What is Plagiarism and tips on how to avoid it

The Internet has provided students and scholars with unlimited access to different types of academic resources. Whereas this may seem as a step in the right direction, some students (and scholars) abuse this advantage when they commit plagiarism.

 

The most recent that graced our tabloids involved the distinguished law scholar Dr. P.L.O Lumumba. It was reported that Dr. Lumumba extracted chunks of a colleague’s dissertation and passed them as his own. He personally confirmed this and apologized for the incident.

This leads to the question;

What is plagiarism and how can we avoid it?

Plagiarism is the act of taking another person’s work or ideas and then passing them as one’s own. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as, “…the act of taking the writings of another person and passing them off as one’s own.”

Plagiarism is of great concern for academic instructors since it greatly undermines their ability to assess the outcomes of learning; therefore, making it difficult to develop or adjust instructional methods. It also undermines the instructor’s ability to develop student’s reading, writing, and critical thinking abilities.

Whether deliberate or not, plagiarism is an unnecessary evil that students and scholars can easily avoid. Citing sources for any materials used in academic works – including page numbers and passages – is one way of avoiding plagiarism.

Students can also practice paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism. This involves expressing an author’s ideas using one’s own words. Another way, one can avoid plagiarism through quoting sentences copied from another author’s work verbatim.

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When the text to be quoted is more than 40 characters, it is recommended to use indented block quotations. 

Softwares such as Grammarly can be used for checking plagiarism.

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