Plagiarism is when you take someone’s work or idea and present it as yours. With so many online tools, it is easy to spot when you plagiarize in a sentence.
In Nigeria, we call it “copy and paste”. Plagiarism does not demonstrate writing prowess. Worse still, it reflects a lack of mental stimulation or thinking ability. While plagiarism is largely overlooked in many African institutions, it’s advisable to avoid it as much as possible. Someday, if you intend to take an academic career seriously, there might be a day of reckoning. Some professors have lost their jobs. This does not mean you cannot use other people’s work. Of course, you can! That’s the essence of publishing anyway.
What is wrong is taking/hijacking a sizeable chunk (More than 7-10 words) and using it in your work without making reference to the original source. The following examples will help explain the different types of plagiarism.
Types of Plagiarism and Examples
Here is an original statement from my MSc thesis (It’s been published here by the way😉):
Note that the above statement is from the work published by Felix Eze and Juliet Inyang in 2020. Here are different ways of plagiarising this sentence
Scenario 1 (Direct Plagiarism):
If someone were to use my writing verbatim (word-for-word), this would be *Direct Plagiarism*. Example:
In Nigeria, airport management should regularly train frontline staff on customer service communication skills. This would go a long way to achieve service quality.
Did you notice my exact phrase (in italics)? Is this plagiarism? YES!
Scenario 2 (Self-Plagiarism):
If I (the co-author) were to use these exact words in another work of mine, this would be *Self- Plagiarism*. Example:
It cannot be overemphasized that airport management should regularly train frontline staff on customer service communication skills. Aviation service quality is important.
Did you notice the exact phrase from my original work? Is this plagiarism? YES!
Scenario 3 (Mosaic Plagiarism):
What if you only intended to borrow my exact words but you did not use quotation marks. Or you were to paraphrase my words (using synonyms) while maintaining the same writing structure and meaning? That would be *Mosaic Plagiarism*. Example:
So airport directors should always educate frontline employees on customer service communication skills.
Did you notice that despite the synonyms used, the sentence structure is exactly like mine? Is this plagiarism? YES!
Scenario 4 (Accidental Plagiarism):
Now what if you had no idea that I had written those exact words, or you unintentionally failed to cite my work? That would be *Accidental Plagiarism*. Example:
Many persons may feel that it is the duty of airport management to regularly train frontline staff on customer service communication skills. Well, everyone should be involved in such training.
Is this plagiarism? YES! Though it was accidental.
How to Write Plagiarism Free Essay
So how do you write without committing the grievous offence of plagiarism?
First, understand that in academics it is ok to have some acceptable level of plagiarism. Different institutions have pegged acceptable rate of plagiarism (the highest I’ve seen is 30%). This is because, in academic writing, there are a lot of justifications or debates surrounding already published work. My dear institution, the University of Calabar sets its acceptable plagiarism level at 10%. You can check the plagiarism rate of your essay easily using any free paper checker for plagiarism such as Grammarly and Quetext. Then follow the steps below.
- Step 1: Adopt Effective Note Taking Strategies
Plagiarism can be avoided by good note-taking skills. While you find interesting points you would like to use for your writing, note the source and cite them in the work. Example:
As noted by Inyang (2020), airport management has a duty to ensure that front line staff are vested with the knowledge of customer service communication.
Is this plagiarism? NO! Note that I acknowledged the source and I did not write word-for-word.
- Step 2: Make Use of Quotation Marks
If you really need to use exact words, then make use of quotation marks and cite the source. Example:
It cannot be overemphasized that “airport management should regularly train frontline staff on customer service communication skills” (Inyang, 2020).
Did you notice the quotation marks and the reference to my original work? Is this plagiarism? NO!
- Step 3: Be Authentic In Your Writing
Finally, to reduce the high level of similarity or plagiarism, you can increase your level of originality. While writing, I constantly seek ways to add value to any text I copy. Notice the value added in this example:
In her research, Inyang (2020) emphasized the need for airport staff to be trained in customer service communication. While this is true, there may be other trainings that have been overlooked by studies such as Inyang’s. Hence, it is important to explore this subject further.
- Step 4: Use Some of the Best Paraphrasing Tool Online
While you may be able to keep track of and cite sources, it can be mentally draining to paraphrase every sentence. Thanks to technology paraphrasing can be done with ease. I use free paraphrasing tool such as Quillbot to paraphrase. See an example in the photo below.
For more interesting research resources, click here.