What plagiarism is and how to avoid it

One of the first things you will be told on upon starting any course of study is that you must not plagiarise. If this is told to you early in your academic career, as it certainly should be, then you might well be unfamiliar with the term. What you may not be aware of is that there are many different definitions of plagiarism.

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Plagiarism is stealing!

This is the simplest way to explain plagiarism, it is stealing. What's more, it's stealing of the worst kind because it's taking another's idea and passing them off as your own: in other words, cheating. Schools, colleges, and universities levy severe punishments on any student caught plagiarising and, in professional life, you would be prosecuted for it - plagiarism is illegal!

The Internet and plagiarism:

The increasing use of the internet as a resource has made it much easier to plagiarise, but it has also made it easier to detect since most schools, colleges, and universities automatically scan work against millions of other sources to try and discover whether or not a student has cheated. Combined with the knowledge and experience of your teachers, tutors, and lecturers, this makes it virtually impossible to get away with this type of theft. Do not make the mistake of underestimating the wide-ranging knowledge and experience of your teachers - they were students once themselves and during their careers have probably encountered every trick in the book! Therefore, make no mistake about it, if you deliberately plagiarise, you will be caught.

Accidental plagiarism:

Usually, however, a student is not guilty of direct plagiarism but plagiarising by accident. Unfortunately, it is too easy to do this when you are carrying out extensive research. Writing notes will, undoubtedly, incorporate the ideas of others alongside your own as this helps to create a balanced argument and give an overview of other research done in the area. If this is carried out in a rush, for example, a term paper or essay you did not allow enough time for; if you were interrupted during your work; or if you simply created noted over an extended period of time (as with a thesis or dissertation), then it is easy to forget where your ideas end and another's begin. This is where accidental plagiarism can easily occur.

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How to avoid plagiarism:

A very good way to avoid accidental plagiarism is to carefully record every single reference you make in your notes and put them into a list at the end of each referencing session that you carry out. It is also an excellent idea to list every single book you consult (as you consult it) in the referencing style required by your school, college, or university. Not only will this help you to avoid an accusation of plagiarism, it will also enable you to grow accustomed to the required referencing style of your academic institution. This way of working will also allow your reference list and/or bibliography to evolve over a period of time and not appear to be a rushed task, hastily compiled at the end of your work. Take time to find out precisely how your school, college, or university requires you to reference as there is a great deal of difference between the parenthetical/reference list method (employed by referencing styles such as Harvard) and the footnote/bibliography style (employed by referencing styles such as Oxford). It is important to get this right because, like accidental plagiarism, getting it wrong will harm your academic career.

When you begin to construct your essay it is likely that you will consult a 'model answer' of some sort. These are frequently given out to students to help them see how an essay on the topic you are studying should be written. There are many published works containing model answers and websites producing custom essays to your specific requirements and, although the quality of writing can differ from website to website, there is not difference in terms of the possibility of misuse. It is how you use these 'model answers' that makes the difference between availing yourself of a valuable academic resource and plagiarising.

The best way to use a 'model answer' from a custom essay writing website is to think of the resource as you would a book i.e. make notes from it. Some of the key points you might take as a model without plagiarising are:

  • Structuring
  • Use of evidence
  • Development of argument
  • Conclusions drawn

Do not copy any words down from sources exactly as they are written unless you intend to cite them correctly within your work, otherwise you will be plagiarising.

The good news is that nobody could, or should, accuse you of plagiarism if you simply use a source to aid your own quality of work. You are, after all, expected to research your topic, you just need to ensure you are careful about differentiating between your own thoughts and those of others.

Another frustrating form of accidental plagiarism can occur when you genuinely thought an idea was your own but later find that it is replicated in a book, journal, or other resource. The only way to avoid this is to carefully check that the area you are researching, particularly if it is a familiar area or a popular topic, has not already covered the point you are making. This is especially important if your work is expected to be original, for example in postgraduate work such like a Masters or doctoral theses.

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Plagiarise and you're the one who suffers:

Remember that plagiarism is a crime and that, like all forms of cheating, it ultimately harms no-one more than it does you. The best way to avoid it is to follow these simple guidelines.

Does buying an essay count as plagiarism?

If you're struggling with your work and buy an essay, does this constitute as plagiarism?

The act of buying the essay is perfectly legitimate. You're allowed to buy an essay and use it for research as long as you don't copy it word for word and submit it. We advise that, if you buy an essay to help your research process, you should use it just like any other model answer or journal article you're given to look at. If you copy the essay word for word, reorganise sections or hand it in as your own, you'll be conducting plagiarism. Your university will take this very seriously and will be likely to issue you with a penalty.

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If I buy an essay, how can I be sure it's not plagiarised?

If you do decide to buy an essay it's wise to ensure the work you purchase is backed up with a 'no-plagiarism' guarantee. Ask the company you're buying from if they'll send you a free plagiarism scan with the essay.

Check the company's policy on whether they offer compensation if you later find that your essay is plagiarised. Unlike most other essay writing companies, we promise that if you find that the essay you have purchased is plagiarised, we'll give you £5,000 as compensation.

UK Essays will give you these guarantees as standard when you buy an essay from our website. If you are thinking about purchasing an essay, you can be sure that UK Essays will provide work that is 100% original and plagiarism free.

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