Avoiding Unintentional Plagiarism, You Might Be Involved In

Posted on: August 22, 2019

“Originality is undetected plagiarism.” William Ralph

Being a student or doing a writing job means you have to deal with a pile of writings often. When you start writing massive content regularly, you may face the issues of unintentional plagiarism.

Plagiarism is a nasty term primarily when concerned in academic and content writing. It is a reasonably easy crime that most people commit unintentionally without even knowing it. The trick to deal with this is to understand how the way of writing works especially when creating a user-friendly content.

In this article, we will discuss the ways to avoid unintentional plagiarism. Before starting the details to tackle it, let we discuss the difference between plagiarism and unintentional plagiarism.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work as your own work. Or copying others ideas and take their credit. This may include content and manner of expression. The amount of content may be considered for plagiarism is even a single line, a quote, outline, abstract or the entire document.

There is a variety of definitions proposed by different scholars’ for plagiarism. However, most of them share the same idea and similar meaning. Plagiarism is considered a highly unethical and dishonest act; also, it equates to literary and intellectual theft.

What is unintentional plagiarism?

On the other hand, unintentional plagiarism occurs when the writer doesn’t follow the procedures for citations and paraphrasing but without the explicit intent of cheating or copying. Unintentional plagiarism may occur due to quoting an author’s exact words even after adding a reference, paraphrasing something in your own words if documented, citing an uncommon source or being loyal to the tone or words of the original source with positive intentions.

Paying particular attention to unintentional plagiarism is essential as people may get confused and fail to provide useful citations. Hence, the issue is left unnoticed. If you are just starting with writing, don’t pressurize yourself to learn all citation styles overnight. You will get used to it from time to time. This article will help you out with an awareness of unintentional plagiarism and ways to avoid severe consequences of intentional and unintentional plagiarisms.

Let’s start with the top 4 Tips to avoid unintentional plagiarism:

1. Always use more than one source in your research

You are likely to have plagiarism in your content when you are doing a last moment write up. If you are struggling with a short notice deadline, and you have not done any research, you may not be able to construct a strong statement. You will then rely on one or two sources to structure your writing. By this, you will rush to paraphrase large text sections unintentionally and may use quotes without giving credentials. Hence, to avoid this hassle at the eleventh hour, take time to research properly for analysis and plan before writing it up.

Remember, the only time when you will be writing from a single source is the time when you are writing about our own self, sharing a personal story and demonstrating your own experiences. For writing everything else, jump start to research from multiple sources to prevent your content from unintentional plagiarism.

2. Cite those sources again

If you are not sure for your sources and are doubted for their transparency, check for the citations again once you have done with writing to make sure your paraphrasing doesn’t have any similarity with the original one. If your content contains complex ideas or statistical findings, cite them as well. Include a general statement with the same facts and figures rather than quoting it into your content.

If the quote or finding is authentic and famous enough so that it cannot be changed, it’s always a good idea to quote them directly into the content along with the reference and credentials. Moreover, if you paraphrase something, mention the original source as well. In case of privacy protection, ask them if they would like to be cited or not before including it into your content.

3. Don’t “quote” large portions of someone else’s work

The more you will be dependent on other’s work, the more chances you are likely to have for plagiarism. Research papers are hugely relying on multiple sources, but it doesn’t mean you just simply duplicate other’s work. Quotes and paraphrases are useful when you are using them as a primary source to summarize the whole concept or want to add authenticity to appeal to readers. However, an over-reliance suggests that you are unable to understand the information to write it by yourself.

Hence, there is no precise cut off the way to summarize the large portions. It depends upon the writer’s ability and approach to use the work accordingly. Also, don’t forget to make notes before starting. A proper structure for any content can lead the writer to organize every paragraph to avoid repetition, adding jargons, check for vocabulary and make it mistake-free content.

4. Bring a bit of yourself into your writing

As mentioned above, the only time when you will be writing from a single source is the time when you are writing about our own self, sharing a personal story and demonstrating your own experiences. This is one of the best ways to add originality to your content. Add personal thoughts, original ideas, real-life experiences and inspiring stories to inspire your reader with the stuff they are not going to find somewhere else. It’s all about expressing yourself originally.


It’s highly essential to keep in mind that there may be consequences of unintentional plagiarism even when you are not crossing the line of copyright infringement. However, ideas, contents, researches and even visuals can be copyrighted. It’s not illegal to steal a thought from a website and write about it, but it is perceived as unethical. This can ruin your reputation in the industry.

If you are writing from a corporate client by swiping the ides from their competitors, they will notice that as well and so their audience. This will make your client terrible in the eyes of their prospect and you in the eyes of your client. And it’s not worth to take the risk for yourself and your client to damage the PR.

To avoid being stuck in the above situation, it is recommended to come up with fresh ideas, unique content and authentic sources to make it a piece worth reading. You can also share personal thoughts without limiting your point of research to one or two sources. Give a second look to the citations always before submitting your work.

Hopefully, with the above useful ways, you will be able to prevent unintentional plagiarism and make your write up a masterpiece every time.