Plagiarism, majorly scared of accidentally plagiarising! How common/how to avoid it?

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mysticalfluffy
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I'm literally referencing EVERYTHING to the point i'd like to write more but got to the hilt of my word count...

The university of edinburgh keep emphasising how important it is not to plagiarise, how often people unintentionally get caught for plagiarising, how you get marked 0. I have tried really hard not to plagiarise. However, surely no idea can be so unique? What if when through the program there are other people's essays with similar content or phrasing?

It's freaking me out... I've spent a longer time checking references than writing the essay!
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py0alb
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Until you have completed your PhD and finally know more about some tiny little field than anybody else, every single thing you write will be stolen from someone else. Every word you write is plagiarism.
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morecambebay
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If you have genuinely come up with a thought of your own it doesnt matter that somebody may have had it before. It only counts as plagiarism if you copy without giving credit.
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nearlyheadlessian
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(Original post by lizfairy)
I'm literally referencing EVERYTHING to the point i'd like to write more but got to the hilt of my word count...

The university of edinburgh keep emphasising how important it is not to plagiarise, how often people unintentionally get caught for plagiarising, how you get marked 0. I have tried really hard not to plagiarise. However, surely no idea can be so unique? What if when through the program there are other people's essays with similar content or phrasing?

It's freaking me out... I've spent a longer time checking references than writing the essay!
What they mean is that if you refer to someone else's published idea, use someone else's line of argument or quote someone or something then you need to reference it. It's no more difficult than that.
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SirMasterKey
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Well at my uni they use a plagerism software and they know that many people's ideas will be similar to each other and to that of authors and with the citations they will be some 'plagerism' picked up, however they only go on to look at those with high levels of it there. If it is low then they just accept it.
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py0alb
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(Original post by SirMasterKey)
Well at my uni they use a plagerism software and they know that many people's ideas will be similar to each other and to that of authors and with the citations they will be some 'plagerism' picked up, however they only go on to look at those with high levels of it there. If it is low then they just accept it.
That software is fantastic: at a uni I went to, they used it after assigning an essay entitled "Why is XYZ this" and then expelled over 100 students because the software highlighted the fact that they had all used identical 6 word strings in their essays, the only possible explanation being that they had all copied each other.

The fact that the obvious way of answering the question: "XYZ is this because..." is a 6 word string escaped them.

Google "Bloomfield, Lou" if you're interested.
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mysticalfluffy
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Okes... I wish my tutor would check at least my first essay so I can be sure I've referenced correctly.
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damos92
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(Original post by py0alb)
Until you have completed your PhD and finally know more about some tiny little field than anybody else, every single thing you write will be stolen from someone else. Every word you write is plagiarism.
That's not true with regards to English. Analysis maybe, but with creative writing myself, and some people from my English class have written some pretty unique stuff.
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nearlyheadlessian
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(Original post by damos92)
That's not true with regards to English. Analysis maybe, but with creative writing myself, and some people from my English class have written some pretty unique stuff.
We don't have any creative writing courses in Edinburgh.
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GodspeedGehenna
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(Original post by py0alb)
Until you have completed your PhD and finally know more about some tiny little field than anybody else, every single thing you write will be stolen from someone else. Every word you write is plagiarism.
Er, do you actually know what plagiarism is?

I haven't plagiarised anything, thank you.
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xoxAngel_Kxox
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We have a plagarism software, I just run all of my essays through it when I've finished, references as well. They will come up plagarised, as other people will have written them, but that's okay. I find that useful because if you've done anything wrong in your reference, you will be able to find somebody who has done them right, and you can correct it :') Happy times!
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jimbo139
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It sounds like you're getting way too worried about this. When you make a major point, reference a couple of academic sources which support it. And if for some reason you feel the need to use a quotation (quite rare in most subjects), put it in inverted commas and reference it.

Realistically, people only get disciplined if they cut and paste a massive chunk their essay without a reference, or pay someone else to write it for them. If you avoid doing this (and it's hardly the sort of thing you'd do by accident), I promise you'll be fine. The content of your essay is much more important than the referencing of minute details.
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Lamptastic
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Paraphrase & reference.
Quote & reference.
My opinion=no reference.

Simple really.

EDIT: Also the plagiarism software used by your Uni (Turnitin etc.) is very effective. However, you will only be done for plagiarism if you've clearly used someone's work without giving credit to them. None of us simply know something without reading someone else's work. Ask your tutor or whoever -they should alleviate any worries.
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py0alb
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(Original post by GodspeedGehenna)
Er, do you actually know what plagiarism is?

I haven't plagiarised anything, thank you.

I do... It's defined as everytime you pass off somebody elses "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" as your own. Unfortunately, unless you are a child prodigy, then every single thing you have ever written about your subject will have been originally conceived by someone else, and passed on to you through reading or attending lectures, and therefore it technically constitutes plagiarism. It's actually extremely instructive to look back over an essay with your lecture notes and textbook, and notice how many complete phrases and sentences you have unconsciously appropriated, because there is simply no better way of explaining that particular idea.

It would be physically impossible to reference every single thing we copy off previous authors, because you would have to reference virtually every sentence you write, and half the time you will be completely unaware that you have borrowed your idea at all. Frequently you will convince yourself that you thought it up yourself (you didn't).

My point is not that every single student should be expelled, but the opposite. That universities should be far more realistic in their definition of plagiarism. Particularly in the sciences, there is often clearly one particular phrase or sentence that explains the point better than any other. Why diverge from the optimum phrasing just because some ill-conceived piece of software might complain?
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Alastair94
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just press cmd + c. and then cmd + v and all ur probs go away!
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Princess Bubbles
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As long as you haven't copied and pasted from somewhere and referenced the sources you have used you will be fine.
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jcinthemoviecorner
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i use--> http://www.neilstoolbox.com/
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GodspeedGehenna
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(Original post by py0alb)
I do... It's defined as everytime you pass off somebody elses "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" as your own. Unfortunately, unless you are a child prodigy, then every single thing you have ever written about your subject will have been originally conceived by someone else, and passed on to you through reading or attending lectures, and therefore it technically constitutes plagiarism.
Erm, no. It's called referencing. I'm passing nothing off as my own, thanks.
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py0alb
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(Original post by GodspeedGehenna)
Erm, no. It's called referencing. I'm passing nothing off as my own, thanks.

I bet you a million pounds you are. What subject do you do?
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GodspeedGehenna
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(Original post by py0alb)
I bet you a million pounds you are. What subject do you do?
I'll humour you. I study Psych.
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