2023 Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism: How to Avoid Plagiarism in the World of AI

In the digital age, navigating plagiarism complexities safeguards ethical integrity. Innovations such as AI both complicate and assist this process, helping authors protect their work and reputations.

Updated on May 21, 2024

two researchers avoid plagiarism in research

When an author uses someone else’s work without providing the proper acknowledgements, it is plagiarism. While there are various degrees of plagiarism, it is always unethical and sometimes illegal.

In this era when information is readily available in multiple iterations, the lines between original and imitation are often blurred. Because it is difficult to discern which is which, an updated understanding of plagiarism is imperative for both authors and readers. 

Whether you're a student, a researcher, or a professional, grasping the nuances of plagiarism, especially in the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI), is crucial for maintaining academic and ethical integrity. In this article, we explore the different forms of plagiarism, and discuss effective strategies for prevention.

What are the types of plagiarism?

Though scholars and artists throughout history faced accusations of copying the ideas and works of others without proper acknowledgment, the practice was generally accepted. Since Samuel Johnson defined the word ‘plagiarism’ in his 1755 dictionary as “A thief in literature; one who steals the thoughts or writings of another.”, however, it has been considered universally unethical. 

Since that time, several modes of plagiarism have been identified, defined, and placed along an ethical scale from bad to worst and measured by varying degrees based on intent. Here are 10 of the most common types of plagiarism:

  1. Direct plagiarism without citation: copy and pasted
  2. Direct plagiarism with citation: lacks quotes or full citation
  3. Self-plagiarism: failure to cite your previously published work
  4. Single-source plagiarism: changes keywords without attribution
  5. Multiple-source plagiarism: mixing copied texts to appear new
  6. Blended plagiarism: using copied text to fill gaps
  7. Wholesale or partial plagiarism of ideas: paraphrasing with no original additions
  8. Unoriginal work as plagiarism: very similar structure and content of an existing work
  9. Incidental plagiarism: citing incorrect or non-existent source
  10. Accidental plagiarism: misquoting or unintentional paraphrasing

Avoiding plagiarism

The methods needed for avoiding plagiarism differ depending on why and how an author is reusing some else's work. For example:

  • Quotations: Authors may use the exact words of others, or direct quotations, when they offer a voice of authority or have notable impact in their original form. The quoted material must be introduced, enclosed with quotation marks, and cited appropriately.
  • Paraphrasing: The process of restating someone else's ideas in your own words is paraphrasing. By changing the wording when expressing an existing idea, authors can retain their own voice and flow in the manuscript. It requires proper attribution to avoid unintentional plagiarism.
  • When Using AI: AI writing tools have limited capabilities and should be used as a supplement to, not replacement for, the writing process. To avoid plagiarism, always conduct thorough research and verify all AI-generated content and sources. Then, incorporate that information into your work to create an accurate and original piece.

Proper citations

As the act of plagiarism pivots on the presence or absence of assigning proper credit to an original work, mastering the elements of citations is essential. Authors must first identify which citation style is required in a particular field or publication and then use it consistently throughout the work.

Generally speaking, these fields employ the following citation styles with guides to each in the links:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) style: Education, Psychology, and Sciences. 
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) style: Humanities. 
  • Chicago/Turabian style: Business, History, and Fine Arts. 

Becoming familiar with these citation styles and guidelines means authors can efficiently analyze the accuracy of citations. But writing them from scratch is cumbersome. There are countless citation generating tools available that help organize references and ensure correct formatting. Along with the above manuals, these are a few free and proven resources: 

Use a Plagiarism Checker

With the rapid development of the internet and AI, exposing plagiarism has grown more sophisticated. Now that professors, editors, and authors alike have equal access to plagiarism detection tools, the level of accountability is higher and tolerance is lower.  

Plagiarism checkers function by using advanced software to probe databases and the internet to identify matches between your writing and existing texts. Because it is almost guaranteed that someone on the receiving end is going to put your work through one of these tools, leveraging AI-powered plagiarism checkers to scan your work first is advantageous.

There is a multitude of free plagiarism checkers available that are appropriate for simpler, shorter, or more casual writing pieces including:

To ensure the originality of longer, more complex writing, authors need to employ a more advanced paid plagiarism checker like:

Quick tips for avoiding plagiarism

Authors can employ many simple tactics throughout the writing process to avoid plagiarizing the work of others, such as:

  • Taking good notes: Instead of copying key points and ideas verbatim while scanning a source, try reading an entire section of the work and then writing notes about it in your own words. Also, immediately record the sources you consult while researching alongside its corresponding notes. This will ensure accurate citation later. 
  • Paraphrasing: When taking notes on a possible source, refrain from merely replacing some of the words with synonyms and actually paraphrase it to achieve greater clarity. This means recording your own interpretation of a work. Remember to still include the citation to give the original author proper credit.
  • Quoting: When an author’s words are very impactful and you may consider using them verbatim, use quotation marks throughout the writing process. Continuously match the quotation with both the author’s name and the source’s location.
  • Attributing: Use signal phrases like, “I believe” and “In my opinion,” when expressing your unique insights to clearly differentiate from those of others. Attribute all borrowed ideas, facts, and findings to their associated source by implementing proper citation practices. If you write something from memory and do not have a source, search the related literature to find one. Do not assume that the information is common knowledge, find an appropriate source, and create a citation.

Final thoughts

Understanding how to navigate the complexities of plagiarism is essential for not only maintaining ethical integrity, but also safeguarding your work’s validity. Today’s digital world of internet access and AI tools complicates this obligation for authors, though. 

On the one hand, these innovations may increase the likelihood of plagiarism by providing a barrage of information in an instant. While on the other hand, they effectively combat instances of plagiarism by equipping authors and editors with indispensable tools. 

By discerning the various forms of plagiarism and mastering how to avoid them within the context of today, authors can protect both their work and their reputations. 

Plagiarismai and aje
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