Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism in Research Papers

Plagiarism is a very serious offense when it comes to writing research papers. It is critical to properly cite your information and only use your own words and ideas to offer analysis in your papers. When you use someone else’s words or ideas, this must be cited. If you fail to cite such things, you will be found guilty of plagiarism.

Use In-Text Citations

When you use ideas and words that are not your own, you must use an in-text citation to give credit to the original author. You will then fully cite the source on your reference page at the end of the paper, according to Northwestern University. You will add your in-text citations per the formatting style that your school requires. For example, some schools require that you use APA style and others require that you use MLA style. Make sure you have a copy of the style guide to ensure proper formatting.

Avoiding Self-Plagiarism

If an idea is your own and you have used in it the past, this must be properly cited. You can plagiarize yourself and this is just as serious as plagiarizing another person. Keep copies of your old research papers and any publications that you have for yourself. You will cite these as you would cite another person.


Paraphrasing can be tricky because it can still be considered using another person’s ideas in some cases. You should only use references to enhance or clarify your own ideas. This will ensure that you do not take something from someone else. In this case, you can paraphrase the information because you share the idea. Now, if you get a new idea from a source, you cannot just paraphrase it and treat it as your own. In cases like this you would use an in-text citation even when you paraphrase the information that is presented.

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