There are certain actions a student can take on a paper that are unquestionably considered to be acts of plagiarism. These include buying, stealing, copying a paper, and using quotes without citations. But then there are actions that are usually in more of a gray area. Some of these are using similar sentence organizations, similar wording in paraphrasing, or building on someone's ideas and forgetting to give credit for their parts. English instructors are usually very skilled at seeing insistences of plagiarism and they also have a great arsenal of tools that can help them find instances of plagiarism in papers. So, let us look at some strategies for avoiding any suspicious activities that could point to instances of plagiarism.
The most important thing you need to keep in mind to avoid plagiarism is to make sure credit is given where credit is due. Whether it is something that was written or said orally, if you take works, concepts, ideas, facts, and data from someone else, you have to give them credit for that work. The two most common forms of citation for papers and documents are the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA), and both of them have lengthy guidelines that govern how they are used in papers.
Even when a student is trying his or her best to cite everything properly they often misgauge what does and does not need to be cited. They get so caught up in the technicality of how to cite that they often overlook things that should be cited and get into trouble with accusations of plagiarism. So here is a brief list of what needs to be credited or documented:
The best piece of advice a student can get when it comes to deciding if something should or should not be cited is to err on the side of caution. When it doubt, cite- you are not likely to get in trouble for over citing, by you will absolutely face some consequences if you are found guilty of plagiarism.
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