You’re writing some research papers and you discovered so many amazing essays you want to use: congratulations but, well, be careful, you may end up stealing other people’s ideas and words. Let’s take a look at some good tips to avoid plagiarism and use your sources in the best way.
What’s plagiarism? It’s the copying of another person's ideas, texts or other creative works, and presenting them as your own, especially without permission. Definitely unethical. If you use other researchers’ ideas without crediting them you’re actually stealing their work. I know, I know, maybe while researching some passages might stick with you so well that you inadvertently include them in your writing without a citation. Or you just can’t remember where you got that idea from, or other times you accidentally forgot to cite your sources because you were under pressure to publish.
Perhaps you tried to paraphrase, but the result is still too close to the original? Sorry, that still counts as plagiarism. We’re so used to copying and pasting words nowadays that we may end up being a bit careless when using them in an academic or professional context: nope, you’re not supposed to copy a whole paragraph of someone else’s work. Or maybe it wasn’t even you: you paid someone to write an assignment for you and then publish it as your own. Again plagiarism, darling: you’re supposed to write your essay yourself, or cite your helper as a co-author.
So, how do you avoid plagiarism, keep your integrity as a writer/scholar/student and stay away from legal actions against you from one of the sources? Here’s a list of tips to stay focused and keep away from copying and pasting other people’s works without crediting them:
Don’t forget to keep track of your sources: write them all down and build a list of citations you may end up using.
When you actually want to use these quotes, always paraphrase them accurately (with Ludwig it’s easy, as you saw) or quote from your sources. How? By copying the text using quotation marks, adding the original author’s name and year of publication and introducing it in your own words. For instance, you may write something like “As Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, ‘The limits of my language mean the limits of my world’ (Tractatus logico-philosophicus, 1921). If you prefer footnote citation then you’ll have to place the note at the bottom of the page and then add the full reference in the bibliography at the end of your paper.
Take all the time you need to write and edit your text: journals usually check new works for plagiarism, so if they reject yours because of that you’ll have lost time and any hope of being published. If you’re still in school, you may end up losing financial aid or leadership roles.
Try to improve your vocabulary by reading on many different topics, choose authors known for the quality of their work and your ability to paraphrase and use a richer vocabulary will grow.
You’re not a parrot so, instead of copying the source’s ideas or words, try to make your own point and elaborate a unique perspective.
To sum up, plagiarism is unethical and can put at risk your research career, so try not to take shortcuts: due diligence will pay you in the long run.