How to Summarize Without Plagiarizing
Most students fear the amount of massive hard work that is required when issued with a research paper. One has to spend a lot of time in the library analyzing journals, books and other pieces of literature that contain relevant information. In most cases, these materials used for research have many pages thus makes the work tiring. The internet has made things easy since the information can be accessed from any location. Whichever source of information you use, there is the worry of being caught with the offense of plagiarism if you just copy and paste the content or you do not know how to summarize the content without plagiarizing. In the academic field, plagiarism is a capital offense that can even lead to disqualification from your course. However, there are several tips that help you avoid it.
Read and Grasp the Content
Do not just start writing without grasping the ideas articulated by the article first. You may end up mentioning things that are out of context or bringing in new ideas that are not in the original text. Take time and read the whole text on a word-by-word basis. Read the information in stages. The first step is to read the whole text and get the general ideas contained. When you read it for the second time, get the independent ideas separating them one after the other. You can also try to understand the hard phrases or words at this stage. As you now read the text the last time, take notes of the main ideas that are in the text.
Write Your Content
As you write your paper, draft everything in your own words. Avoid the temptation to use the same phrases and words used in the main text because you are lazy and do not want to think outside the box. If you want to maintain the original idea, use quotation marks where you use three or more words that follow each other from the text and where you feel that changing such words may lead to loss of the main message. Simply put, just pick ideas and elaborate them in your own way. Your content must, however, be unique. Just using synonyms may not be enough when you are trying to avoid plagiarism. As you write the paper, hide the original text so that you do not directly copy information from it. Where there is an idea that you have forgotten, go back and read the text. You can then hide it again as you continue writing yours. Where you use the exact words as those in the original text, and you cannot avoid it, you should use quotation marks. However, do not have too many cases of verbatim as the content may sound copy-pasted.
Adjust the Structure of the Text
You do not need to write the ideas the exact way they follow each other in the original text. Use your judgment to determine the strongest argument even if it comes last. At the same time, do not follow everything that is written sentence by sentence as you write. Consolidate some small sentences into one complete one. However, ensure your sentences are neither too long nor too short.
Use Different Sources of Information
If you are writing a research paper, you increase your chances of being caught in the trap of plagiarism if you only use one source to do your research or to obtain the required information. The problem here is that you are likely to use the same words or the writing style as the one used in the source that source. However, when you use different sources, you mix the type of language that you use. With such a paper, you can easily escape the plagiarism trap. At the same time, your paper becomes more informative and authoritative.
Cite the Sources That You Have Used
It is always proper and safe to cite the sources of information that you have used. You are basically acknowledging that some of the information is not your own. It also gives relevance to your content in the sense that there are scholars who hold the same of view as you. Use the formatting style that has been specified to you. There are several formatting styles such as MLA, APA, and Harvard among others. Learn about these formatting styles if you are not sure how they are applied in writing.
Pass Your Work through a Plagiarism Checker
Just to be sure that you have no borrowed parts remaining in your paper, you can use a plagiarism tool and adjust any plagiarized section of your paper.