How to avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism is copy-pasting someone else’s work. You get ideas and concepts from other people’s work when writing a paper. So, make sure to rewrite the paper in your own words and always provide references. If your paper includes tables and figures, seek permission from the owner and remember to acknowledge them in your article. Even if you make changes to the figures, you still need to get written permission from the author, and you must give references.

Writing a research paper comes with challenges in collecting literature and giving evidence to make your paper excellent. You must be careful when gathering information from published studies to avoid plagiarism.

Writers should avoid plagiarism for some reasons. First of all, copy pasting someone else’s work is lying. Here are some of the consequences of falling into the trap of plagiarism:

  • Your sponsor may decline to fund your research
  • You may be demoted
  • You may miss a promotion

What if your field researcher and institution have allowed you to give new ideas? When they find out you did any kind of plagiarism;

  • They will reject your previous study
  • You may miss future chances
  • It will be hard to get sponsors
  • Journals may reject your work

If you don’t want to be considered a fraud, first find out how to avoid plagiarism before starting writing your research paper. The steps of avoiding plagiarism are very easy to understand. If you ever doubt any line in your paper could be copy pasted, always use online plagiarism checker tools to ensure that your work is 100% original.

Different kinds of plagiarism

Plagiarism can be of different forms. The most common type of plagiarism is paraphrasing. It is crucial to understand all forms of plagiarism and how they happen.

Complete plagiarism

Complete plagiarism is when a researcher submits someone else’s work under his or her name. This can occur when a writer pays someone to do a paper for them and submit it as their own. This is taken as intellectual stealing.

Direct plagiarism

Also known as verbatim, direct plagiarism occurs when a writer copies another author’s work word by word without using quotations and references and submits it as his or her own. This form of plagiarism is similar to complete plagiarism but refers to some parts of the source rather than the entire paper.

Source-based plagiarism

Source-based plagiarism happens when a writer cites an incorrect paper or a source that does not exist at all. It is considered misleading referencing. It also happens when a writer gets information from a secondary source but only references the primary source.


Auto or self-plagiarism occurs when a writer reuses a section of his or her past published articles without citations. This form of plagiarism happens mostly with published authors. You can avoid this by citing your sources correctly.

Mosaic plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism, also called patchwork plagiarism, is when an author takes a clause from an article and embeds it in his or her original work. This kind of plagiarism is usually hard to detect.

Accidental plagiarism

This type of plagiarism occurs when a writer:

  • Cites sources incorrectly
  • Forgets to cite sources in their work
  • Forgets to put quotations around the cited texts

An author, in this case, does not realize they’re plagiarizing the work. However, intended or unintended, plagiarism has no excuse.

Paraphrasing plagiarism

Paraphrasing plagiarism occurs when an author uses someone else’s work, makes a few changes to words or phrases, and submits it as their own. This is the most common type of plagiarism, and many writers don’t know it’s a kind of plagiarism. Even if you’re presenting another’s work in your own words, it remains their original idea, and you must credit them.

Simple guidelines to avoid plagiarism

Paraphrase and cite

Never copy-paste content from your source. Always write the information in your own words and credit the original work.

Use quotations

Use quotes on the content that has been lifted from another article. Note that the quotes should be presented the way they are in your source.

Cite your work

Any information that is not your own but taken from someone else’s paper must be cited. If you used your previous work, you need to cite yourself.

Keep records of the sources you use

Maintain records of your references. This is important as someone can ask for evidence of the references you used. With a record of your citations, you can confidently show them.

Use plagiarism checker

If you’re unsure whether your paper is plagiarized, it is okay to use plagiarism detection tools.

Bottom line

If you’re writing someone else’s work in your own words, do it correctly to avoid plagiarism. Never forget to cite the source you used in your research.

Hassaan Tohid


Dr. Hassaan Tohid MBBS, CCATP, CSOTP is a TEDx Speaker, Entrepreneur, Neuroscientist, Motivational speaker, Trainer, Certified Life Coach, and a Published author.

He has a career with three domains. An entrepreneur, an academic (neuroscientist, and a teacher), and a clinician (Addiction treatment).

As an entrepreneur, he is the founder of California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology. Where he leads the organization as the CEO. He is a trainer, a coach, and a teacher. His training includes Public Speaking, Research Writing and Research Data Analysis, Business training and coaching, life coaching, and Sales.

An academic he is a Neuroscientist and delivered a TED talk on his specialty Mirror Neurons and Dissociative Identity Disorder at TEDx UCDavissf and TEDxUAlberta. He has published over 40 scientific articles and written 3 books.

A clinician with substance use disorder treatment specialty. Dr. Tohid graduated as a medical doctor and chose mental health and substance use disorder as a domain of his clinical career.

Dr. Tohid has delivered lectures on the subjects of success, motivation, business, sales, and research writing and publishing in different languages to thousands of medical and non-medical students.

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