How To Avoid Plagiarism – Methods & Citing Sources

21.03.23 Plagiarism overview Time to read: 6min

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Avoiding plagiarism is an imperative competency for any researcher, especially in the sphere of academic writing. Plagiarism refers to the act of passing the ideas, words, or work of someone else as one’s own without attributing proper credit to the original source. This can cause ethical controversies and serious consequences. Thus, it is essential for any writer to have a good understanding of citing sources properly, paraphrasing productively, and writing in own words. This article delves into how to avoid plagiarism.

How To Avoid Plagiarism – In a Nutshell

  • Learn more about how to avoid plagiarism to avoid severe academic penalties.
  • Regarding how to avoid plagiarism, use proper citation methods.
  • Plagiarism checkers can help you avoid accidental plagiarism.
  • Get an insight into 5 methods fort avoiding plagiarism.

Definition: How to avoid plagiarism

Here are some tips to follow when learning how to avoid plagiarism:

  • Using a plagiarism checker
  • Using quotation marks
  • Being scrupulous in note-taking
  • Using good paraphrasing
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How to avoid plagiarism: Is it so important?

Plagiarism can severely impact your academic career as you will be effectively stealing intellectual property. This amounts to cheating and is extremely unethical. As a student, this act can lead to low grades, outright failure of a course, or even suspension and expulsion from the institution. Therefore, you need to know how to avoid plagiarism as much as possible.

How to avoid plagiarism: 5 Methods

To learn how to avoid plagiarism, you should follow these tips.

Keeping track of your sources

Keeping track of your sources is a great tip on how to avoid plagiarism.

  • To avoid making this mistake, you should maintain notes on the sources you used for your research.
  • Make sure you compile the list as you go on with your work, and organize them in different colors.
  • One color can be used to indicate a direct quote, and another to indicate claims that require citation.
  • To make it easier to organize your sources, you can use reference management software.

How to avoid plagiarism: Quoting

Another great tip on how to avoid plagiarism is to use quotes. In this case, you will have to use the exact words of the author and include quotation marks. If the quote is long, you should use block quotes.

Here are some instances where you should use quotation marks to avoid plagiarism:

  • When you’re unable to paraphrase the text without affecting its meaning
  • When you need to evaluate the terms or language used by the author
  • When you need to keep the author’s style and authority
  • If you want to use the author’s definition


Quote by Barack Obama:

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Here is how to use this quote correctly:


It is clear that ‘change will not come if we wait’ for other people or other times. ‘We are the ones we’ve been waiting for’ (Obama, 2012).


It is clear that change will not come if we wait for other people or other times. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. (missing citation)

How to avoid plagiarism: Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing involves using your own words to explain someone else’s ideas. Many students are tempted to simply change some words in the sentence, as this can beat plagiarism checkers. However, this is the wrong way to paraphrase and still counts as plagiarism. Instead, you have to reformulate the sentence. You can also combine ideas from different sources into one sentence. Take a look at the following example:


The president rose to power because he was a great speaker and had the capacity to make people support him. While the country had many moderate parties, they couldn’t work together and couldn’t stand up to the leading party. His rise to power was also quickened by the depression, as this led to widespread poverty and joblessness.

This is how to paraphrase it correctly:


The president was a great speaker and could easily convince people to support him. The country had lots of moderate political parties, but these were divided and had trouble standing up to the government. He was also able to ascend to power because of the economic turmoil at the time.



The president was able to take control of the country because of a number of reasons. These include the increased poverty rate following the depression, his public speaking skills, and the division among moderate parties in the country.

How to avoid plagiarism: Citing sources correctly

It is important to cite sources used for your paper, as this allows readers to locate the source if they want to learn more about the topic. You should cite your sources whenever you quote or paraphrase the original text. This could be done using:

There are many citation styles you can use, and the most popular are APA style, MLA, and Chicago style. You should stick to a single citation style throughout your paper. Also, make sure you check whether your professor requires you to use a particular citation style.

Here is an example of how to avoid plagiarism when citing a single source:


In-text citation: The book notes that “there are people who have to put others down” to increase their sense of self-importance. (Obama, 2020, p. 218).
Reference list: Obama, B. (2020). A promised land. Crown.

Here is an example of how to avoid plagiarism when citing a multiple sources:


In-text citation: The president used the party “to ascend to power ” (Paul, 1987, p. 200), and the “widespread poverty following the depression” contributed to his quick rise to power (Jacob, 1978, p. 105).
Reference list: Paul, B. (1987). The Ascending to power. Oxford University Press.
Jacob, N. M. (1978). The president – Rise to power. Penguin Random House.

How to avoid plagiarism: Plagiarism checker

Plagiarism checkers use advanced database software to check for matches between your academic paper and existing texts. Using a plagiarism checker will ensure that you don’t commit accidental plagiarism.

Here are a few issues that might lead to accidental plagiarism:

  • Failing to cite your sources
  • Accidentally using the same group of words when paraphrasing texts
  • Wrongly quoting your sources
  • Using the same words when summarizing an idea

How to avoid plagiarism: Checklist

Follow these tips if you want to learn how to avoid plagiarism in academic writing:

  • Make sure all cited sources are included in the bibliography or reference list
  • Use quotation marks when you use the same words as the author
  • Paraphrase longer quotes or use block quotation marks to quote the author directly
  • Avoid changing single words in a sentence when paraphrasing, instead change the sentence structure
  • Use a plagiarism checkers to avoid accidental plagiarism
  • Keep track of your sources
  • Check whether you have committed self-plagiarism by using your previously published works
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Yes, it is possible to commit plagiarism of another person’s work by accident, and that is why you should use a plagiarism checker.

Quotes should be used sparingly in academic writing, and they are mostly used in cases where paraphrasing can be difficult.

You should learn how to avoid plagiarism, as it can result in low grades or even expulsion from school.

Plagiarism is the act of taking someone else’s works and passing them off as your own.