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  1. StudyWell
  2. Preventing Academic Misconduct
  3. Tips for Preventing Plagiarism
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Tips for Preventing Plagiarism

Whether you are quoting someone else's ideas directly, or using their discussion of a concept to inform your ideas, you MUST cite and reference them in your work.

Keep notes

Always keep a record of what you've been reading and where it has come from.

If you are taking notes, make sure you indicate to yourself where your own notes start and what you are reading ends.

For example, make it clear in your notes if you are copying a sentence which you feel sums up what you are trying to say. If this is crucial to illustrating a point you're making, make sure you use quotation marks in your notes and add who made the quote, the source and the page numbers.

Similarly, if a paragraph summarises or illustrates a concept you agree or disagree with, make sure when you are discussing the author's ideas that you make reference to it being their idea.

Make it clear in your notes if you are quoting that person or when the ideas you're noting down are coming from someone else and not you.

Making notes helps you form your own ideas about a subject, but it is easy to come back to the notes at a later date and copy parts of them down forgetting that these were not your own words. If you have copied someone else's ideas down word for word and not referenced them as someone else's in your essay, this constitutes plagiarism.

Use and attribute quotes

Sometimes you will find that a key author in your field phrases just what you believe about a subject and you can't put it any better yourself. This would be the ideal time to use a quote. After all, that's why they are experts in their field.

Perhaps the quote summarises your take on a particular aspect of a subject, and allows you to discuss the subject or idea further in your own words.

Be careful not to use too many quotes though. You are expected to read and understand other people's work to help you form ideas of your own in relation to these

Presenting a piece of work which just includes quotes from others but no thoughts of your own is not good academic practice and will only demonstrate that you've read about these concepts, not understood or discussed them. Always use quotes sparingly and to illustrate a point you're trying to make.

BUT

If you are using a direct quote from something you've read, make sure you copy the quote directly and put it into quotation marks.

Make sure you keep a note of the source that you have taken the quote from. If it's a book or journal, note down the page number and publication details. If it's a website, make a note of the URL and the date you accessed it.

If you quote lines which are someone else's without attributing them to that person, you could be accused of plagiarism.

You can find more information about how to use quotations in your work in the Citing and Referencing Guide.

See your student handbook for further advice.

Paraphrasing

You can convey someone else's ideas without quoting them directly in quotation marks but remember, you must still attribute the ideas to them.

If you have seen a good explanation or discussion of a topic and want to put it into your own words, make sure it is done in a way which fits with your own writing style and flow of the work. You must be careful not to copy sentences from the passage but construct your own sentences carefully and illustrate that you understand the concept they are trying to explain.

Always credit the author of the ideas you are discussing. You won't need to put the page numbers in the text, but you will need to make a note of the work that the idea came from. You would then include the authors name and the date the work was published in the text.

You might introduce the authors ideas about the topic by including words like:

Anderson states…

Anderson argues….

Anderson suggests that …

Anderson explains…

You can find more information about how to reference other's ideas in your own work in the Citing and Referencing Guide.

See your student handbook for further advice.

Citing and referencing

Citing and referencing correctly is crucial. This will allow whoever is assessing your work to see that you have done a variety of reading on the subject and your own ideas have been informed and compared against the ideas of others. If you don't cite and reference other people's ideas, then you could be accused of plagiarism.

You can find more information about correct citing and referencing in the Citing and Referencing Guide.

See your student handbook for further advice.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.