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Paraphrasing or referencing, avoid plagiarism

Paraphrasing or referencing: what is the best way to avoid plagiarism

Jan 05, 2013 - Posted to  Writing in General
In the literary world, plagiarism is an unpardonable offense. No wonder, many colleges and institutions warrant students to avoid plagiarism. However, any good academic work must have proper references and ideas of authors of authority in the chosen subject for the work to be considered as well researched. So how does one write a well-researched paper without plagiarizing?
Given below are few steps and suggestions that are sure to help you avoid plagiarizing, and also to paraphrase and reference appropriately, thus helping you to take the quality of your work to the coveted level. Read on:

Know What Plagiarism Is

To avoid plagiarizing, it is a must that you know what it is. Plagiarism is taking someone else's ideas or writing and including them in your writing as your own. Needless to mention, plagiarism is cheating and is penalized harshly by authorities of educational institutes, colleges and universities. Once caught for plagiarism, it can have negative implications on one's career as well. Therefore, it is quintessential that students and academic professionals cautiously avoid intentional as well as accidental plagiarism in their papers and writings.

Acknowledge the Source of Your Idea or Wordings

Whenever you are including information, idea or writing from a source, you must give credit to the author of the original work. You must also include a citation that advises readers of the source from where the idea or writing was taken - fail to adhere to this step, and you will be guilty of plagiarism. It is good to know that according to the copyright law, an author is the legal owner of the ideas, words and syntax used in his book or literary publication, unless the idea expressed in the work is common sense or knowledge. In any case, once a work is published, any inclusion of direct quotes from any published work, without giving due credit to the author, is considered as plagiarism.
Now that you know what is plagiarism, it is time to know whether it is better to paraphrase or quote directly from the source.

Paraphrasing or Referencing - What is Better?

Generally, it is best to use direct quotations from a source only when you have a very strong reason for doing so. If you are writing a humanities paper, then it is alright to quote extensively; however, if social or natural sciences is your subject, then it is better to summarize from relevant sources. If you are writing a literary or critical analysis, then you must quote more, as a part of the assignment demands you to analyze the writing of the author and not to merely summarize.
A must mention here is that there are exceptions to every rule and hence it is best to check with your tutor or instructor whether he/she would prefer you to quote or reference in your work.
When it comes to research paper writing, it is recommended that you give preference to quoting over paraphrasing, especially as quotes help you exhibit that a person of authority in this field supports your point of view. Quotes also help you present as well as strengthen your position and argument.
In addition, quoting should be given preference over paraphrasing if you think that the idea is extremely well expressed and that paraphrasing it would take away its essence. Quotes are also the best way to include historically significant and emotive language in your work.
It is best to summarize or paraphrase the writing of an author if you want to express the same idea in a different manner, especially when you are confident that you can express the same idea in fewer and more impactful words.

How to Paraphrase to Avoid Plagiarism

The best way to paraphrase is to understand the passage and then write down the text that helps you make a point in your writing in your own words, unless your assignment is to literally paraphrase the text.
An ideal way to paraphrase is by reading, understanding, making notes and then expressing the idea in your own words. It is important that you look away from the original source while paraphrasing. While paraphrasing difficult text, it helps to try and change the structure as well as words while you are rewriting. Changing the structure simply implies that you start paraphrasing from a different point depending largely on the focus point or thesis of your paper. You can also try and break longer sentences into shorter ones and combine shorter sentences into longer ones. Irrespective of how you choose to paraphrase, it is quintessential to give credit to the author of the source to avoid plagiarism.

How to Quote

It is important that you do not simply include quotations in your writing for the sake of including quotations; on the other hand, you should employ quotes in your writing in such a way that it helps you to guide the readers through your writing. Dropping quotations intermittently in your writing without any intention or meaning will simply confuse your reader and will not serve the larger purpose of making your writing more impactful. While integrating a quotation in your writing, you must help the reader with the knowledge that a quote is going to follow - you can do this by including the author's name or by referencing his work. However, it is best if you can give a brief introduction or assertion that indicates the relevancy of the quote in the present context of your writing.
If you are including exact quotations from a source, then you must enclose the quotes in quotation marks, and then cite it appropriately in the references or bibliography page of your paper. If you are only including the idea or information, and are paraphrasing the writing from the original source, then you need not enclose the writing in quotation marks, but you must still cite the source.
Many students think that paraphrasing, even without citing, can help them avoid plagiarism. However, the golden rule is that if you did not come up with the original idea, then you must cite the source. If you are in doubt whether to cite or not, it is best to go with the former option, as including a citation will only enrich your readers sense of your literary honesty.
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