What to Do if You're Not Sure if Your Paper is Plagiarized

Posted by Splice, Essay Tips Chief Writer

How to Avoid Plagiarism. Okay, so you're already done writing the draft for your paper. After proofreading and double-checking it, you've decided to produce your final draft. You're about to submit your paper to your teacher when something crossed your mind. Even after doing a bit of researching and reading, you're still not sure if your paper, or a small part of it, is plagiarized. You're not sure if you've properly cited ideas in your material that are not yours. Worse, you're not even sure which parts of your paper might be plagiarized. In short, you want to check if your work is plagiarized. What to do to avoid plagiarism?

The best thing to do is to first consult with your teacher. Doing so would save you a lot of trouble ahead of time. It will also give your teacher reasons to believe, assuming that there were plagiarized parts in your paper, that it wasn't intentional, thereby saving you from being expelled from school or getting a failing grade. You have to remember that your teacher is your primary resource person in your writing tasks, and he or she is at the same time your best ally to seek guidance. But what if your teacher is not available at that time?

The next best thing to do, then, is to submit your paper to an online plagiarism checker. Determine if your school offers the service. If it does, then ask for the details on how you can be able to acquire a student account and to submit a softcopy of your paper. If it does not, try to get in touch with someone you know who has one, perhaps a former teacher or a student-friend, and then ask permission to use the account to cross-check if your paper has plagiarized parts.

Of course, there is always the almighty Google. Try searching paragraphs and sentences in your paper in the search engine and see if something exactly similar pops out. Also, see if there are ideas in the internet which are similar to your ideas in your paper. If there are, identify those parts in your paper and properly put the necessary in-text citations as well as references in the references page or works cited page. Or you can try to paraphrase words in your paper. This method is quite tedious and time-consuming, especially if you're going to search for similar paragraphs in your lengthy thesis or dissertation.

If technology does not bode well in you, then try visiting your library and look in the catalog for books or essays with the same content. If there are any, try to follow the convention of attributing ideas to their original authors by citing them inside the corresponding parts of your text. Try consulting the school librarian, too. He knows books like air to lungs. This step, however, also consumed much time since searching within an entire library of books is not an easy task.

Or if you want, you can let your friends, family and even strangers read your work. Ask them if they can sense any idea in your paper that is suspect of plagiarism. But don't take much credit for whatever it is that they may tell you. It is always more useful and beneficial to consult a person with the proper authority to precisely determine all the plagiarized parts in your work.

Another thing to do is to edit your work by removing the parts which you think are most likely suspect of committing plagiarism and replacing them with sentences or paragraphs that you know for certain are the ideas of specific authors. After you have carefully replaced them, be sure to place the proper citations for the new sentences or paragraphs which you have inserted. That way, you can be certain that you have properly attributed the ideas in your paper to the rightful authors.

If all else fails, your last resort is to rewrite your paper. This could mean you have to either rewrite your entire paper or rewrite the parts that you think are plagiarized. It might be disheartening or a frustrating option, but then again it's better to submit a paper of your own rather than a plagiarized material.

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