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How to avoid plagiarism: Strategies you can actually use!

After getting in touch with the main characteristics of plagiarism and why it is still a valid concern for teachers and coordinators, we now have a chance to discuss the most efficient tool to get over this problem in our classrooms. As we saw, the only thing that will guarantee that your citation or paraphrase is not going to be considered plagiarism is properly citing the resources.

· Citation While writing a paper, it is important to keep track of all the resources used to come up with your ideas. Every website, book, article, or even multimedia material that somehow influenced your work must be recognized. This recognition happens, mainly, through the citation, and it will appear in two forms – the in-text citation and the Works Cited page, always combined. The citation follows some established structures, in order to make the cataloging process easier and more organized. These structures are called documentation systems, and the two most used systems in academic environments can be found in manuals provided by the APA (American Psychological Association) and the MLA (Modern Language Association).

· MLA Style The Modern Language Association was created in 1883, and it provides an environment for sharing scientific knowledge between researchers and students. For this reason, there was a need to facilitate the organization of the resources used in different contexts, so that the content could be easily available and the recognition of the author remained a priority. That is one of the reasons that they created a manual to systematize the documents, the MLA Style, which is not only a guide to create citations but to format and standardize any scientific publication, especially in the educational field. The MLA Style can be accessed in a Handbook, published by the Modern Language Association, but the website (https://style.mla.org/) offers an extensive set of tools to help teachers and students with document systematization, which is one of the main keys to avoid plagiarism. Among these tools, there are templates and a guide to creating in-text citations and the works cited page.

· In-text citation The first element to cite a resource is the in-text citation. In this, we insert a brief piece of the resource information in the body of the text, to signalize the use of their words or ideas. This small intervention will be completed by the full information provided on the works cited page. In-text citations include the last name of the author followed by a page number in parentheses. If the name of the author is not available, we use the first word in the title. Examples of in-text citation, according to the MLA Style: o 1 author: “This is merely an example” (Boldo 32). o 2 authors: “Another example is necessary” (Barros and Rodrigues 45). o 3 or more: “Writing another example” (Shimocomaqui et al. 56).

· Works Cited According to the MLA Style, all entries presented in the body of the text must be fully developed in the Works Cited Page, a separate page at the end of the paper with all the information about the resources consulted. Each entry has its core elements, the most important information that has to be provided - if available - in a specific order and structure. The core elements usually are:

1. Author; 2. Title of the Source; 3. In case the source is part of a larger whole, the Title of Container; 4. Contributor; 5. Version; 6. Number; 7. Publisher; 8. Publication Date; 9. Location.

Here are some examples of Works Cited entries, with the numbers indicating the elements previously enlisted:

All these examples are in the MLA Style website, which also offers a template so you can practice building Works Cited entries. After learning with these instruments, it will be easier to internalize the importance of citing your resources and it will leave much less space for occasional plagiarism. If your students still have questions about plagiarism and how to avoid it, encourage them to bring their doubts to the teachers and coordinators, so that we can share all the information needed to build an ethical and edifying learning environment.

About the MLA” Modern Language Association. https://www.mla.org/About-Us/About-the-MLA. Accessed on June 4, 2021.

MCCOMBES, Shona. “APA vs MLA: The key differences” Published on January 9, 2020 by. Revised on April 8, 2021. https://www.scribbr.com/citing-sources/apa-vs-mla/. Accessed on June 4, 2021.

“MLA Citation Guide (MLA 8th Edition): In-Text Citation” University of Nevada, Reno. https://guides.library.unr.edu/mlacitation/in-textcite. Accessed on June 4, 2021.

“Works Cited: A quick guide” Modern Language Association. https://style.mla.org/works-cited/works-cited-a-quick-guide/. Accessed on June 4, 2021.

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