Every time you enter a classroom, you expect to have to write papers. As we get older, and have to work in a professional setting, we are still going to have to write. When it comes down to it, we are never going to have a class or a job where we are not going to have to write something. As college students, we are going to have to do many papers that are research-based, making it simple to accidentally plagiarize.
Professors begin to get a little repetitive when stating that plagiarism can be cause for failure of the course, but they tell us that so many times because we do not realize how easy it is. Here are three ways to avoid accidental plagiarism.
1. Take your time when preparing your paper.
When you rush to write a whole paper in one night, you begin to do careless things, such as forgetting to add quotation marks or adding citations where they do not belong. This is very easy to do when you are rushing to finish a paper. Even when you do not rush to get your paper done, it is still easy to forget a citation; however, if you miss one, your professor is not going to fail you for that one small mistake. Start your paper, or at least brainstorm ideas, and get sources for your paper whenever it gets assigned. If you give yourself time to do the paper well, you will also have time to make sure you have the documentation done, and done correctly.
2. Utilize your resources.
You probably hear this a lot, but it is definitely something to consider. If you are someone who has the time to sit down and put your paper through a website that checks for plagiarism, then do it. A free plagiarism checker is available on www.quetext.com. Uploading your paper is as simple as copying and pasting it. It takes a couple of minutes to sort through millions of other pieces of work for you, highlighting sentences in red that have the same wording as other places or works. This provides you an opportunity to fix any accidental plagiarism that you may have in your work, potentially saving your grade or career.
3. PROOFREAD and EDIT.
One of the most important steps of the writing process is the editing stage. Editing is not just a stage specifically for grammar and punctuation, it can be used to catch your citation mistakes as well. This is a process that can be done a day, or even a matter of hours after you have finished a paper, which ties back to taking your time with your paper. When you’re giving yourself the time to complete it, and make it a paper that you will be confident about turning in, also take the time edit it; then edit it again; then have your best friend edit it; then have your roommate edit it; then you can go over it one last time.
To say that it is easy to accidentally plagiarize is an understatement. We have all missed a citation or a quotation mark. It really is something simple to fall into; however, it does not always have to be a problem. As long as you consider these three simple ways to avoid accidental plagiarism, your paper will be smooth sailing.
Caroline Brown is a senior English literature major, who is also pursuing a minor in public relations. Caroline serves as the publicity chair for Waynesburg University PRSSA. She hopes to pursue a career in publishing post graduation. Caroline is passionate about the Pittsburgh Penguins, reading and spending time with the important people in her life.