English Grammar Blog
Plagiarism: How To Avoid It
Understanding how to avoid plagiarism is difficult for most beginners. It is also difficult for many experienced writers, as well. If you are not familiar with the various skills expected of writers, it can even be confusing. This is a great place to start!
Always use Citations
There is one thing you must remember, regardless of which writing style you use: When you use someone else’s ideas, always cite them.
This basic rule will help you avoid plagiarism. It is very simple and is easy to remember.
However, you may be unfamiliar with the methods of citing others’ work. Consider that there are many style guides. Each one has a slightly different way of citing. What this should tell you right away is that there is no one “correct” way to cite.
In-Text and Reference Citations
There are two methods of citing that you must become familiar with:
The first method of citing is done by using an in-text citation. This means that if you quote another author, or paraphrase their work, you must put a citation at the end of the sentence. This gives the author credit for their work.
The second method of citing is done by placing a reference citation at the bottom of the page. The online Citation Machine can help you with this. Just enter the requested information and select your style. It will create the reference citation for you. It will also suggest an in-text citation.
It is not always practical to use in-text citations for every kind of writing. For example, when writing articles, too many in-text citations can cause confusion. The academic style of writing, on the other hand, is very strict. In this style, every sentence that uses others’ work must have an in-text citation as well as a reference page.
Styles and Citations
There are different style guides such as APA, MLA, Chicago and AP styles. Each of these has a slightly different method of how to cite each kind of material. Materials cited could be books, non-print sources, electronic sources or journal articles.
If that isn’t enough, these styles also have slightly different rules for commas! However, it is not important to memorize the differences between them. It is important is to know that they exist, and are useful sources for your future reference.
If you are beginning to suspect that citing is really a matter of what kind of circumstance you are dealing with, then you are really getting it! Congratulations are in order because this is a very challenging concept for many writers.
Yes, every time you use someone else’s work, you must give them credit. Credit, in writing, is called a citation. This can be an in-text citation, a reference at the bottom of the page, or both.
Like most issues in writing, the way to avoid plagiarism has a lot to do with your audience — who are you writing to, and what are their expectations of you? One easy way to get this information is to ask!