University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Five tips: How to avoid plagiarism

Many students are baffled by guidelines on avoiding plagiarism. Here are a few tips from an expert.

According to a recent scientific study, many students are fundamentally in the dark about the subtle nuances of exam regulations. Almost half of the students in the study had, for example, been uncertain about correct citation practice. And many students showed that they were inept at interpreting specific examples of plagiarism.

READ ALSO: New research: European students »surprisingly« unfamiliar with plagiarism rules

But what can you do to avoid finding yourself on the wrong side of the plagiarism guidelines?

Mads Paludan Goddiksen is a postdoc at the Section for Consumption, Bioethics and Regulation at the University of Copenhagen and teaches the current guidelines to students on a number of study programmes at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH). He offers five specific pieces of advice that can help you avoid ending up in the middle of a plagiarism case.

Put down your source text

»We see that students read in their books, or in other sources, while they write their text. And this can mean that they end up a bit too close to the text – and thereby plagiarize the wording or the sentence structures. My advice is therefore to close the book before you start writing.«

Write with the reader in mind

»Ask yourself whether it is clear to the reader where your information comes from, and whether it is clear whether it is your own text or a quotation. Unfortunately we see students with unclear references and that do not mark quotes clearly.«

If in doubt, ask

»The students tend to feel that they are stupid if they end up being in doubt. But in practice, many things are unclear and a question that needs to be assessed. Even though I teach this, I myself can be uncertain about how I should cite a specific text. If you are in doubt, you should know that this is completely normal. You can either ask your instructor or seek help from one of the many guides on how to make references.«

Write the text twice

»It is always a good idea to rewrite the text several times. It is the same principle as when you put the source text aside while you are writing. The first time you write the text, it is usually closer to the source text than the second time. It will also become a better text by the rewriting because the information gets incorporated into the context of the assignment.«

Do like the professionals

»It is always a good idea to keep in mind how researchers cite their sources. It is one thing to read a scientific article for its content, but you can also read them to understand the style. How do they paraphrase and how do they cite?«