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Gordon-Conwell Writing Center

Avoiding Plagiarism

So What?

Whether a person is writing for school, work, or ministry, plagiarism is a serious offense. Plagiarism may happen intentionally or unintentionally. Even unintentional plagiarism will negatively affect a writer’s reputation, and depending on the situation, both types of plagiarism can lead to serious consequences. Therefore, it is important to know how to avoid plagiarism.

Summarized Explanation

  • Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional.
  • Plagiarism can involve published or unpublished work.
  • Plagiarism has many forms.
  • Plagiarism must be avoided.


Detailed Explanation

It is typically expected that a writer will support his/her ideas with perspectives from others. Incorporating others’ ideas into a text can be a great way of substantiating one’s claims. However, a writer must do so responsibly. Plagiarism occurs when a writer borrows information, whether published or unpublished, from another person without crediting him/her. Thus, plagiarism is dishonest and unprofessional. There are many types of plagiarism, and all must be avoided.

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

  • When gathering support for a written text, take detailed notes about each source so that it is clear what information corresponds to which source.
  • Always accompany quotes and paraphrases with original thoughts, and make a clear distinction between others’ ideas and your own by fully integrating support.
  • Avoid copying and pasting large chunks of text unless you are purposely and accurately including a block quote.
  • Know how to effectively paraphrase.
  • Give credit where credit is due, even for unpublished work.
  • Do not recycle even your own writing unless it is first approved.
  • Accurately follow formatting guidelines for in-text citations/references or footnotes/bibliography entries.
  • Never allow another person to write something for you and then pass it off as your own.
  • When writing, try to record your own original thoughts before incorporating relevant support from others; trying to think originally while simultaneously referring to others’ work can lead to unintentional plagiarism.
  • Before submitting a written text, run it through a plagiarism checker, such as Grammarly.