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Understanding accidental plagiarism and how to avoid it

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There are several types of plagiarism that a writer can commit in their writing career. The main cause of plagiarism is writers’ block and the death of creativity in the path of writing. Regardless of your level of preparedness, it comes a time when words don’t seem to be flowing, forcing you to look for help from other written resources. And that is where plagiarism sets in.

Many people only think of plagiarism as copying or borrowing someone’s work, and using it word for word without citing makes plagiarism look less serious. That explains why so many people commit plagiarism even without recognizing it.

What is accidental plagiarism?

It is the kind of plagiarism that occurs when you don’t have the right to paraphrase, quote, and citing skills and yet use someone else’s texts or ideas in your work. Failing to master these skills may lead to misattribution of someone else’s work or idea as your own.

If you paraphrase texts from a book or research and fail to include an in-text citation, the text qualifies as a plagiarized piece. Including the text source in your reference list after completing your writing doesn’t rub it off as a plagiarized text.

It is your duty to understand how to cite and reference sources and when to do it. You should also understand the rules of the citation style you are to use if you are handling an academic assignment.

Accidental plagiarism is different from intentional plagiarism. You will be presenting someone else’s work or idea deliberately as your original work with intentional plagiarism. It involves copying and pasting information directly from sources into your essay or class assignment and other writing types without quoting or citing the owners knowingly.

Either way, intentional or accidental plagiarism both attract penalties and other consequences. As they say, “ignorance is no defense.” And that is why when you feel stuck and cannot handle a task or paper, you can always seek help on writing an papers by DoMyEssay platform.

How to correct unintentional or accidental plagiarism

Since accidental plagiarism happens without your knowledge, it is best to check your work for plagiarism before you submit it. You can follow the following tips to correct the texts.

1. Correct your citations and give credits to the authors

Before you go about doing the citations, first find out the correct ways of doing it depending on the type of write-up you are handling. Once you have the best procedures, you should implement them by properly citing the texts that you failed to cite previously.

You shouldn’t pay unverified persons or get substandard citation tips elsewhere when you can get them from reputable online citation tools. Go to your bibliography and reference area and revise them as well. Include relevant markers indicating that you got the idea you used from someone or somewhere else.

2. Do research on proper paraphrasing

If you thought paraphrasing is simply changing a few words in a sentence and you are done, then you have to rethink. If you only use synonyms and change some words in the sentence, it will still count as plagiarism. Proper paraphrasing involves changing the sentence and paragraph structure completely and still credit the original owner of the text you have paraphrased.

3. Limit your citations

While citing work that is not your own is recommended to avoid plagiarism, your entire work should not be made up of citations and quoted texts. If you use too many citations in your critical analysis or any other type of writing, you will be making your work look like a repetition of other authors’ combined work. You can avoid this by limiting the percentage of quoted and cited texts to about 10% in your entire work.

4. Distinguish your ideas from those of other writers

Make it easier for your readers to understand where your ideas start and end. Make it easy for them to distinguish between your ideas and those of the writers you have quoted or paraphrased from. In the end, they should understand if the texts they are reading are yours and not those of other writers before reading the citations.

Possible consequences of plagiarism

Whether it is intended or accidental plagiarism, the consequences remain the same. If your content is plagiarized, you will certainly face the consequences of owning plagiarized work. Here are some of the consequences you are likely to face:

  • You can get fined, attract penalties, and even face charges in court.
  • You can be dropped from the course or fail the class.
  • Your reputation gets damaged, which affects even your original work.
  • The institution can expel you, shattering your academic dreams.

The best way to avoid these likely consequences of plagiarism is to avoid it. Ensure the work you present is clear of plagiarism by checking in advance before delivering.


Carelessness, sluggishness, and writers’ block are some of the main causes of plagiarism. Sometimes it is better to look for the root cause and solve the problem than go for immediate solutions that don’t last. So the next time you get tempted to borrow from someone else’s work, find out ways of beating the causes of plagiarism. You can try solving writers’ block issues or improve your concentration to avert carelessness. All in all, always remember that accidental plagiarism will still qualify as plagiarism.

Story by Thomas Moore. Moore is a part-time teacher and a custom writing professional.

augusta free press
augusta free press