Originality is a necessary feature of a quality essay, speech, or report. However, it is impossible to be completely original, as all human science relies on giant’s shoulders, and we develop our knowledge based on the information provided by previous generations. The simplest answer to the “how not to get caught cheating in school” question is just don’t cheat, yet in some cases, it is hard to distinguish cheating from the proper use of other’s publically available knowledge. In practice, almost every essay or written work needs to cite research results, data, or information received from other people. In the other case, it may seem that the essay author does not play fair and tries to steal others’ work, which is called plagiarism and can end with severe disciplinary measures. However, proper referencing can help you avoid plagiarism and create good work.
Correct referencing rules
Almost all academic essays use others’ works as a basis, including scholarly journals, magazine articles, statistical data, and other kinds of sources. Before starting the work itself, collecting and organizing your future reference list can be one of the most important things. When you mention information you have withdrawn from such a source, you should mention the author to mark that you are not trying to plagiarize other’s research. However, several specific rules exist for the citation of different kinds of data that may be a subject of special attention in a plagiarism tool for teachers.
- Numerical data. When you cite statistics or other numbers, such as quantitative research results, you should properly reference a specific article, website, or database. When you cite others’ research results or conclusions, you can paraphrase them and use your own words to express the same thought, but the numbers need to be as precise as possible.
- In-text citations. You can use this type of citation when you need literal repetition of your source’s words, and most citation styles require mentioning a specific page where the phrase is in the original article. In the case of videos, movies, or podcasts, a timestamp plays the same role as a page number. Still, don’t forget to place it when you use an in-text citation in your work.
- Citation of well-known information. Yes, this is the last bullet point, and it covers the case when the quotation is unnecessary. This situation can happen when you cite information that everybody knows. For example, suppose you need to state that the Earth rotates around the Sun or mention that there exist four groups of people’s blood according to the ABO system. In that case, there is no need to reference an astronomy or medicine textbook. However, this applies only to the general information for the area of your essay.
Paraphrasing as a basis of avoiding plagiarism
Nevertheless, you need to cite information and do it correctly, and this task requires a careful balancing between direct and indirect citations. Direct citations, mentioned above as “in-text” ones, can seem the easiest way to reference one’s work without violating the academic integrity and facing problems with passing the plagiarism check. However, many professors do not give high grades to essays with many in-text citations or even set specific requirements, such as “No more than 10% of direct citations for the whole text”. The answer to the “how to avoid plagiarizing your work unintentionally” is simple – you need to have good paraphrasing skills to master this task.
Professors want to examine students’ thoughts and understanding of the topic, not their reading skills or ability to copy and reference information properly. In this case, paraphrasing is a crucial skill to cite information. When you need to paraphrase, you have to catch the central thought of the fragment that you need to mention in your essay and re-express it in other words. Paraphrasing should not be just rewriting an original sentence while adding synonyms, so be careful not to make the original and the paraphrased formulations too similar. Still, paraphrasing has its limits as an approach to citing information. For instance, it is impossible or even incorrect to rephrase formal terms or expressions used in the specific professional context to avoid possible misunderstandings.
If you are unsure about your paraphrasing skills or just lack practice in citing an abundance of references for a long essay correctly, you can use the help of the best plagiarism checker for teachers that helps minimize possible cheating. Educationisaround.com is a website where you can receive professional consultation from experts on your writing problems and get advice on improving your anti-plagiarism skills. Plagiarism software for teachers can identify incorrectly formatted direct quotes or citations that do not contain links to the original source, but paraphrasing and mentioning of original authors improve the essay quality.
Choice of reliable sources
While you have to know how to cite correctly, you need to pay attention to what you will cite. You can write an academic article or a business essay, but your information needs to be reliable and come from credible sources. Most professors warn that Wikipedia is not a good choice for completing their assignments, although it can be an excellent place to start searching for sources where the article authors have collected information to write it. Here is a shortlist of sources types that you can cite without worrying about their credibility.
- Academic journals are also known as peer-reviewed journals. You can access them through your university library and use an academic search engine, such as Google Scholar, to scroll through search results and choose ones that are the most compliant with your topic. Peer-reviewed journals contain articles previously reviewed and corrected by a board of other specialists in the same discipline, so their information is credible.
- Governmental statistics. Most statistical institutions publish results of their research or surveys regularly. You can visit a governmental website to check statistics that apply to a specific country-wide topic, such as wildfires frequency, obesity rates, or other data necessary for your essay. However, there exist reputable private institutions that conduct public opinion surveys, and you can use them as a source too.
Reputable journals. These journals should include world-known ones, such as New Yorker, Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Economist, or other, more local ones if your essay focuses on local news or problems. In this case, it is important to consider if the journal has a broad audience and high reputation, making it more careful with fact-checking and not publishing gossip or junk information. However, if you are unsure on that matter, you can consult with the assignment instructions that usually specify types and features of sources allowed for use.