When writing an academic or scientific work, plagiarism can be severely punished, even career-ending. A major advantage of avoiding plagiarism is that you leverage your sources by combining your knowledge with your research findings. To create original, high-quality writing, it is crucial that you cite your sources correctly. 

That being said, it is not always easy to know what to cite and how to do it. Unintentional plagiarism exists in many pieces of writing. Is paraphrasing allowed? Can you reuse a paper from the previous year? Should you cite the translation of a scientific fact? ...

To avoid pitfalls, there are tips to prevent similarities with suitable software.


Summary : 


Defining plagiarism: intellectual property theft


Plagiarism means using someone’s else words or ideas without giving them credit. You cannot present quotations as your own ideas. You cannot use one’s work or statement as yours, even if that person gave you his consent.

Also, intellectual property law requires compliance with citation standards in your essays and academic projects.


Polytechnique Montreal University provides its definition on its page "How to avoid plagiarism":

"Plagiarism involves an act committed intentionally by a person who appropriates the work of another and presents it as their own. The act of using an entire text, excerpt (sentence, paragraph, chapter, etc.), image, etc. without mentioning the author(s) or source(s) is plagiarism. The "plagiarist" is at fault and is criminally liable." 


What exactly is plagiarism?
More about Compilatio Studium

Using similarity detection software

Compilatio Studium gives students the opportunity to make a success of their studies.

When writing a dissertation, a thesis or a research paper, one gathers a lot of information from different authors. We think we have written a paragraph ourselves, but very often we unintentionally plagiarise:

  • rephrasing what someone else has already said,
  • translating a quote without mentioning its author, 
  • recycling an old documentary work...

Most universities are equipped with plagiarism detection software, certainly Compilatio Magister.

To be sure you have cited all your sources before handing in your paper, play it safe. Have your work checked by Compilatio Studium

Compilatio Studium

Understanding what Compilatio Studium brings you

Compilatio Studium combines similarity detection software with a clever toolkit.

Analysing your document with Compilatio's Studium software validates the quality of your assignment

  • The percentage of duplicated text,
  • The complete list of sources used,
  • An indication of the locations of the sources found,
  • The analysis report.

The toolbox saves you time in finding information about plagiarism:

  • The definition of plagiarism in all its forms,
  • Citation methodology, 
  • Tips for writing.

Avoiding plagiarism: emphasise sources with the software


Translating a text or quote from a foreign language requires careful attention. To avoid plagiarism, you must indicate the source of any quotations. 


Translated quote

Using a translated quote without indicating its source is equivalent to copying and pasting, and this is commonly called: translingual plagiarism.

Example: "Always choose the most difficult way; there you will not meet competitors." Translated quote from Charles de Gaulle

> [Compilatio's article] "Translation = plagiarism?".


Generic quote 

Using the words of an author whose work has fallen into the public domain does not require a citation. This also applies to information considered common knowledge

Example of a work that has fallen into the public domain: "Voltaire published his copyrighted work 'Candide' in 1759. He died on May 30, 1778. 'Candide' then fell into the public domain, thus becoming freely accessible on January 1, 1849." According to the Feedbooks website's classification.

> [Compilatio's article] "Is it necessary to cite what is common knowledge (known to all)?".


mistakes avoid plagiarism

Double citation 

You may use an author's words or ideas taken from a document that quotes another document. In this case, you should indicate the primary and secondary sources for the quote.

This is called a double citation, which allows the reader to find the original source of a quote while also highlighting your research and analysis work.

Example of a double citation where the primary source and secondary source are cited: 

  • According to Niskanen, 1971, quoted in Mueller, 2003, p. 364)...
  • According to Brassard (cited in Michaud, 2006), there is no difference [...].

> [Compilatio's article] "A primary source cited by a secondary source: Should you cite them both?".


Quote from a previous academic assignment

If you have recycled a previous assignment, you should mention this so as not to self-plagiarize

Example: "The quote taken from your academic work", Quote from my research paper "NAME OF ASSIGNMENT", completed on XXX, as part of ...

Self-plagiarism deprives the reader of their right to access the original sources of knowledge, according to Michelle BERGADAA, a plagiarism specialist. It also makes it harder to differentiate between new writings and what already exists.

> [Compilatio's article] "Beware of self-plagiarism".



Referencing graphs and images

When you use photos, images, graphics or any other visual that you have found through a search engine, for example, and that therefore do not belong to you, you must cite them. Any image, chart, figure or graphic design that are not yours must also be acknowledged either by citing the document source underneath the relevant item or within a footnote.

> [Compilatio's article] "Why use royalty-free images and graphics during class?".

Writing and quoting tips

Paraphrasing or rewording

Restate in your own words an interesting passage in order to be more concise, to support your argument and your writing style. However, you must always reference your source (in-text or via a footnote).

> [Compilatio's article] "The power of Paraphrasing".


Anonymous quote 

Even when the author of a work is unknown, you should mention them. For this, you just need to add "Anonymous". 

Example of an anonymous quote: "For a colander, having holes is not a defect." -Anonymous

> [Compilatio's article] "Should anonymous sources be referenced?".


Citing the source in your bibliography

For any writing assignment, you must create a bibliography at the end of your document. This will list all your references and must include all the details for your readers to identify and retrieve them easily. While it testifies of your research work and of your respect to author copyrights, this reference list also increases the credibility of your arguments.

You can organise your bibliography however you wish by adopting the citation standard required by your institution or one that best suits you.

Make a point to find out about your institution's regulatory framework in this regard. Opt for a single citation standard throughout your document and for all your cited sources. 


Your bibliography at the end of the document should include all the documents you used during your research. Don't forget to cite the online references, pages and resources used during your research as part of a webography. A webography may constitute all or part of your bibliography, depending on the nature of your sources.

So, what are you waiting for? To enhance your work, opt for an effective bibliography! 

Build an effective bibliography


Using tools: bibliographic management

There are free tools to help you automatically generate your bibliography to save time and reduce errors related to your layout/formatting.


Zotero and Endnote

Zotero is the "personal research assistant" most used by students around the world. Moreover, its interface is very intuitive and easy to use. Zotero allows you to automatically generate your bibliography by organising your references according to your chosen citation standard. Sometimes, free training on how to use Zotero is offered during the year (Also, check with your university library.). 

In contrast, Endnote incorporates your different sources into your bibliography: pdf file, document, website, etc. In addition, EndNote lets you share bibliographic references with your classmates and colleagues, thanks to its digital Coworking space: EndNoteWeb.com  


avoid plagiarism tool


Did you know that Word processing references your bibliographic sources? To avoid plagiarism, Word applies the specified citation standard. Your sources thus comply with the given instructions, namely to apply the same citation method across your entire academic document. On the other hand, it won't do the research for you ;-) 

You now have at your disposal all the tools necessary to cite your sources correctly and avoid plagiarism, so you can focus more on your research work. 

To recap, plagiarism or intellectual identity theft is a very serious offence and punishable by severe penalties. However, you can avoid plagiarism by adopting a responsible and honest attitude. To add real value to your research assignments, use quotations and paraphrasing. Just remember to mention your sources to respect copyright.

By avoiding plagiarism, you demonstrate your ability to do scholastic research and your knowledge of research methodology. You now know what plagiarism is and how to avoid plagiarism. Be original and unleash your creativity. Happy writing!




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