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Understanding plagiarism

Writing new and original texts can be a difficult task. Yet you cannot simply copy someone else's work, as this is considered plagiarism. But what is plagiarism and when is something considered plagiarism? Don't worry! We will gladly explain what plagiarism is and how you can prevent it in your writing. That way, you can be sure that submitting your texts will not cause you any problems. What are you waiting for?

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is copying someone else's work and pretending it is your own. When you plagiarize, you violate someone else's intellectual property rights: it is therefore seen as committing fraud and is even punishable in some cases. Committing plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, often has major consequences when submitting your study reports. The first time you often get away with a warning and a re-sit, but if it happens more often it can cause you to be permanently suspended.

When is something plagiarism?

Now that you know what plagiarism is, it's time to look at when something is considered plagiarism. The worst form of plagiarism is when you copy an entire text and only change the author's name. In some cases, plagiarism also occurs when you do not include a correct source citation. This is the case when:

  • You copy and paste parts of the text verbatim into a new text;
  • You rewrite a text in your own words;
  • You summarise someone else's work;
  • You synthesize multiple sources without rewriting them;
  • You reuse your own work for another assignment.

So, these forms of copying are allowed as long as you mention the source completely and correctly. The sourcing is usually done using a recognized method of citing sources, such as APA, or in line with guidelines your school uses when writing a paper, essay, or portfolio assignment.

How to prevent plagiarism

No one wants to end up resitting an assignment or possibly getting suspended for committing plagiarism. Fortunately, plagiarism is easy to prevent by rewriting sentences in the right way or by quoting from them, always adding a reference including a list of sources.

Preventing plagiarism starts from the moment you start your assignment. Save a source as soon as you think it might be interesting for your text. Remember, just changing a few words compared to your source is not enough. This is still considered plagiarism. Always rewrite the text you want to use in your own words by changing the sentence structure, using synonyms, and changing the order of the information. Then correctly cite the source.

If you still want to copy a complete sentence, you should choose a citation. You can do this, for example, when you want to explain a concept, provide evidence, or when the source has formulated the text so well that the quality would deteriorate if you rewrote it. When you choose to quote, place the copied text between double inverted commas and then close with a correct source citation.

When writing your assignment, make sure you do everything possible to prevent plagiarism: colleges and universities use sophisticated plagiarism scanners that compare the content with other assignments, books, or internet sources.
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