How to avoid plagiarism? A Complete Guide

Plagiarism is the act of appropriating the ideas or words of another, without recognizing the author. It is a form of fraud against which universities are equipped, thanks to anti-plagiarism software for schools. The prevention of plagiarism is therefore extremely important in the academic sphere and you can avoid committing it simply:

  1. Keep track of the sources you use to do your research.
  2. Paraphrase or quote from your sources (and add your own ideas).
  3. Credit the original author in in-text and bibliography.
  4. Use a student plagiarism checker before handing in your work.


  1. Keep track of the sources used
  2. Paraphrase or make a quote
  3. Credit the original author
  4. Use a plagiarism checker before you hand in your work

1. Keep track of the sources used

When you do research for your academic work (a thesis or a dissertation), you use many sources such as books, reports, websites, videos or scientific articles. Plagiarism is when you forget to cite the original source of an idea used in your work.

To avoid plagiarism, keep track of each of the sources used as you go. As soon as you write down an idea, also write down the source of the document in which you found it. You can then easily find your sources and will not forget where each piece of information comes from.

If you have consulted more than one source on the Internet, bookmark these pages to find them easily.

2. Paraphrase or quote

When writing your work, if you want to share an idea or information from a source, you should either paraphrase or cite the source.

To quote

To quote means to copy and paste a text verbatim. The text must be introduced in your own words, put in quotation marks, and correctly attributed to its author ( in the text or in a footnote ).

As natural selection acts only by the accumulation of slight, successive and favorable variations, it cannot produce any significant or sudden modification; it can only act in very short and slow steps ( Darwin, 1859, p. 510 ).

The full source should also appear in your bibliography.


Paraphrasing Tool means using your own words to explain someone else's idea. Paraphrasing allows you to give only the most important information in a passage.

You must nevertheless indicate the source of the ideas in the text (or in the footnote) and in the bibliography.

According to the latest statistics and events, the coronavirus remains a global headline problem. These figures are terrifying and although the European Union is currently doing better, funds (750 billion euros) have just been released to deal with the situation. The United States, for example, is still the country that suffers the most from the coronavirus: more than 140,000 people have died and 3.8 million are infected with the virus. Currently, Brazil is one of the most affected countries in Latin America with more than 80,000 victims ( Le Figaro, 2020 ).

In the paraphrased example, the author's main point has been rephrased and condensed; the order of the information and the structure of the sentences have been changed. To avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing, you need to make sure that your text is not too similar to the original.


3. Credit the original author

Whenever you use an idea from a source, referencing that source in the bibliography is necessary. The way to write the source in the bibliography depends on the citation style you use ( APA, MLA …).

Check with your university to find out which citation style you should use. Once you have chosen your quote style, you will need to use that style throughout your work.

Example with APA

Source in text

A recent textbook revealed that… (Debret, 2020, p. 20).

Bibliographic reference

Debret, J. (2020, April 10). Scribbr APA Handbook. Scribbr.

4. Use a plagiarism checker before you hand in your work

Of plagiarism detectors for students exist. They allow you to check your document for plagiarism before you return it.

If you have plagiarized, the software will detect it and tell you the original sources of it. You will then just have to cite correctly the sources indicated in the text and in the bibliography.