Plagiarism is a nasty word, and we want to avoid being accused of this academic crime. This is my advice to avoid plagiarizing.
1. If at all possible, write on topics you know sufficiently well.
2. If you have to do research on the topic you want to write about, look at several different sources of information. Use your time to understand the information before even thinking about the organization of your writing.
3. If you are taking notes while you are reading, don't copy out complete sentences. If someone has an idea you really want to use, put quotations around their exact words and note the author's name and where you read it.
4. Write a summary of your understanding of the topic. A mind map or free-write are popular ways to see how well you understand the topic. You should not look at your information sources while you summarize your understanding.
5. Decide on the organization of your writing. This will be easy since you are now an expert on your chosen topic.
6. Start writing your draft. Rely on your memory and notes, and avoid going back to the original information source.
7. When editing, make deliberate attempts to vary your sentence structure.
By doing these steps you will sleep easily knowing that the sentences and organization are truly your own
Good luck and have fun. Try a Quiz on Plagiarism at the University of Guelph
(September 4, 2012)
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