Skilful writing and plagiarism avoidance

Table of Contents

Writing as a skill

 Writing and academic writing are skills and therefore need practising. No one is born a master. Aiming at skilful writing is improving your thinking and vice versa.

Practise to become a skilful writer
Notice risks of plagiarism

Know information-seeking techniques. Select authoritative sources. Gather sources into a reference manager. Copy-paste but keep them in a separate file and attach citings. Write notes with citings.

Copy-pasted parts from other sources are mixed with writings of your own. Source information is lost.

Reserve time for thinking, choosing your personal views on the topic. Write in own words without looking the reference or copy-pasted parts in the separate file.

Procrastination, not enough time for writing. Modifiying copy-pasted parts, too long quotations.

Give credit to the sources you use as support or an argument of your view. Cite and form a list of references with help of a reference manager.

Forgetting where the ideas came from. Managing citings and a reference list manually in the last minute.

Co-operate in good way, discuss, get feedback.

Make use of the help of peers, asking ready solutions.

Writing as a process

Every writing task is a process with several phases. In a short assignment phases take less time. Due dates between the phases help with time management. You can set the due dates for yourself or they can be set by the teacher. Instead of a single due date for an assignment, having several due dates for draft and final versions may be helpful. For a large paper, more steps can be added: e.g. rough draft, polished draft, final submission.

Picture. A model of a writing process by Lannon (2006) where Turnitin and a reference manager are added as tools. (Click the picture to enlarge it)

Information seeking and managing references

Handling references - examples of plagiarism and non-plagiarism

Co-operation in writing

  • During writing it's good to ask feedback on drafts. Also discussing with peers can be fun and helpful. Learn to make good use of comments and the feedback you get. Do it from your point of view and in your own words.
  • When writing a work together with a group, follow the criteria given for the work: what is your contribution to the work and what can you expect from others?


Lannon, J. M. 2006. Technical Communication. 10th ed. New York: Pearson Longman.