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5 Simple Rules to Avoid Plagiarism in Dissertations

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  • The theme of plagiarism is one of the most actual, if not to say, hype, for today. “Plagiarism” is searched in dissertations of famous people, students, undergraduates and graduate students are intimidated with it. To determine “plagiarism” or “percentage of borrowing”, more and more computer programs are being developed. But what is this terrible plagiarism?

    Merriam-Webster dictionary defines plagiarism as “an act or instance of plagiarizing”, and plagiarizing as “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source” or “to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”

    Accordingly, if there is no intentional appropriation of other people’s words, thoughts and ideas, the plagiarism shouldn’t be in question. Therefore, can’t be considered as plagiarism the following points:

    1. Correctly executed quotes with attribution and data regarding the source of borrowing;
    2. Stable expressions — phraseological units, proverbs, cliches, used in oral and written speech in unchanged form;
    3. Names of organizations, legislative acts, literary works, names, names, patronymics of famous people, dates and geographical names.

    Unfortunately, computer programs, which are now so popular in the academia, often consider cases listed above as “not original text,” which often serves as a reason for accusing a student or graduate student of “plagiarism.” At the same time, the presentation of the results of someone’s scientific research in your own words without attribution can and should be regarded as the appropriation of someone else’s labor, i.e. plagiarism. But the computer program is not capable in this case to determine its presence. That is why the decision on the originality of student or scientific work should be and bow often is made not on the basis of the conclusion of a computer program about the “percentage of uniqueness”, but only after the text is analysed by experts. In case of dissertations the computer-based check is only the first step towards evaluation of your work. Get to know how to please both the machine and experts studying your paper for uniqueness, and prove that your dissertation is 100% original and well-written according to the academic Honor Code.

    How to Provide Your Professor with a 100% Original Dissertation

    Rule #1.  Don’t paraphrase without citing

    It might come as a surprise but such a popular method as paraphrasing is not strictly legit when it comes to the originality of your papers. Telling something with your own words doesn’t allow you to forget about citing the initial source. You cannot just rewrite someone’s work in your own words and hope to trick plagiarism checker or your professor. You should always remember that he or she have read hundreds of the similar papers already and is able to track the most commonly used sources in his or her discipline.

    Rule #2. Paraphrasing doesn’t mean using synonyms

    If you decide to paraphrase and cite some relevant sources, don’t just use synonyms to form your sentences. It is always trackable, and the more sophisticated and advanced software your university or college uses, the bigger trouble you might get in. Write down the key ideas of the abstracts you are willing to paraphrase, using your own words initially. Make a structure and make sure it differs from the initial one at least a little. Then write what you’ve understood from those abstracts using your new structure. Don’t forget to cite what you have written.

    Rule #3. Don’t use parts of your previous works

    This mistake is made by more and more students, as writing, for example, a term paper, they think it is a great idea to use their own texts they have submitted earlier. Though you are right to think that what was written by you is your property, you can’t just copy-paste it, unless it is agreed with your professor preliminary. You can though use some calculations and tables, but make sure to write fresh evaluations. Remember that such programs as Turnitin often store checked documents, and you might be automatically accused of plagiarism using parts of your already checked essay or research paper. You might get lucky, but we don’t recommend to try your chances on it.

    Rule #4. Don’t share your notes with peers

    It might sound tough and unfair, but unless you are 100% sure your notes won’t be copied don’t share it with anyone. The same rules goes for you already submitted papers, drafts, etc. Spreading your writings is good if you try to sell a book, but sharing your academic drafts might get you into trouble. Even if your peer paraphrases what you have written the system still will be able to detect it. Again, it might not happen from the first time, because plagiarism checkers are not flawless themselves, but what for to risk your academic career?

    Rule #5. Read relevant articles and newsletters

    It is the most simple and working rule of all. Subscribe for newsletters covering your major and you will always have plenty of sources to cite. Most of the paid academic journal storages have such newsletters where they offer you 1-3 articles a week free of charge. Save them meticulously and you will have a relevant database to use. If they don’t allow to save them — use a PrintScreen option.

    Use these simple rules, look for original sources every time you start writing, subscribe for newsletters relevant to your discipline, and you will always stay away from plagiarism. Good luck!

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