It's important for writers to be knowledgeable about the various ways to avoid plagiarism. This is true for everyone who engages in writing, including students who engage in creative or research paper writing to professionals who write books or create content for online or print publications.
Basic Ways to Avoid Plagiarism
While some people plagiarize the work of others intentionally, often plagiarism occurs unintentionally. It's important to be aware of the steps that should be taken to ensure that this problem does not occur in your own writing so that you do not find yourself in the unfortunate situation of dealing with the consequences of improperly using work or material that belongs to someone else.
Use Your Own Words and Ideas
Avoiding the use of other people's words, sentence structure, and ideas in work that will be turned in as your own is one of the most basic ways to avoid plagiarism. While it's certainly acceptable to conduct research when you are engaged in an academic or professional writing project, it's not all right to put your own name on something that other people have created. This includes using exact wording from someone else's work without proper citation, as well as too closely paraphrasing what other writers have written without interjecting your own original angle, ideas, and concepts to the material.
Research is an important part of the writing process, but can also lead to plagiarism issues. When you are engaged in research, your objective should be to learn relevant facts and opinions about the subject matter that you will be writing about as a way to educate yourself about the topic and as a source of inspiration. However, when you take language, concepts, and angles from work that has already been created, what you are referring to as research may begin cross the line into plagiarism.
Proper Citation of Quotations
If you need to quote someone else's words in your own writing, be certain that you properly cite the original source of the information. Direct quotes should be placed in quotation marks with proper attribution to the original author and the publication where his or her words appeared. In some cases, it's best to attribute quotations within the text itself, while footnotes and endnotes are the proper procedure in others. The technique necessary will vary based on the type of writing you are doing and the nature of the project you are working on. Your instructor or editor can provide you with guidance regarding the proper format for citing original authors in your work.
The use of direct quotes should be very limited to ensure that you are not violating copyright laws or going beyond what's acceptable in terms of fair usage. Quotes should be used sparingly, to introduce difficult concepts or to provide support for the point you are trying to get across. If the piece that you are writing ends up being a string of quotations of what other people have said rather than something that you have created that reflects new and creative information, there's a good chance that what you have put together may reflect examples of both plagiarism and poor writing. After all, if all you are doing is stringing together what has already been written, how is your work beneficial to the reader?
Understanding he Importance of Avoiding Plagiarism
Plagiarism is a serious problem for students and professional writers and editors alike. It poses both ethical and legal problems that should be avoided at all costs. From an ethical perspective, it is simply not right to take credit for work that is not yours. Legally, plagiarism represents a violation of copyright laws and can result in criminal prosecution, loss of employment for professional writers, and failing grades or expulsion from school for students.