How to avoid plagiarism in academic writing?

Usually when citing published studies, we cite their main findings rather than random texts in introduction or literature review. Here, I present three ways of citing findings of Munim and Schramm (2018) while avoiding plagiarism.

  1. The higher the quality of port infrastructure of a country, the better is the logistics performance of that country (Munim and Schramm, 2018).
  2. Munim and Schramm (2018) find that the logistics performance of a country mediates the relationship between its port infrastructure quality and economic growth.  
  3. To compare the impact of port infrastructure quality on economic growth mediated via logistics performance and seaborne trade between the developed and developing countries, Munim and Schramm (2018) use multi-group structural equation model (SEM). They find that the association holds for developing countries but not for developed ones.

I believe the above text does not match very much with text in Munim and Schramm (2018) but presents the same findings. For plagiarism free writing, always ask yourself two questions:

  • Are you writing the same words of other authors?
  • Are you writing the same idea of other authors but in your own words?

If the answer to the first question is YES, then please put the sentence in quotation mark and add reference with page number. For example, the “quality of port infrastructure has a positive effect on logistics performance in both developed and developed economies, but the quality of port infrastructure affects national economy only in developed economies” (Munim and Schramm, 2018, p. 13). As a rule of thumb, you should not have more than three sentences in quotations in one study.

If the answer to the second question is YES, then simply add the reference without page number. For example, the effect of port infrastructure quality on logistics performance is higher for developed countries in comparison to developing countries (Munim and Schramm, 2018). While rephrasing, you must change the sentence structure. Only replacing a few words with synonyms do not reduce the risk of plagiarism.

Now, you may ask, when can we write a sentence without reference? The simple answer is when the information/fact/idea is your own or general knowledge. For example, sea transportation accounts for majority of the international trade. This sentence is a general knowledge, so no need for reference. Note that you should always mention the page number when citing from a published report. For example, over 80% of international trade happens via maritime transport handled by ports worldwide (UNCTAD, 2018, p. 65).

Despite rephrasing, sometimes your text may match with others as we human often think the same way and might rephrase something in the same manner. Thus, it is a good idea to check similarity of your text using a good software (e.g. Turnitin) before submission to a journal. Finally, always remember that whatever is cited in-text must appear in the list of reference at the end of the study. For further detail on plagiarism, please check


Munim, Z. H., & Schramm, H. J. (2018). The impacts of port infrastructure and logistics performance on economic growth: the mediating role of seaborne trade. Journal of Shipping and Trade, 3(1), 1-19.

UNCTAD (2018). Review of maritime transport. United Nations conference on trade and development. United Nations Publication, Geneva.

Below are a few links to free plagiarism checkers. You may use them with your own liability.

This is a ResearchHUB original post, written by Dr. Ziaul Haque Munim.

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