Avoiding plagarism

The purpose of this document is to educate authors about plagiarism, and share some techniques on avoiding plagiarism in their own articles.

Plagiarism is a serious ethical offense, and can constitute copyright infringement. Educating writers on how to avoid will help prevent idea theft and increase the credibility of our articles.

Plagiarism defined

Plagiarism is defined in oxford dictionary as “the practice of taking someone's work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own”.

Some examples of possible plagiarism that could surface in an article include:

  • Giving the reader the perception that the content is your own work, by failing to add the appropriate reference

    • Copying/Pasting parts of other blogs/online articles/books without a reference to the author
    • Copying/Pasting parts of other technical publications without a link back to the source
  • Depend on a single source for your article without adding your own ideas and analysis, even if you change the wording but don't mention the source

  • Not giving credit for others' ideas
  • Not quoting specific phrases used from other authors
  • Giving incorrect or misleading information about the source of the information

The exception to the above rule (not to provide references) is what is known as “Common Knowledge”, which can be identified as facts that are known and available from many sources and known to the public.

How to avoid plagiarism

The main way to avoid plagiarism is to provide proper recognition and references to all sources, in the content that you author.

For example, whenever you write an article that has some relationship with other articles, consider the following:

  • Always give credit and acknowledge that some of the ideas used in your article have been borrowed from a specific source or sources.
  • Provide your readers with an easy way to direct them to the source.
  • Don’t copy and paste the exact text; re-write it in a way that provides your own insight or analysis on the topic, with a reference to the source.
  • Consider the fair usage when getting the ideas from any source.

The following tips were provided as part of a Purdue online writing lab, but they provide good guidance for writers to develop content in a unique way and to avoid plagiarism :

  • Develop a topic based on what has already been said and written BUT write something new and original
  • Collaborate with other experts’ and authors’ opinions BUT improve upon, agreeing and/disagreeing with those same ideas and opinions.
  • Give credit to previous researchers and authors BUT make sure to present your significant contribution.
  • Improve your writing skills in your own language building upon what you read BUT with the use of your own words, sentences and voice.

References

This article is an adaptation of work done by Yasser Abdel Kader (Microsoft Services) in "Avoiding Plagiarism for Blog Posts", which also references the following:

  1. Oxford Dictionary Online http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0637200#m_en_gb0637200
  2. Plagiarism dot Org http://www.plagiarism.org/
  3. Purdue Online Writing Lab http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/01/