A Beginner’s Guide to Plagiarism and How to Mitigate the Problem

The issue of plagiarism is considered one of the biggest mistakes for any academic writer. The process involves advertently or inadvertently copying information from a source without proper citation or referencing (Yale College Writing Center, 2015).This is a big issue for clients because it is considered a form of cheating and academic dishonesty. Likewise, the repercussions are clearly severe and can potentially cause numerous problems. Our roles as academic writers are to maintain work that is both of quality and plagiarism-free.

The issue of plagiarism is all about copying another’s work. Upon close examination, there are many ways that people can commit the act. These actions can be divided into three important categories: copying the source verbatim; using information without properly citing resources; paraphrasing information that is similar with the original work (Yale College Writing Center, 2015). Based on these criteria, it is imperative that academic writers take note of the information they write and properly utilize sources where necessary. The next section shall detail some strategies that can prevent plagiarism from happening.

Mitigating the Problem

One strategy that aspiring academic writers need to look into is the concept of paraphrasing. The practice involves using one’s own language in restating particular source information (Yale College Writing Center, 2015). By putting information on how a writer understands a particular quote or statement can help prevent plagiarism. It is important to note that in the process of paraphrasing, writers should NOT try to copy the same quotation and just change words or sentences. It is still considered plagiarism. A good exercise that can be made is to write down the quotation and try to rephrase the sentence according to how the writer understood the thought or central idea. After making the necessary restatement, the next step would be to put the necessary citation of where the information was taken.

Beginners in academic writing might ask: when is the right time to cite? In answering this question is important to distinguish the difference between common knowledge and information that is not known by all. If it is common knowledge or opinion expressed by the writer alone, then there is no need to cite. Here are some examples of situations where a writer should cite: (1) copying information from another source, (2) introducing facts or figures, (3) paraphrasing, (4) collaboration with another peer, (5) using a method already available, and (6) if the common knowledge for the writer is not necessarily known by the target audience (Yale College Writing Center, 2015).

Another approach would be to familiarize and try to master the different citation styles. People seeking to develop a career in academic writing should have mastery in proper referencing approaches. Among the most common ones are APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian and Harvard. Each one has their own standards in citing resources. Learning the process might take time, however this can also be a very valuable skill necessary for academic writers to mitigate the potential of encountering plagiarism in their work.

Lastly, it is important to take time doing research and properly documenting references. For academic writers, it is expected that they do their work from scratch and try to come up with an original work that is plagiarism free. Having the right mindset in writing and continuously being aware of the situation can be advantageous in preventing the problem. A good technique that can be useful for academic writers would be to look for their sources prior to writing their paper. In this case, they would just need to look for the necessary connections that can tie the resource with the topic.

Overall, the issue of plagiarism remains to be an important issue that academic writers need to consider and understand prior engaging to any type of writing. Learning the term as well as strategies to mitigate the problem is just the start. There should always be a conscious effort to always reference and cite material related to a subject. At the same time, continuously improving skills to paraphrasing and applying proper citation standards can lead to lesser plagiarism issues and problems for both the academic writer and the client.


Yale College Writing Center (2015). What is Plagiarism? Retrieved from

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