At the start of the university year, it is easy to get very confused. Someone demands an essay or a presentation on a topic and you just Google or Wikipedia for relevant info because you really, really want to get it right. And that’s research, isn’t it? Well, yes it’s research (with a sniff if being very academic) but what do you do with it? Rule 1 in the anti-plagiarism list: tell people where you found the info. Rule 2: don’t just repeat the info – tell people what it means in a particular context that you yourself have defined. So, ‘Person X says…. and situation Y is, so I think…..’ It’s a step change between repeating knowledge and developing it and university is there to develop knowledge.
For basic checking of your own texts there are free and low-cost services available at www.turnitin.com (the full form of which which may well be available in your university) and www.plagtracker.com Note the first counts ‘words’ and the second counts ‘characters’ when setting prices.