How Plagiarism Can Be Avoided: 5 Top Methods

by Mabel Adams 9 min read
A woman sitting at a desk
A frustrated woman sitting at her desk

In a world of widespread digitization, plagiarism is becoming an increasingly common problem. It is a practice of using someone else’s ideas or words without citing them correctly. This issue affects all levels of education and can lead to serious consequences for students and professionals alike. Copied content not only undermines the credibility of your work but may also lead to legal action.

What is plagiarism and how to avoid it? Is it plagiarism if you cite your sources properly? We have compiled this guide on ensuring the originality of your content to address these and other questions about preventing plagiarism. Read on to learn how to avoid plagiarism in five easy steps.

What Is Plagiarism?

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A woman sitting on a sofa with a laptop

One of the first steps to avoid plagiarism is to understand what it is and why it is unethical. Simply put, it means using someone else's work without giving them credit for it. Such activities can involve using another person’s writing, ideas, or images without referencing the source. 

Why is plagiarism wrong? It is an unfair and unethical practice that involves stealing someone else’s work and claiming it as your own. In certain cases, it may violate the law. 

Unauthorized use of someone else’s content may come in many forms — from direct copypasting to plagiarizing yourself. Let's look through the most common types of duplicate content.

Direct plagiarism

Direct plagiarism stands for taking someone else’s work and copying it word for word, without giving any credit to its original creator. It is one of the most serious forms of plagiarism, as it involves stealing another person’s content. Being accused of such practices can lead to serious legal consequences.

Accidental plagiarism

Sometimes, people may accidentally plagiarize without realizing it. It can happen when you forget to cite a source or you mix up the words of two different works. Accidental plagiarism is still unethical, so avoid it at all costs.

Mosaic plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism involves mixing up the words and sentences of other people’s work with your own. While you are using your own words, some parts may come from someone else’s work without giving credit to its original creator. This type of plagiarism is difficult to detect, so it is important to be aware of the potential issues.


You may think that you can get away with plagiarizing yourself. But in reality, it is still a form of using duplicate content. Self-plagiarism occurs when you reuse your work without giving credit to yourself. It is especially common in academia, where students may use their old essays as a source for new assignments.

Why Should You Avoid Plagiarism?

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A female student writing on white paper

Preventing plagiarism in your written works is essential. Here are the major risks of using someone else's content without proper citing:

  • The original author of the content might take legal action
  • You may lose credibility and trust among your peers, colleagues, and readers
  • You may face academic penalties, such as failing grades or expulsion from school

Reusing content published before can lead to legal action. If you copy someone else’s work without giving them credit, a victim may sue you for copyright infringement.

Besides legal issues, plagiarizing can hurt your academic reputation. This unethical practice undermines the credibility of your work. Moreover, it takes away from the creativity and originality of your content. It deprives you of the opportunity to develop and express your own ideas. 

Plagiarizing in a professional or academic setting can also lead to disciplinary action or expulsion. 

How to Know if You Are Plagiarizing?

A woman writing in a notebook
A woman taking notes in front of a laptop

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if you are plagiarizing or not. It is important to know when you are using someone else's ideas without giving credit so that you can avoid plagiarism. 

Here are some tips on how not to plagiarize and spot duplicate content in your writing on time.

Check your sources

Is it still plagiarism if you cite the source? Definitely not! Make sure you cite any sources you use in your content — books, articles, websites, and other materials. Citing your sources helps to give credit where it is due and prevents accidental plagiarism.

Verify your work

Run your work through a plagiarism checker to make sure that it does not contain any plagiarized content. These tools will help you detect any text copied from another source. If you spot any duplicate content, you can easily address the issue and avoid getting into trouble.

Let's look through some of the best originality-checking tools and techniques and learn how to make sure your essay is not plagiarized.

  • Grammarly

Grammarly is a writing tool that can help you identify and flag duplicate content in your work. It also provides suggestions on how to improve the originality of the text. The suggestions may include alternatives for words or phrases used too often.

  • Turnitin

Turnitin is a software tool that checks submitted papers against the content in its database. The database stores more than 60 billion web pages and 200 million academic papers. These capabilities enable Turnitin to detect plagiarized pieces of information quickly and accurately.

  • Plagiarisma

Plagiarisma is another tool designed to detect potential instances of plagiarism in your copy. It performs a comprehensive scan to identify duplicate contents. Plagiarisma uses technologies such as Google Scholar, Yahoo!, and Bing search engines.

  • Plageranker

Plageranker is capable of detecting all types of copied content. It can spot paraphrased material, direct word-for-word copying, misspelled words, and more. Plageranker uses natural language processing technology (NLP) combined with an intelligent algorithm. 

  • Search Engine Checking

Along with using software tools, you can perform a simple search engine check. By searching pieces of your content, you can find similar works published online or elsewhere. Such a technique helps identify any potential plagiarism cases before submitting your work for review.

Read widely

The more you read online, the better. Reading teaches you how to use other people’s ideas without accidentally plagiarizing them. When reading through sources, take notes and make sure to cite any passages you may use in your work. A good practice is to separate your ideas from the words of others by labeling your notes.

Read your work aloud

Reading your work out loud is a great way to spot any copied content. When you read the text out loud, it is easier to detect any cliches and reused phrases or ideas.

How Do You Avoid Plagiarism?

A student doing homework
A female student doing homework

We have gone through what plagiarism is and why you should prevent it. Now, it is time to proceed with the most exciting part of our guide — duplicate content prevention.

How to avoid plagiarism in college, university, and other academic contexts? Here are five effective methods to ensure the uniqueness of your writing.

1. Cite your sources

One of the ways to avoid plagiarism is to simply give credit where it is due. Whenever you use another person's ideas, words, or works in your paper, make sure to cite the source. Include a link to their original work if possible. Even if it is not a direct quote, citing is the best way how to avoid self plagiarism.

If you do not know how to properly cite a source, you can always consult your professor. Or, you can check out a citation style guide.

2. Paraphrase and summarize

Paraphrasing means re-phrasing or changing the original copy to fit your writing style. When paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism, try to use new words and a different structure to the original text. Provide a citation and make sure to accurately represent the source.

Summarizing is taking a large body of text and condensing it into a paragraph or two with your own words. You may want to include the main points only to summarize someone else’s ideas. When summarizing, provide a citation as well.

3. Use quotation marks

If you choose to quote a source directly, include quotation marks around the original text. Using quotations will not only help distinguish between yours and someone else's words. It can also provide an easy way to cite the source.

When using quotes in your work, try to keep them as brief as possible, unless they are particularly relevant or noteworthy. Long quotes take up a lot of space and can draw attention away from the originality of your writing.

4. Double-check your work

Remember to proofread and double-check your work. First, you will make sure it flows logically. Second, you can check if you have included the necessary citations or references.

Run your work through an originality checker. It is a quick and easy way to identify duplicate content in your paper before it is too late. Use the tools such as Grammarly and Turnitin to detect plagiarism cases before submitting your work.

These checks will help you ensure the uniqueness of your content.

5. Create your own work 

What is the best way to avoid plagiarism? The surest way to avoid plagiarism is to create your original work. Take some time and effort to do research, form your opinions, and draw your conclusions. Brainstorm ideas and follow your creative process to produce authentic content that is truly yours. You can develop your own strategies to avoid plagiarism in academia.

Is It Plagiarism to Use Your Own Work?

A woman taking notes
A woman writing notes in a notebook

Now, what about reusing your content such as your past essays, articles, or other material written before? Is it plagiarism if you use your old work?

Using content from papers or other works published before is not plagiarism if the author gives themselves credit for it. As long as you cite your old works properly and identify the source clearly, such content can qualify as original. 

Reusing your work can be beneficial in certain cases. Have you written top-quality material on a certain topic before and want to use it as a starting point for a new paper? With proper citation, it’s perfectly acceptable. 

But, you must be careful when reusing your content. Some publishers may consider it self-plagiarism and reject your submission.

How to avoid self-plagiarism in this case? Make sure to add new information, arguments, and conclusions while properly citing the source.

Plus, be sure to check your past work. You need to make sure that you are not infringing on someone else's intellectual property rights.


Plagiarism is a serious issue that can have severe consequences for anyone caught in the act. Taking some simple steps can help you prevent plagiarism from taking place. Follow the following tips to avoid plagiarism to maintain a good academic reputation:

  • Give credit to sources
  • Create original content
  • Rephrase when necessary
  • Include quotes 
  • Double-check your writing

Remember to be careful when reusing your work — make sure that you are not plagiarizing yourself. With a few simple tips in mind and some good practices, you can protect yourself from academic crime and learn how to avoid plagiarism in academic writing.

We hope our guide on how to prevent plagiarism will help you produce unique and engaging content. Good luck with your writing!

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