Tips to Avoid Plagiarism When Using Too Many Quotes

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Research by its very nature implies that you will be referring extensively to another person, or more probably, many people’s works. Any topic which you set out to write your dissertation on, will invariably have some literature on it. Certainly, other people would have most likely written about it.

Your task as a scholar and researcher is to try and produce something original of your own, suggest new ways of analysis, or generate additional areas of research. Alternatively, your own research could be reiterating a conclusion someone else has already arrived at, or you could be refuting or suggesting modifications to already existing inferences. In all such cases, you would have read other people’s work in the course of your research.

One of the gravest errors in research is plagiarism. It cannot be emphasized enough that plagiarism is to be avoided at all costs. Occasionally, you will encounter situations wherein you find yourself extensively quoting one scholar or using long quotes from a number of scholars. There will also be situations where you will find that you are being required to extensively use quotes in order to build the case for your own argument. These are fairly common situations and the only solution is to attribute and credit. There is nothing such as over-citation or over quoting in research. In fact the more extensively you credit and attribute your sources, the richer and more deep your research is thought to be. Hence, do not shy away from citations.

There are different ways to cite another source’s work. You can directly write the author’s name and year of publication of the article/book/essay within brackets immediately following the quote. More details about the publication can appear in an appendix. You can use footnotes as well. Make sure you organize your footnotes well enough so that each quote matches its rightful author. Given that you will be submitting your work to an expert in the field, do not assume that they will not be able discern if you have plagiarized. They are most likely familiar with the book and texts which you have used, and will immediately be able to tell if an idea has been plagiarized or if it is your own.

Sometimes, you will find that you have arrived at ideas as a result of, or following from other people’s ideas. It is important to cite and attribute the original ideas which led you to your original conclusions. A great deal of what you read will influence you and impact the process of your thinking. Wherever possible, quote and cite. It is the safest way, and there is absolutely no harm in giving credit when it is due.

Plagiarism is considered to be one of the most serious offences in the academic field. A number of painstakingly built reputations of eminent people have been tarnished at fairly advanced stages of their career because they were accused of plagiarizing. As a young researcher, you should certainly make all possible effort to not plagiarize.