Plagiarism is an often confusing and frustrating part of the academic writing process. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, plagiarism is "the act of using another person's words or ideas without giving credit to that person." This may seem like a relatively easy idea to put into practice, if it were not for the varying rules, regulations, and systems which exist to help the writer avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism. Although these systems might be daunting, there are many different resources that can help a student conquer plagiarism when writing an essay.

The key to avoiding plagiarism in research papers is to have a strong understanding of how to properly cite sources. There are many systems in place to ensure academic honesty. These systems include the American Psychological Association’s style of academic writing, referred to as APA format, the Modern Language Association’s style, referred to as MLA format, and the Chicago Manual of Style or Chicago style. There are many organizations, which have created citing systems and luckily for the academic writer, most of them have published handbooks available at local libraries and bookstores. These handbooks are a variable treasure-trove of valuable knowledge regarding academic writing and plagiarism.

The most obvious, yet most overlooked, way to avoid plagiarism is to ask someone for help. Tutors and other academic mentors can be very helpful in the quest to accurately quote material. When writing an academic paper, often a teacher will review a project before it is actually due. Not only will a teacher’s notes improve a paper, but their help will also ensure that nothing is being plagiarized.

Similarly, most academic institutions have academic resource centers. These centers may go by many different names, but their purpose is the same. They exist to help students with their academic performance. Here, a student can access tutors and peer studying groups. Tutors can help in the citing process, as well as proofread a paper. Likewise, in peer studying groups, students can help each other learn and understand how to properly cite sources. In addition, students will often proofread each other’s papers, ensuring quality as well as proper citation.

A relatively new source for academic honesty is the Internet. Not only does the Internet make researching incredibly easy, it can also help students avoid plagiarism. There are many websites which exist primarily to ensure academic honesty. Sites like or can run what is called a plagiarism report. Through the site, a student may submit a research paper or project to be checked for plagiarism. These websites will actually scan a paper or project and report back to the student regarding exactly how much of a paper has been plagiarism, even giving a rough percentage. This will tell the student precisely how academically honest their academic project is.

Another useful set of websites are those devoted to proper citation. Websites like and are excellent sources for those trying to avoid plagiarism in their essays. These websites will actually format bibliographies and work cited pages for the user. The user just enters information from their academic sources directly into the website and then the website generates bibliographies and work cited pages based on the information entered. This makes proper citation a quick and easy process. In addition to these websites, there are those which can actually review a paper and give feedback regarding the flow and structure of your essay, as well as plagiarism. Websites like have fellow scholars dedicated to reading and reviewing academic papers for free. Another example is where students get access to an actual person who will, upon request, proofread a project and check for plagiarism. Through online communication these websites allow students to improve their academic projects to make them plagiarism-free and professionally written.

The process of writing an academic paper can be intimidating, but with the help of peers and mentors, and with the use of handbooks and research websites, the process becomes a little less daunting.