the content remains the same.
On the other hand, properly paraphrased content has a thoroughly changed look than the original. Most of the words are replaced, and the sentences are shuffled around so that there is no resemblance between it and the original text.
There are two ways in which you can properly paraphrase any text for using it in your academic content. You can either do it manually, or you can use a tool instead.
Using tools is generally discouraged since they tend to mess up the context of the entered text, and change the whole meaning. However, if you can find one that simply replaces the words and alters the sentence structures, you can go ahead and use it by all means.
Plagiarism can be very harmful in academic content. Students and professionals can face severe consequences if their work is found to be plagiarized.
In this post, we looked at 5 tips that you can follow to write unique and plagiarism-free content.
To put it briefly, all you need to do is spread out your research on multiple sources rather than just one. Then, you should use citations, references, and quotation marks where necessary.
You can also do some paraphrasing if you ever want to use any ideas or concepts from a source using different words.
And last but not least, you should always use a plagiarism checker before turning your work in to make sure that there is no duplication in it.