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How to Avoid Plagiarism in a Dissertation

August 17, 2015 - Posted to Dissertation and its parts

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How to Avoid Plagiarism in a Dissertation

You’ve been around the block a time or two. And you certainly can provide a pretty decent answer to the question, “What is plagiarism?” But just to be certain, let’s define all of its facets. First and foremost, plagiarism is using the words or ideas of another as your own. The “words” part is pretty easy. If you use another author’s exact words you use quotation marks or set it off, single spaced, with credit being given. The concept of using someone else’s ideas can become a bit murkier. For example, did you really get the idea from an author, or did something the author said give you an idea? This is sometimes a subjective “call” on your part, but part of learning how to avoid plagiarism charges is this: When in doubt, cite the idea and give credit to the author. If you adopt a policy of doing this, you will never had a worry.

How to Avoid Plagiarism in a Dissertation – It’s Mostly an Issue with the Literature Review and Instruments

Unless you are a totally unscrupulous student who is attempting to “lift” an entire dissertation from someone, there are not a lot of opportunities to plagiarize in a dissertation. You have designed an original research project and you implement it, gather the data, and report and analyze the results. Further, if you have submitted your proposal and had it approved, you have probably already cited the most important research that has already been done on the topic by others. It would be foolish to try to plagiarize in this situation, because at least someone on your committee would be familiar with the research you are trying to plagiarize. There are two parts of your dissertation, however, in which you must be very careful – your literature review and the research instruments you are using, especially if you are claiming that they are original and designed by you.

  1. The Literature Review: Remember, this is like a research paper in many ways. You are summarizing the work that others have done, and those others must be carefully named and given credit for their work. Fortunately, because everyone understands that you are really addressing what has gone before you, failure to cite something will probably not be a horrendous deal – but you will need to fix it.
  2. Your Instruments: If you have decided to create your own instruments, be very careful. Chances are you have studied other instruments to get ideas, and that is perfectly acceptable. However, in the instruments themselves, you must give credit if you have taken an idea from another researcher’s instrument. You don’t want to fail to do this, because, again, chances are one or more of your committee members has probably seen these other instruments.

How to Check for Plagiarism

There are many highly sophisticated plagiarism detection software programs that will allow you to cut and paste you entire work in and have a check run against billions of other text on the web. Mot will find threads of words (usually 4 or more) that have been used in the same sequence. These may not be an issue if they are pretty common phrases. Some detection programs will even “red-flag” concepts or ideas, but that does not necessarily mean you have plagiarized them. Two people can certainly come up with the same idea. These are things that will have to be discussed with your advisor or committee members.

Writing a dissertation is tough enough. If you want some help with plagiarism checking, you can certainly get an expert from TrustedDissertations.com to evaluate your work, point out any potential problems, and help you fix them.

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