Plagiarism at its core is the use of someone else’s words, research, or ideas and not giving proper credit to those individuals. The most blatant use of plagiarism in academic writing is either copying and pasting, or simply slightly rephrasing the original text, once again without properly formatting or citing the source. Plagiarism is dishonest as it is virtually a theft of intellectual ideas, but it should be noted that it is not always intentional. Sometimes, one may forget to cite a source or incorporate a minor idea into the thesis feeling that it does not warrant citation. However, no matter how potentially insignificant these issues are, they are also plagiarism and can be punished just as much as copying and pasting. Plagiarism is highly important in any type of writing – academic, journalistic, and others, in order to protect the integrity of the material. Avoiding plagiarism provides much more credibility and feasibility to one’s work.
As mentioned earlier, plagiarism can be intentional or accidental. Intentional plagiarism should simply be avoided because it is currently much easier to track with digital text systems and can result in severe consequences such as expulsion from an educational or research institution. Meanwhile, accidental plagiarism can be avoided largely through careful organization. As one conducts research and searches for ideas, immediately make annotations of the source next to each piece of information one gathers. Academic writing encourages to incorporate previous research or ideas into one’s writing in order to analyze it or support the thesis, with the premise that original thought will be added. Once writing the paper, once a piece of external information is integrated, immediately provide a citation, both in-text and in references at the end of the paper according to one of the widely accepted academic citation styles chosen for the paper. Properly paraphrasing or quoting information along with credible citations are key towards avoiding plagiarism and maintaining academic integrity.