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AVOIDING PLAGIARISM: SMART TIPS TO APPLY

By Chidi Rafael

Information is power and excessive use of power with little control will definitely corrupt or worst still destroy! Every borrowed idea from books, magazines, research journals and the almighty internet must be properly acknowledged.
With our busy academic schedules as students coupled with family responsibilities, one may see research work as too tasking and may not really have the time to write from scratch. Unfortunately, as technology is advancing our dear lecturers are getting smarter by the day. Nigerian students are now interested in producing un-plagiarized papers as some schools are beginning to use anti-plagiarism softwares to screen term papers, essays and even research projects.
However, no need for fears. Your concerns are mine too. This power packed article will show you awesome tips that will aid you in avoiding plagiarism and getting ahead of your supervisor. Even the likes of Turnitin, Viper, and Plagtracker etc will never see your brake lights. Enjoy!

Know the Meaning of Plagiarism
To excel in your school papers without hitches, you must first understand what plagiarism is and what it is not. Plagiarism in simple English involves using other peoples’ ideas, theories, models etc. without referencing them.
For example:
Original Post: ‘’the rise in un-employment rate in Nigeria has resulted in the establishment of more small and medium scale enterprises in Nigeria’’ (Nnamoko, 2014: 13).
Plagiarizing: The increase in un-employment rate in Nigeria has led to the establishment of numerous little and medium scale enterprises in Nigeria.
Not Plagiarizing: The rapid growth of business ventures and entrepreneurial activities in Nigeria can be attributed to the alarming rate of un-employment in Nigeria (Nnamoko, 2014:13).

Learn How to Properly Rephrase
From the above example, you can clearly see that both sentences were rephrased, but one was properly rephrased with adequate citation, while the former was pure plagiarism. Now in rephrasing, one must not only change few words to skip plagiarism, but must go ahead to add more meaning in the sentence while acknowledging the author at the same time. This will work in the literature review section of a paper. One’s ability to summarize a research journal or a book in an appropriate manner will help overcome any plagiarism checkers.

Develop Interest in the Subject Matter
One factor that encourages plagiarism amongst students is that most students who plagiarize do not have adequate interest for the topic of their paper. Once there is no interest, originality and creativity dies off. To avoid plagiarism and its associate problems, one must first understand the topic or theme of the paper to be written, read extensively on the subject matter and interact with experts in that field. These processes will aid in making the topic or theme fun and a wider insight into the subject matter will be gained by the student.

Do not Rely on One Source
The probability of plagiarizing is higher if you get all your information from a single source. Do not rely on a single article, book or journal to get information for your research project. Read extensively as more references will prove a thorough research and lesser probability for plagiarizing. With many sources, the writer will gain enough knowledge on the subject matter and this will help the writer to express his or her thoughts freely.

Improve on Your Writing Habit
To be an excellent student/researcher, you must inculcate the habit of writing in your academic life. Always feel free to use a pen and a paper to summarize articles in your own words, or better still try expressing your opinions and thoughts on paper. Improve on your academic writing skills and try a bit of creative writing.

Try Google Translate Tools
If you have read up to this point and you cannot still create your own original content, then you can opt for Google Translate. This tool can help you to apply some ‘surgery’ to an original article to become yours. Simply visit http://translate.google.com. This fantastic tool will translate an original article in English to another language of your choice, then to yet another language and back to English. The trick here is that by the time you translate an English article to French, French to Spanish, then Spanish to English again, the original article will now be in broken English. From there you can edit and add your own ideas to get your own original content. You may also try some article spinners such as spinbot and freespinner.

Always Make Use of Anti-Plagiarism Tools
Before you submit your term paper, essay, research project etc. to your lecturer or supervisor ensure you make good use of a good anti-plagiarism checker to ensure you do not fall a victim to plagiarism. Students can use free anti-plagiarism tools in websites such as www.plagtracker.com or www.smallseotools.com/plagiarism-checker These sites will help tell whether you are safe from plagiarism or not.

Learn How to Properly Cite/Reference   
Finally, this is the most important tip in avoiding plagiarism. Now that you are fully aware of what plagiarism is and dangers associated with the act, you must learn to fully reference all borrowed ideas incorporated in your paper. Use accepted referencing style(s) by your institution.
Remember:

    • Reputation and respect can be lost if you plagiarize.
    • Grades can be affected because of plagiarism.
    • Possible delays and expulsion from school can be caused by deliberate plagiarism.
    • Awesome websites such as www.researchclue.com and projectsxtra do not encourage plagiarism. Only use resources you get from the internet as a guide and do good by contributing to the body of knowledge!
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