How to avoid plagiarism

Have you ever left an essay to the night before it’s due? Are you familiar with the pressure of writing a coherent and intelligent piece of work in one day? The temptation to copy and paste from a better essay can be strong, and if no one knows, what’s the harm? 

The harm is that you’re stealing someone else's work, and that’s known as plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious offence that can lead to some dire consequences, including legal action and expulsion from your school. 

But don’t worry! It sounds scarier than it is, and we’re going to tell you how you can avoid plagiarism and ensure that your reputation as a great student continues throughout your academic career. 

What is plagiarism? 

But first off, what even is plagiarism? 

Plagiarism is the act of using someone else's work, ideas, or words without proper acknowledgment. It is a serious academic offense that can result from unintentional mistakes or a lack of understanding about proper citation and paraphrasing. Of course, some people do it intentionally, but we know you’d never do that. 

Plagiarism can take various forms, but the main five are: 

  1. Global plagiarism: copying an entire piece of text and passing it off as your own without proper citation 

  1. Verbatim plagiarism: copying someone’s words (not necessarily written) 

  1. Paraphrasing plagiarism: mixing copied text with some original words, to try and deceive readers 

  1. Patchwork plagiarism: putting together different sources to create something new and passing it off as your own 

  1. Self-plagiarism: reusing your own work without proper citation, which is also considered unethical in academic writing 

Remember, plagiarism is not limited to text alone! It can also include images, graphs, and ideas as well. So, when crediting your sources in an essay, make sure to credit all artists, philosophers, and other academics whose ideas and images you’ve used to illustrate your point. 

The consequences of plagiarism 

What happens when you accidentally plagiarize? Understanding the consequences of plagiarism is crucial for international students, as it can affect your academic and personal lives. Here are some of the most common repercussions: 

  • Academic penalties: you may receive a failing grade on an assignment or, in severe cases, face expulsion from your educational institution 

  • Damage to reputation: plagiarism can tarnish a student's reputation, making it difficult to gain the trust of professors and peers 

  • Legal consequences: plagiarism can have legal implications, particularly when copyrighted material is involved. Copyright laws are absolute and breaking them can result in fines or even a prison sentence. Those who write for a living, such as journalists and authors, must be especially careful 

  • Stunts personal development: plagiarism inhibits your ability to develop essential writing and critical thinking skills, which are valuable for your future career. If you steal other people's work and pass it off as your own, you are not advancing your own skills or growing as a person 

How to avoid plagiarism 

Now that we've established the gravity of plagiarism, let's explore some effective strategies for how you can avoid it! 

  • Understand your sources: when using external sources, read and comprehend them thoroughly. Summarize the key points and write down your own thoughts before incorporating them into your work 

  • Cite properly: use citation styles such as MLA, APA, or Chicago to give credit to the original source. Ensure you include in-text citations and a bibliography with a list of references 

  • Paraphrase wisely: if you need to include someone else's ideas, paraphrase them in your own words, maintaining the original meaning. You must still always cite the source 

  • Use plagiarism detection tools: utilize online tools such Grammarly to check your work for unintentional plagiarism. These tools can highlight potential issues and help you rectify them 

  • Plan your time: procrastination can lead to last-minute panic, increasing the temptation to plagiarize. Plan your assignments well in advance to avoid such situations 

  • Seek guidance: don't hesitate to ask your Kaplan teachers or academic advisors for guidance on citation and avoiding plagiarism. They're there to help you! 

  • Practice your writing skills: the more you practice writing, the better you become at expressing your own ideas, reducing the need to rely on other peoples’ work 

  • Use quotations sparingly: if you must use a direct quote, enclose it in quotation marks and provide proper citation immediately 

  • Beware of AI and plagiarism: using AI can be a useful tool if you’re struggling to write an essay, and for the most part AI generated content is plagiarism free. However, as it becomes more widely used in business, there are concerns regarding AI programs taking other people’s words and art and adapting it to create something new. AI might also not cite ideas or theories created by other people, which is a form of plagiarism. Use the above tips even when dealing with AI generated text 


Mastering the art of avoiding plagiarism is essential for academic success and personal growth. Luckily, all Kaplan courses and Kaplan teachers can help you understand how to avoid plagiarism while also improving your overall English skills! You'll not only get to enhance your language skills for the future, but also build a reputation as an ethical and responsible student. 


There’s really no downside to a Kaplan English course! Start your journey today and become the best person you can be. What are you waiting for?  Contact Us | Kaplan International Languages

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