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Harvard Guide to Using Sources 

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  • What Constitutes Plagiarism?

In academic writing, it is considered plagiarism to draw any idea or any language from someone else without adequately crediting that source in your paper. It doesn't matter whether the source is a published author, another student, a website without clear authorship, a website that sells academic papers, or any other person: Taking credit for anyone else's work is stealing, and it is unacceptable in all academic situations, whether you do it intentionally or by accident.

The ease with which you can find information of all kinds online means that you need to be extra vigilant about keeping track of where you are getting information and ideas and about giving proper credit to the authors of the sources you use. If you cut and paste from an electronic document into your notes and forget to clearly label the document in your notes, or if you draw information from a series of websites without taking careful notes, you may end up taking credit for ideas that aren't yours, whether you mean to or not.

It's important to remember that every website is a document with an author, and therefore every website must be cited properly in your paper. For example, while it may seem obvious to you that an idea drawn from Professor Steven Pinker's book The Language Instinct should only appear in your paper if you include a clear citation, it might be less clear that information you glean about language acquisition from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website warrants a similar citation. Even though the authorship of this encyclopedia entry is less obvious than it might be if it were a print article (you need to scroll down the page to see the author's name, and if you don't do so you might mistakenly think an author isn't listed), you are still responsible for citing this material correctly. Similarly, if you consult a website that has no clear authorship, you are still responsible for citing the website as a source for your paper. The kind of source you use, or the absence of an author linked to that source, does not change the fact that you always need to cite your sources (see Evaluating Web Sources ).

Verbatim Plagiarism

If you copy language word for word from another source and use that language in your paper, you are plagiarizing verbatim . Even if you write down your own ideas in your own words and place them around text that you've drawn directly from a source, you must give credit to the author of the source material, either by placing the source material in quotation marks and providing a clear citation, or by paraphrasing the source material and providing a clear citation.

The passage below comes from Ellora Derenoncourt’s article, “Can You Move to Opportunity? Evidence from the Great Migration.”

Here is the article citation in APA style:

Derenoncourt, E. (2022). Can you move to opportunity? Evidence from the Great Migration. The American Economic Review , 112(2), 369–408. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.20200002

Source material

Why did urban Black populations in the North increase so dramatically between 1940 and 1970? After a period of reduced mobility during the Great Depression, Black out-migration from the South resumed at an accelerated pace after 1940. Wartime jobs in the defense industry and in naval shipyards led to substantial Black migration to California and other Pacific states for the first time since the Migration began. Migration continued apace to midwestern cities in the 1950s and1960s, as the booming automobile industry attracted millions more Black southerners to the North, particularly to cities like Detroit or Cleveland. Of the six million Black migrants who left the South during the Great Migration, four million of them migrated between 1940 and 1970 alone.

Plagiarized version

While this student has written her own sentence introducing the topic, she has copied the italicized sentences directly from the source material. She has left out two sentences from Derenoncourt’s paragraph, but has reproduced the rest verbatim:

But things changed mid-century. After a period of reduced mobility during the Great Depression, Black out-migration from the South resumed at an accelerated pace after 1940. Wartime jobs in the defense industry and in naval shipyards led to substantial Black migration to California and other Pacific states for the first time since the Migration began. Migration continued apace to midwestern cities in the 1950s and1960s, as the booming automobile industry attracted millions more Black southerners to the North, particularly to cities like Detroit or Cleveland.

Acceptable version #1: Paraphrase with citation

In this version the student has paraphrased Derenoncourt’s passage, making it clear that these ideas come from a source by introducing the section with a clear signal phrase ("as Derenoncourt explains…") and citing the publication date, as APA style requires.

But things changed mid-century. In fact, as Derenoncourt (2022) explains, the wartime increase in jobs in both defense and naval shipyards marked the first time during the Great Migration that Black southerners went to California and other west coast states. After the war, the increase in jobs in the car industry led to Black southerners choosing cities in the midwest, including Detroit and Cleveland.

Acceptable version #2 : Direct quotation with citation or direct quotation and paraphrase with citation

If you quote directly from an author and cite the quoted material, you are giving credit to the author. But you should keep in mind that quoting long passages of text is only the best option if the particular language used by the author is important to your paper. Social scientists and STEM scholars rarely quote in their writing, paraphrasing their sources instead. If you are writing in the humanities, you should make sure that you only quote directly when you think it is important for your readers to see the original language.

In the example below, the student quotes part of the passage and paraphrases the rest.

But things changed mid-century. In fact, as Derenoncourt (2022) explains, “after a period of reduced mobility during the Great Depression, Black out-migration from the South resumed at an accelerated pace after 1940” (p. 379). Derenoncourt notes that after the war, the increase in jobs in the car industry led to Black southerners choosing cities in the midwest, including Detroit and Cleveland.

Mosaic Plagiarism

If you copy bits and pieces from a source (or several sources), changing a few words here and there without either adequately paraphrasing or quoting directly, the result is mosaic plagiarism . Even if you don't intend to copy the source, you may end up with this type of plagiarism as a result of careless note-taking and confusion over where your source's ideas end and your own ideas begin. You may think that you've paraphrased sufficiently or quoted relevant passages, but if you haven't taken careful notes along the way, or if you've cut and pasted from your sources, you can lose track of the boundaries between your own ideas and those of your sources. It's not enough to have good intentions and to cite some of the material you use. You are responsible for making clear distinctions between your ideas and the ideas of the scholars who have informed your work. If you keep track of the ideas that come from your sources and have a clear understanding of how your own ideas differ from those ideas, and you follow the correct citation style, you will avoid mosaic plagiarism.

Indeed, of the more than 3500 hours of instruction during medical school, an average of less than 60 hours are devoted to all of bioethics, health law and health economics combined . Most of the instruction is during the preclinical courses, leaving very little instructional time when students are experiencing bioethical or legal challenges during their hands-on, clinical training. More than 60 percent of the instructors in bioethics, health law, and health economics have not published since 1990 on the topic they are teaching.

--Persad, G.C., Elder, L., Sedig,L., Flores, L., & Emanuel, E. (2008). The current state of medical school education in bioethics, health law, and health economics. Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 36 , 89-94.

Students can absorb the educational messages in medical dramas when they view them for entertainment. In fact, even though they were not created specifically for education, these programs can be seen as an entertainment-education tool [43, 44]. In entertainment-education shows, viewers are exposed to educational content in entertainment contexts, using visual language that is easy to understand and triggers emotional engagement [45]. The enhanced emotional engagement and cognitive development [5] and moral imagination make students more sensitive to training [22].

--Cambra-Badii, I., Moyano, E., Ortega, I., Josep-E Baños, & Sentí, M. (2021). TV medical dramas: Health sciences students’ viewing habits and potential for teaching issues related to bioethics and professionalism. BMC Medical Education, 21 , 1-11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-021-02947-7

Paragraph #1.

All of the ideas in this paragraph after the first sentence are drawn directly from Persad. But because the student has placed the citation mid-paragraph, the final two sentences wrongly appear to be the student’s own idea:

In order to advocate for the use of medical television shows in the medical education system, it is also important to look at the current bioethical curriculum. In the more than 3500 hours of training that students undergo in medical school, only about 60 hours are focused on bioethics, health law, and health economics (Persad et al, 2008). It is also problematic that students receive this training before they actually have spent time treating patients in the clinical setting. Most of these hours are taught by instructors without current publications in the field.

Paragraph #2.

All of the italicized ideas in this paragraph are either paraphrased or taken verbatim from Cambra-Badii, et al., but the student does not cite the source at all. As a result, readers will assume that the student has come up with these ideas himself:

Students can absorb the educational messages in medical dramas when they view them for entertainment. It doesn’t matter if the shows were designed for medical students; they can still be a tool for education. In these hybrid entertainment-education shows, viewers are exposed to educational content that triggers an emotional reaction. By allowing for this emotional, cognitive, and moral engagement, the shows make students more sensitive to training . There may be further applications to this type of education: the role of entertainment as a way of encouraging students to consider ethical situations could be extended to other professions, including law or even education.

The student has come up with the final idea in the paragraph (that this type of ethical training could apply to other professions), but because nothing in the paragraph is cited, it reads as if it is part of a whole paragraph of his own ideas, rather than the point that he is building to after using the ideas from the article without crediting the authors.

Acceptable version

In the first paragraph, the student uses signal phrases in nearly every sentence to reference the authors (“According to Persad et al.,” “As the researchers argue,” “They also note”), which makes it clear throughout the paragraph that all of the paragraph’s information has been drawn from Persad et al. The student also uses a clear APA in-text citation to point the reader to the original article. In the second paragraph, the student paraphrases and cites the source’s ideas and creates a clear boundary behind those ideas and his own, which appear in the final paragraph.

In order to advocate for the use of medical television shows in the medical education system, it is also important to look at the current bioethical curriculum. According to Persad et al. (2008), only about one percent of teaching time throughout the four years of medical school is spent on ethics. As the researchers argue, this presents a problem because the students are being taught about ethical issues before they have a chance to experience those issues themselves. They also note that more than sixty percent of instructors teaching bioethics to medical students have no recent publications in the subject.

The research suggests that medical dramas may be a promising source for discussions of medical ethics. Cambra-Badii et al. (2021) explain that even when watched for entertainment, medical shows can help viewers engage emotionally with the characters and may prime them to be more receptive to training in medical ethics. There may be further applications to this type of education: the role of entertainment as a way of encouraging students to consider ethical situations could be extended to other professions, including law or even education.

Inadequate Paraphrase

When you paraphrase, your task is to distill the source's ideas in your own words. It's not enough to change a few words here and there and leave the rest; instead, you must completely restate the ideas in the passage in your own words. If your own language is too close to the original, then you are plagiarizing, even if you do provide a citation.

In order to make sure that you are using your own words, it's a good idea to put away the source material while you write your paraphrase of it. This way, you will force yourself to distill the point you think the author is making and articulate it in a new way. Once you have done this, you should look back at the original and make sure that you have represented the source’s ideas accurately and that you have not used the same words or sentence structure. If you do want to use some of the author's words for emphasis or clarity, you must put those words in quotation marks and provide a citation.

The passage below comes from Michael Sandel’s article, “The Case Against Perfection.” Here’s the article citation in MLA style:

Sandel, Michael. “The Case Against Perfection.” The Atlantic , April 2004, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/04/the-case-against-pe... .

Though there is much to be said for this argument, I do not think the main problem with enhancement and genetic engineering is that they undermine effort and erode human agency. The deeper danger is that they represent a kind of hyperagency—a Promethean aspiration to remake nature, including human nature, to serve our purposes and satisfy our desires. The problem is not the drift to mechanism but the drive to mastery. And what the drive to mastery misses and may even destroy is an appreciation of the gifted character of human powers and achievements.

The version below is an inadequate paraphrase because the student has only cut or replaced a few words: “I do not think the main problem” became “the main problem is not”; “deeper danger” became “bigger problem”; “aspiration” became “desire”; “the gifted character of human powers and achievements” became “the gifts that make our achievements possible.”

The main problem with enhancement and genetic engineering is not that they undermine effort and erode human agency. The bigger problem is that they represent a kind of hyperagency—a Promethean desire to remake nature, including human nature, to serve our purposes and satisfy our desires. The problem is not the drift to mechanism but the drive to mastery. And what the drive to mastery misses and may even destroy is an appreciation of the gifts that make our achievements possible (Sandel).

Acceptable version #1: Adequate paraphrase with citation

In this version, the student communicates Sandel’s ideas but does not borrow language from Sandel. Because the student uses Sandel’s name in the first sentence and has consulted an online version of the article without page numbers, there is no need for a parenthetical citation.

Michael Sandel disagrees with the argument that genetic engineering is a problem because it replaces the need for humans to work hard and make their own choices. Instead, he argues that we should be more concerned that the decision to use genetic enhancement is motivated by a desire to take control of nature and bend it to our will instead of appreciating its gifts.

Acceptable version #2: Direct quotation with citation

In this version, the student uses Sandel’s words in quotation marks and provides a clear MLA in-text citation. In cases where you are going to talk about the exact language that an author uses, it is acceptable to quote longer passages of text. If you are not going to discuss the exact language, you should paraphrase rather than quoting extensively.

The author argues that “the main problem with enhancement and genetic engineering is not that they undermine effort and erode human agency,” but, rather that “they represent a kind of hyperagency—a Promethean desire to remake nature, including human nature, to serve our purposes and satisfy our desires. The problem is not the drift to mechanism but the drive to mastery. And what the drive to mastery misses and may even destroy is an appreciation of the gifts that make our achievements possible” (Sandel).

Uncited Paraphrase

When you use your own language to describe someone else's idea, that idea still belongs to the author of the original material. Therefore, it's not enough to paraphrase the source material responsibly; you also need to cite the source, even if you have changed the wording significantly. As with quoting, when you paraphrase you are offering your reader a glimpse of someone else's work on your chosen topic, and you should also provide enough information for your reader to trace that work back to its original form. The rule of thumb here is simple: Whenever you use ideas that you did not think up yourself, you need to give credit to the source in which you found them, whether you quote directly from that material or provide a responsible paraphrase.

The passage below comes from C. Thi Nguyen’s article, “Echo Chambers and Epistemic Bubbles.”

Here’s the citation for the article, in APA style:

Nguyen, C. (2020). Echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Episteme, 17 (2), 141-161. doi:10.1017/epi.2018.32

Epistemic bubbles can easily form accidentally. But the most plausible explanation for the particular features of echo chambers is something more malicious. Echo chambers are excellent tools to maintain, reinforce, and expand power through epistemic control. Thus, it is likely (though not necessary) that echo chambers are set up intentionally, or at least maintained, for this functionality (Nguyen, 2020).

The student who wrote the paraphrase below has drawn these ideas directly from Nguyen’s article but has not credited the author. Although she paraphrased adequately, she is still responsible for citing Nguyen as the source of this information.

Echo chambers and epistemic bubbles have different origins. While epistemic bubbles can be created organically, it’s more likely that echo chambers will be formed by those who wish to keep or even grow their control over the information that people hear and understand.

In this version, the student eliminates any possible ambiguity about the source of the ideas in the paragraph. By using a signal phrase to name the author whenever the source of the ideas could be unclear, the student clearly attributes these ideas to Nguyen.

According to Nguyen (2020), echo chambers and epistemic bubbles have different origins. Nguyen argues that while epistemic bubbles can be created organically, it’s more likely that echo chambers will be formed by those who wish to keep or even grow their control over the information that people hear and understand.

Uncited Quotation

When you put source material in quotation marks in your essay, you are telling your reader that you have drawn that material from somewhere else. But it's not enough to indicate that the material in quotation marks is not the product of your own thinking or experimentation: You must also credit the author of that material and provide a trail for your reader to follow back to the original document. This way, your reader will know who did the original work and will also be able to go back and consult that work if they are interested in learning more about the topic. Citations should always go directly after quotations.

The passage below comes from Deirdre Mask’s nonfiction book, The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power.

Here is the MLA citation for the book:

Mask, Deirdre. The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2021.

In New York, even addresses are for sale. The city allows a developer, for the bargain price of $11,000 (as of 2019), to apply to change the street address to something more attractive.

It’s not enough for the student to indicate that these words come from a source; the source must be cited:

After all, “in New York, even addresses are for sale. The city allows a developer, for the bargain price of $11,000 (as of 2019), to apply to change the street address to something more attractive.”

Here, the student has cited the source of the quotation using an MLA in-text citation:

After all, “in New York, even addresses are for sale. The city allows a developer, for the bargain price of $11,000 (as of 2019), to apply to change the street address to something more attractive” (Mask 229).

Using Material from Another Student's Work

In some courses you will be allowed or encouraged to form study groups, to work together in class generating ideas, or to collaborate on your thinking in other ways. Even in those cases, it's imperative that you understand whether all of your writing must be done independently, or whether group authorship is permitted. Most often, even in courses that allow some collaborative discussion, the writing or calculations that you do must be your own. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't collect feedback on your writing from a classmate or a writing tutor; rather, it means that the argument you make (and the ideas you rely on to make it) should either be your own or you should give credit to the source of those ideas.

So what does this mean for the ideas that emerge from class discussion or peer review exercises? Unlike the ideas that your professor offers in lecture (you should always cite these), ideas that come up in the course of class discussion or peer review are collaborative, and often not just the product of one individual's thinking. If, however, you see a clear moment in discussion when a particular student comes up with an idea, you should cite that student. In any case, when your work is informed by class discussions, it's courteous and collegial to include a discursive footnote in your paper that lets your readers know about that discussion. So, for example, if you were writing a paper about the narrator in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and you came up with your idea during a discussion in class, you might place a footnote in your paper that states the following: "I am indebted to the members of my Expos 20 section for sparking my thoughts about the role of the narrator as Greek Chorus in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried ."

It is important to note that collaboration policies can vary by course, even within the same department, and you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with each course's expectation about collaboration. Collaboration policies are often stated in the syllabus, but if you are not sure whether it is appropriate to collaborate on work for any course, you should always consult your instructor.

  • The Exception: Common Knowledge
  • Other Scenarios to Avoid
  • Why Does it Matter if You Plagiarize?
  • How to Avoid Plagiarism
  • Harvard University Plagiarism Policy

PDFs for This Section

  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Online Library and Citation Tools

Home / Guides / Plagiarism Guide / Types of plagiarism

Types of plagiarism

Do you remember the definition of plagiarism? It means taking credit for someone else’s work.

There are actually several different types of plagiarism – some types are severe, some more moderate – but all still plagiarism, and all subject to disciplinary action. This means when your teacher finds out you plagiarized, you might get a failing grade, suspension, expulsion, or some other punishment.

Before you think you’re so clever, your teacher would never find out you plagiarized, you need to know about plagiarism checkers.

A plagiarism checker is an online tool that compares your writing to millions of other papers and web pages, and issues a report if something looks like it could be plagiarism. While many teachers run their students’ papers through a plagiarism checker, you can also run your paper through before you submit it, to see if anything gets flagged.

If you’re interested in trying one yourself, check out the EasyBib plagiarism checker .

Now, let’s look at the different types of plagiarism, listed in order of most severe to more moderate.

Guide Overview

Global plagiarism, verbatim plagiarism, paraphrased plagiarism, patchwork plagiarism, self-plagiarism, accidental plagiarism, key takeaways, what is global plagiarism.

This type of plagiarism means you took someone else’s complete work and submitted it as your own.

  • Maybe you found an essay online and just copy-pasted the whole thing.
  • Maybe you paid someone to write your paper for you (it doesn’t matter if you paid someone you know or if you bought a paper online).
  • Maybe you used your cousin’s old paper from 2 years ago, since he’s not going to need it anymore.

However you obtained this complete paper, it is not yours (not even if you paid good money for it), and if you submit is as your work, you are committing the most severe type of plagiarism.

Why is it the most severe type?

Because it involved the least amount of work from you, and because it is the most intentionally plagiarized. No one uses someone else’s entire paper “by mistake”.

Using someone else’s entire paper contributes absolutely nothing. You don’t get points for writing your name.

When people hear that a paper was plagiarized, this is often what they imagine. But this type of plagiarism is quite easy to detect and prove.

Teachers get to know their students’ writing, so if you submit a paper someone else wrote, it won’t “sound” like you at all (since it isn’t). A good teacher will detect that immediately.

Also, plagiarism checkers have access to an enormous amount of written work which it sifts through, looking for similarities. If you got your paper online, you will get caught.

Example of global plagiarism

In this example, notice that both versions are exactly the same, except for the name on the plagiarized version.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/projection

What is verbatim plagiarism?

This type of plagiarism means copy-pasting parts of other papers without using quotation marks to show they are exactly the same words, and without citing sources.

Verbatim plagiarism is similar to global plagiarism, except that instead of copying an entire paper, you only copy parts: maybe a section, or a paragraph, or a few sentences.

Did you know that it is completely legal and appropriate to copy-paste someone else’s writing? Yes, as long as you use quotation marks and cite the source.

Professional academics, researchers, and writers often use direct quotes from other papers because they want to respond to an idea, or because another writer made a point so well, they want to keep it as it is, or maybe they completely disagree with that point and want to show exactly what they disagree with.

However, they use quotes and citations.

Verbatim plagiarism is a serious type of plagiarism because again, you’re taking credit for someone else’s work. Maybe not the whole thing, but pieces of it. How much original work are you doing if you’re just swiping someone else’s writing? How much are you contributing your own ideas if you’re repeating someone else’s?

Example of verbatim plagiarism

In this example, the highlighted section is copy-pasted from the source but without quotation marks or citation. The part in the middle is the writer’s interpretation of what that first section means.

What is paraphrased plagiarism? This type of plagiarism means taking someone else’s sentences, changing a few words, moving the order around, and presenting it as your own ideas. Although the words or the sentence order are your own, the ideas are not.

Paraphrased plagiarism is the most common type committed. For many students, it might feel like you’re doing a lot of work, figuring out what a writer is saying and then finding a way to say it in your own words.  Actually, being able to paraphrase well is a challenging skill.

Like with direct quotes, professionals use paraphrases in their research. This is a very common practice, as long as the paraphrases are given proper attribution.

This type of plagiarism is serious. Remember that in academic writing, the purpose is to contribute to learning and knowledge. In order to do that, you need to contribute original work: you own ideas, opinions, or interpretations, based on what others have written.

If we think of constructing knowledge as building a house, then your job is to go in there with some tools, which is the information you found from other sources, and maybe add a door. You are not responsible for building the entire house. But if you go in there and all you do is point to what has already been built, then you’re not adding anything, are you?

Example of paraphrased plagiarism

In this example, notice that the paraphrased version says basically the same thing, but using different words and word order.

What is patchwork plagiarism?

This type of plagiarism, as its name implies, take pieces from different places and stitches them all together to make a whole.

Patchwork plagiarism might copy-paste one section and paraphrase another to come up with a “new” text. It might take some pieces from one author and other pieces from another author.

But do you see what’s missing?

Where is your work? Where are your ideas? Where is your contribution? Remember that just taking parts from different authors and cobbling them together isn’t considered original work. As in the example above, patchwork plagiarism is walking into a house that’s being built and pointing at everything that someone else built.

Because it includes some direct plagiarism and some paraphrased, this is also a serious type of plagiarism.

While professionals do include direct quotes and paraphrases from other sources, they use them to bolster their own arguments, their own ideas. Other people’s work is a support ; it is not the main structure.

Example of patchwork plagiarism

In this example, the highlighted sections are copy-pasted, and the red font is a paraphrase.

What is self-plagiarism?

It’s hard for some students to understand what this type of plagiarism is. You can actually plagiarize yourself.

If you reuse something you’ve previously written and submitted for another assignment, that is self-plagiarism.

If a professional includes something they have previously written and published, that is an even more serious offense, because it’s on a professional level.

But even as a student, this is considered academic dishonesty, since you are trying to get credit twice for the same work. This type of plagiarism is considered moderate, since it does take into account that you are the author. You came up with the ideas, you did the work. The dishonesty is from trying to get two grades for one assignment.

What if you have topics in two classes that are very similar and the same research would work for both assignments? Then talk to your teachers. Explain the situation, and see if you can use some of the same research, maybe even some of your same writing. Some teachers might allow it because this would allow you to do more thorough research and better writing, since you’re going to write about the same thing for two classes.

What is accidental plagiarism?

Mistakes happen. This type of plagiarism is when you cite a source incorrectly, or when you forget to cite altogether, or when a quote is wrong. All of these point to careless record keeping during the research process. These mistakes are considered unintentional. That’s why accidental plagiarism is considered a moderate type.

But they are still plagiarism and therefore still subject to disciplinary action.

Writing a paper and using sources is challenging. You need to keep track of where information came from, have the proper citations, make sure quotes are accurate and paraphrases reflect the original meaning of the writer.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete the assignment and double-check it before you submit it.

Example of accidental plagiarism

In this example, the words in blue indicate a mistake: first an incorrect citation, since the source is Psychology Today, and not Freud. Second, a mistake in the direct quotation, where one wrong letter makes the quote meaningless.

  • There are a variety of ways to commit plagiarism, along different points on a scale of seriousness.
  • Regardless of the type, whether the plagiarism was done on purpose or by accident, it is still plagiarism and could still lead to negative consequences.

Published October 28, 2020.

By Halina Stolar. Halina has a master’s degree in teaching and taught English as a Second Language and writing for almost 15 years overseas. She now works as a freelance writer, and geeks out over grammar for fun.

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  • Welcome to the Plagiarism Guide
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  • What is Plagiarism?
  • Direct or Clone Plagiarism
  • Self Plagiarism
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  • Accidental Plagiarism
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Types of Plagiarism 

Plagiarism takes various forms, all leading to potential disciplinary actions by professors and the university, depending on the severity. While many believe plagiarism involves only word-for-word copying, merely changing a few words with synonyms won't suffice. Proper attribution of ideas is equally important.

In academia, scholars are expected to credit not only the exact words they cite but also the lineage of thoughts and prior research. This means you can plagiarize when directly quoting without proper citation, using one's words to present others' ideas, and even duplicating one's prior work.

In this section, we will explore the most common types of plagiarism including:

  • " Direct Plagiarism  is the word-for-word transcription of a section of someone else’s work, without attribution and without quotation marks." This is also referred to as clone plagiarism.
  • " Self-Plagiarism  occurs when a student submits their previous work, or mixes parts of previous works, without permission from all professors involved. For example, it would be unacceptable to incorporate part of a term paper you wrote in high school into a paper assigned in a college course. Self-plagiarism also applies to submitting the same piece of work for assignments in different classes without previous permission from both professors." This is also referred to as recycle plagiarism. 
  • " Mosaic Plagiarism occurs when a student borrows phrases from a source without using quotation marks or finds synonyms for the author's language while keeping to the same general structure and meaning of the original." This type of plagiarism is frequently called patchwriting and it most frequently occurs when students fail to paraphrase correctly. This is a combination of CTRL-C and Find-Replace.
  • " Accidental Plagiarism occurs when a person neglects to cite their sources, or misquotes their sources, or unintentionally paraphrases a source by using similar words, groups of words, and/or sentence structure without attribution." This is a combination of Hybrid, Mashup, Aggregator, and Re-Tweet plagiarism. 

If you select "no," please send me an email so I can improve this guide.

  • << Previous: What is Plagiarism?
  • Next: Direct or Clone Plagiarism >>

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  • Writing Tips

Essay Tips: 7 Types of Plagiarism

Essay Tips: 7 Types of Plagiarism

  • 5-minute read
  • 18th November 2022

Essay writing can be stressful. You need to research your topic, write the essay, and compile a reference list that matches the required referencing style . And it all becomes more complicated with a thesis or dissertation .

Additionally, you must avoid the cardinal sin of essay writing: plagiarism! As a student, you’re likely familiar with plagiarism, but you might not understand the full extent of it or its consequences. Did you know that it comes in various forms ? In this post, we’ll delve into the ways that you can (often unintentionally) plagiarize in your writing and how to avoid it.

What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of borrowing ideas from another author and passing them off as your own. In the academic world, it means you take ideas from a source and add them to your paper without a citation.

Plagiarism is a big no-no in the world of academia! Using another author’s ideas to support your claims is fine (and expected), but not if you don’t give said author credit.

Why Does Plagiarism Matter?

Presenting another author’s work as your own is lying. Not only that, but you also don’t learn anything by plagiarizing. The whole point of earning a degree is to learn something, right?

Moreover, plagiarism is disrespectful to the original writer. You likely wouldn’t like it if someone plagiarized a book you worked so hard to write.

Types of Plagiarism

Complete plagiarism (intentional)

This occurs when you submit another author’s work in your name. For example, paying someone to write your essay and then submitting it as your own falls under this category. Another would be using work from a friend or relative, such as submitting an essay for a history class that your older brother wrote and submitted when he took the same class three years ago.

Direct plagiarism (intentional)

This happens when the writer includes specific sections or paragraphs without crediting or acknowledging the author. It’s similar to complete plagiarism, with the difference being that it doesn’t plagiarize the entire paper. An example of this would be to directly insert a line or two from your source into your essay without a citation.

Paraphrasing plagiarism (unintentional)

The writer presents another author’s idea and changes a few words or phrases. While the writer has added some of their own words, they have not given credit where credit is due. Paraphrasing is acceptable, but not without properly acknowledging the author.

Self-plagiarism (unintentional)

Wait, it’s possible to plagiarize yourself? After all, you’re free to use your own thoughts in an essay…right? Well, yes and no.

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Let’s say you wrote an essay about the dangers of cyberbullying last year, and now you’re writing an essay about cyberbullying awareness in schools. Reusing content from your previous essay would be plagiarizing yourself. However, using a past essay as a source is acceptable if you cite it and properly acknowledge the author (which, in this case, is you).

Patchwork plagiarism (intentional)

This occurs when the writer blends their work with that of another author. Taking a clause from an original source and embedding it into your own sentence exemplifies this.

Source-based plagiarism (intentional)

A writer cites their sources correctly but presents them misleadingly. For example, a writer might reference a secondary source in their essay, but they only credit the primary source from which that secondary source is derived. Another example would be falsifying sources.

Accidental plagiarism (unintentional)

Small things can cause this, and often, the writer doesn’t realize they’re plagiarizing another writer’s work. Common examples include:

  • Forgetting to cite sources
  • Incorrectly citing sources
  • Failing to add quotation marks around cited material

Plagiarism Consequences

Think of plagiarism as an academic criminal record. Consequences will depend on your university’s plagiarism policies and the course that you’re writing the essay for. Consequences include:

  • Automatically failing the assignment
  • Failing the course
  • Academic probation or suspension
  • A permanent failing grade that denotes plagiarism on your record (bad news if you wish to pursue graduate studies)
  • Being expelled from the institution

It’s important to understand that plagiarism won’t go unnoticed. Professors can differentiate between your work and someone else’s. Many universities subscribe to plagiarism detection software , and some professors even require you to upload your assignments to special plagiarism-checking software upon submission.

Avoiding Plagiarism in Your Writing

You can avoid intentional and unintentional plagiarism by doing the following:

  • Paraphrasing and directly quoting correctly
  • Keeping track of the sources used for your essay
  • Citing as you write your essay
  • Not passing other authors’ work as your own
  • Reviewing the correct citation format for the required style guide
  • Citing common knowledge in your field (for those outside of it)

To summarize, plagiarism is an academic no-no – it’s a form of lying, and it’s disrespectful. It can be intentional or unintentional, and in either case, it results in serious consequences. If you plagiarize, you will be caught, so be sure to cite your sources and paraphrase correctly. And yes, you can plagiarize yourself.

Proofreading and Editing

Of course, proofreading your essay can make all the difference in avoiding plagiarism. Are you currently working on an essay? Does the thought of proofreading it sound daunting? Don’t have the time?

Fear not! Our expert proofreading team can check for the correct use of citations and ensure perfect spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Consider submitting a 500-word document for free.

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Information about what plagiarism is, and how you can avoid it.

The University defines plagiarism as follows:

“Presenting work or ideas from another source as your own, with or without consent of the original author, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition, as is the use of material generated wholly or in part through use of artificial intelligence (save when use of AI for assessment has received prior authorisation e.g. as a reasonable adjustment for a student’s disability). Plagiarism can also include re-using your own work without citation. Under the regulations for examinations, intentional or reckless plagiarism is a disciplinary offence.”

The necessity to acknowledge others’ work or ideas applies not only to text, but also to other media, such as computer code, illustrations, graphs etc. It applies equally to published text and data drawn from books and journals, and to unpublished text and data, whether from lectures, theses or other students’ essays. You must also attribute text, data, or other resources downloaded from websites.

Please note that artificial intelligence (AI) can only be used within assessments where specific prior authorisation has been given, or when technology that uses AI has been agreed as reasonable adjustment for a student’s disability (such as voice recognition software for transcriptions, or spelling and grammar checkers).

The best way of avoiding plagiarism is to learn and employ the principles of good academic practice from the beginning of your university career. Avoiding plagiarism is not simply a matter of making sure your references are all correct, or changing enough words so the examiner will not notice your paraphrase; it is about deploying your academic skills to make your work as good as it can be.

Students will benefit from taking an  online course  which has been developed to provide a useful overview of the issues surrounding plagiarism and practical ways to avoid it.

Forms of plagiarism

Verbatim (word for word) quotation without clear acknowledgement Quotations must always be identified as such by the use of either quotation marks or indentation, and with full referencing of the sources cited. It must always be apparent to the reader which parts are your own independent work and where you have drawn on ideas and language from another source.

Cutting and pasting from the Internet without clear acknowledgement Information derived from the Internet must be adequately referenced and included in the bibliography. It is important to evaluate carefully all material found on the Internet, as it is less likely to have been through the same process of scholarly peer review as published sources.

Paraphrasing Paraphrasing the work of others by altering a few words and changing their order, or by closely following the structure of their argument, is plagiarism if you do not give due acknowledgement to the author whose work you are using.

A passing reference to the original author in your own text may not be enough; you must ensure that you do not create the misleading impression that the paraphrased wording or the sequence of ideas are entirely your own. It is better to write a brief summary of the author’s overall argument in your own words, indicating that you are doing so, than to paraphrase particular sections of his or her writing. This will ensure you have a genuine grasp of the argument and will avoid the difficulty of paraphrasing without plagiarising. You must also properly attribute all material you derive from lectures.

Collusion This can involve unauthorised collaboration between students, failure to attribute assistance received, or failure to follow precisely regulations on group work projects. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are entirely clear about the extent of collaboration permitted, and which parts of the work must be your own.

Inaccurate citation It is important to cite correctly, according to the conventions of your discipline. As well as listing your sources (i.e. in a bibliography), you must indicate, using a footnote or an in-text reference, where a quoted passage comes from. Additionally, you should not include anything in your references or bibliography that you have not actually consulted. If you cannot gain access to a primary source you must make it clear in your citation that your knowledge of the work has been derived from a secondary text (for example, Bradshaw, D. Title of Book, discussed in Wilson, E., Title of Book (London, 2004), p. 189).

Failure to acknowledge assistance You must clearly acknowledge all assistance which has contributed to the production of your work, such as advice from fellow students, laboratory technicians, and other external sources. This need not apply to the assistance provided by your tutor or supervisor, or to ordinary proofreading, but it is necessary to acknowledge other guidance which leads to substantive changes of content or approach.

Use of material written by professional agencies or other persons You should neither make use of professional agencies in the production of your work nor submit material which has been written for you even with the consent of the person who has written it. It is vital to your intellectual training and development that you should undertake the research process unaided. Under Statute XI on University Discipline, all members of the University are prohibited from providing material that could be submitted in an examination by students at this University or elsewhere.

Auto-plagiarism You must not submit work for assessment that you have already submitted (partially or in full), either for your current course or for another qualification of this, or any other, university, unless this is specifically provided for in the special regulations for your course. Where earlier work by you is citable, ie. it has already been published, you must reference it clearly. Identical pieces of work submitted concurrently will also be considered to be auto-plagiarism.

Why does plagiarism matter?

Plagiarism is a breach of academic integrity. It is a principle of intellectual honesty that all members of the academic community should acknowledge their debt to the originators of the ideas, words, and data which form the basis for their own work. Passing off another’s work as your own is not only poor scholarship, but also means that you have failed to complete the learning process. Plagiarism is unethical and can have serious consequences for your future career; it also undermines the standards of your institution and of the degrees it issues.

Why should you avoid plagiarism?

There are many reasons to avoid plagiarism. You have come to university to learn to know and speak your own mind, not merely to reproduce the opinions of others - at least not without attribution. At first it may seem very difficult to develop your own views, and you will probably find yourself paraphrasing the writings of others as you attempt to understand and assimilate their arguments. However it is important that you learn to develop your own voice. You are not necessarily expected to become an original thinker, but you are expected to be an independent one - by learning to assess critically the work of others, weigh up differing arguments and draw your own conclusions. Students who plagiarise undermine the ethos of academic scholarship while avoiding an essential part of the learning process.

You should avoid plagiarism because you aspire to produce work of the highest quality. Once you have grasped the principles of source use and citation, you should find it relatively straightforward to steer clear of plagiarism. Moreover, you will reap the additional benefits of improvements to both the lucidity and quality of your writing. It is important to appreciate that mastery of the techniques of academic writing is not merely a practical skill, but one that lends both credibility and authority to your work, and demonstrates your commitment to the principle of intellectual honesty in scholarship.

What happens if you are thought to have plagiarised?

The University regards plagiarism in examinations as a serious matter. Cases will be investigated and penalties may range from deduction of marks to expulsion from the University, depending on the seriousness of the occurrence. Even if plagiarism is inadvertent, it can result in a penalty. The forms of plagiarism listed above are all potentially disciplinary offences in the context of formal assessment requirements.

The regulations regarding conduct in examinations apply equally to the ‘submission and assessment of a thesis, dissertation, essay, or other coursework not undertaken in formal examination conditions but which counts towards or constitutes the work for a degree or other academic award’. Additionally, this includes the transfer and confirmation of status exercises undertaken by graduate students. Cases of suspected plagiarism in assessed work are investigated under the disciplinary regulations concerning conduct in examinations. Intentional plagiarism in this context means that you understood that you were breaching the regulations and did so intending to gain advantage in the examination. Reckless, in this context, means that you understood or could be expected to have understood (even if you did not specifically consider it) that your work might breach the regulations, but you took no action to avoid doing so. Intentional or reckless plagiarism may incur severe penalties, including failure of your degree or expulsion from the university.

If plagiarism is suspected in a piece of work submitted for assessment in an examination, the matter will be referred to the Proctors. They will thoroughly investigate the claim and call the student concerned for interview. If at this point there is no evidence of a breach of the regulations, no further disciplinary action will be taken although there may still be an academic penalty. However, if it is concluded that a breach of the regulations may have occurred, the Proctors will refer the case to the Student Disciplinary Panel.

If you are suspected of plagiarism your College Secretary/Academic Administrator and subject tutor will support you through the process and arrange for a member of Congregation to accompany you to all hearings. They will be able to advise you what to expect during the investigation and how best to make your case. The OUSU Student Advice Service can also provide useful information and support. 

Does this mean that I shouldn’t use the work of other authors?

On the contrary, it is vital that you situate your writing within the intellectual debates of your discipline. Academic essays almost always involve the use and discussion of material written by others, and, with due acknowledgement and proper referencing, this is clearly distinguishable from plagiarism. The knowledge in your discipline has developed cumulatively as a result of years of research, innovation and debate. You need to give credit to the authors of the ideas and observations you cite. Not only does this accord recognition to their work, it also helps you to strengthen your argument by making clear the basis on which you make it. Moreover, good citation practice gives your reader the opportunity to follow up your references, or check the validity of your interpretation.

Does every statement in my essay have to be backed up with references?

You may feel that including the citation for every point you make will interrupt the flow of your essay and make it look very unoriginal. At least initially, this may sometimes be inevitable. However, by employing good citation practice from the start, you will learn to avoid errors such as close paraphrasing or inadequately referenced quotation. It is important to understand the reasons behind the need for transparency of source use.

All academic texts, even student essays, are multi-voiced, which means they are filled with references to other texts. Rather than attempting to synthesise these voices into one narrative account, you should make it clear whose interpretation or argument you are employing at any one time - whose ‘voice’ is speaking.

If you are substantially indebted to a particular argument in the formulation of your own, you should make this clear both in footnotes and in the body of your text according to the agreed conventions of the discipline, before going on to describe how your own views develop or diverge from this influence.

On the other hand, it is not necessary to give references for facts that are common knowledge in your discipline. If you are unsure as to whether something is considered to be common knowledge or not, it is safer to cite it anyway and seek clarification. You do need to document facts that are not generally known and ideas that are interpretations of facts. 

Does this only matter in exams?

Although plagiarism in weekly essays does not constitute a University disciplinary offence, it may well lead to College disciplinary measures. Persistent academic under-performance can even result in your being sent down from the University. Although tutorial essays traditionally do not require the full scholarly apparatus of footnotes and referencing, it is still necessary to acknowledge your sources and demonstrate the development of your argument, usually by an in-text reference. Many tutors will ask that you do employ a formal citation style early on, and you will find that this is good preparation for later project and dissertation work. In any case, your work will benefit considerably if you adopt good scholarly habits from the start, together with the techniques of critical thinking and writing described above.

As junior members of the academic community, students need to learn how to read academic literature and how to write in a style appropriate to their discipline. This does not mean that you must become masters of jargon and obfuscation; however the process is akin to learning a new language. It is necessary not only to learn new terminology, but the practical study skills and other techniques which will help you to learn effectively.

Developing these skills throughout your time at university will not only help you to produce better coursework, dissertations, projects and exam papers, but will lay the intellectual foundations for your future career. Even if you have no intention of becoming an academic, being able to analyse evidence, exercise critical judgement, and write clearly and persuasively are skills that will serve you for life, and which any employer will value.

Borrowing essays from other students to adapt and submit as your own is plagiarism, and will develop none of these necessary skills, holding back your academic development. Students who lend essays for this purpose are doing their peers no favours.

Unintentional plagiarism

Not all cases of plagiarism arise from a deliberate intention to cheat. Sometimes students may omit to take down citation details when taking notes, or they may be genuinely ignorant of referencing conventions. However, these excuses offer no sure protection against a charge of plagiarism. Even in cases where the plagiarism is found to have been neither intentional nor reckless, there may still be an academic penalty for poor practice.

It is your responsibility to find out the prevailing referencing conventions in your discipline, to take adequate notes, and to avoid close paraphrasing. If you are offered induction sessions on plagiarism and study skills, you should attend. Together with the advice contained in your subject handbook, these will help you learn how to avoid common errors. If you are undertaking a project or dissertation you should ensure that you have information on plagiarism and collusion. If ever in doubt about referencing, paraphrasing or plagiarism, you have only to ask your tutor.

Examples of plagiarism

There are some helpful examples of plagiarism-by-paraphrase and you will also find extensive advice on the referencing and library skills pages.

The following examples demonstrate some of the common pitfalls to avoid. These examples use the referencing system prescribed by the History Faculty but should be of use to students of all disciplines.

Source text

From a class perspective this put them [highwaymen] in an ambivalent position. In aspiring to that proud, if temporary, status of ‘Gentleman of the Road’, they did not question the inegalitarian hierarchy of their society. Yet their boldness of act and deed, in putting them outside the law as rebellious fugitives, revivified the ‘animal spirits’ of capitalism and became an essential part of the oppositional culture of working-class London, a serious obstacle to the formation of a tractable, obedient labour force. Therefore, it was not enough to hang them – the values they espoused or represented had to be challenged.

(Linebaugh, P., The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1991), p. 213. [You should give the reference in full the first time you use it in a footnote; thereafter it is acceptable to use an abbreviated version, e.g. Linebaugh, The London Hanged, p. 213.]

Plagiarised

  • Although they did not question the inegalitarian hierarchy of their society, highwaymen became an essential part of the oppositional culture of working-class London, posing a serious threat to the formation of a biddable labour force. (This is a patchwork of phrases copied verbatim from the source, with just a few words changed here and there. There is no reference to the original author and no indication that these words are not the writer’s own.)
  • Although they did not question the inegalitarian hierarchy of their society, highwaymen exercised a powerful attraction for the working classes. Some historians believe that this hindered the development of a submissive workforce. (This is a mixture of verbatim copying and acceptable paraphrase. Although only one phrase has been copied from the source, this would still count as plagiarism. The idea expressed in the first sentence has not been attributed at all, and the reference to ‘some historians’ in the second is insufficient. The writer should use clear referencing to acknowledge all ideas taken from other people’s work.)
  • Although they did not question the inegalitarian hierarchy of their society, highwaymen ‘became an essential part of the oppositional culture of working-class London [and] a serious obstacle to the formation of a tractable, obedient labour force’.1 (This contains a mixture of attributed and unattributed quotation, which suggests to the reader that the first line is original to this writer. All quoted material must be enclosed in quotation marks and adequately referenced.)
  • Highwaymen’s bold deeds ‘revivified the “animal spirits” of capitalism’ and made them an essential part of the oppositional culture of working-class London.1 Peter Linebaugh argues that they posed a major obstacle to the formation of an obedient labour force. (Although the most striking phrase has been placed within quotation marks and correctly referenced, and the original author is referred to in the text, there has been a great deal of unacknowledged borrowing. This should have been put into the writer’s own words instead.)
  • By aspiring to the title of ‘Gentleman of the Road’, highwaymen did not challenge the unfair taxonomy of their society. Yet their daring exploits made them into outlaws and inspired the antagonistic culture of labouring London, forming a grave impediment to the development of a submissive workforce. Ultimately, hanging them was insufficient – the ideals they personified had to be discredited.1 (This may seem acceptable on a superficial level, but by imitating exactly the structure of the original passage and using synonyms for almost every word, the writer has paraphrased too closely. The reference to the original author does not make it clear how extensive the borrowing has been. Instead, the writer should try to express the argument in his or her own words, rather than relying on a ‘translation’ of the original.)

Non-plagiarised

  • Peter Linebaugh argues that although highwaymen posed no overt challenge to social orthodoxy – they aspired to be known as ‘Gentlemen of the Road’ – they were often seen as anti-hero role models by the unruly working classes. He concludes that they were executed not only for their criminal acts, but in order to stamp out the threat of insubordinacy.1 (This paraphrase of the passage is acceptable as the wording and structure demonstrate the reader’s interpretation of the passage and do not follow the original too closely. The source of the ideas under discussion has been properly attributed in both textual and footnote references.)
  • Peter Linebaugh argues that highwaymen represented a powerful challenge to the mores of capitalist society and inspired the rebelliousness of London’s working class.1 (This is a brief summary of the argument with appropriate attribution.) 1 Linebaugh, P., The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1991), p. 213.

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Plagiarism: Don't let it happen to you!

  • Academic Integrity @ SCU
  • Plagiarism Defined

Types of Plagiarism

  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Paraphrasing
  • Citing Properly

"Plagiarism" in Popular Culture

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  • Johnny Cash vs Gordon Jenkins, "Folsom Prison Blues" (1968)

Direct Plagiarism

Also known as verbatim plagiarism, this is one of the most serious academic offenses. It involves deliberately copying your sources word for word without citing them, trying to claim ownership of the text falsely, and making most of your content just a copy/paste of someone else’s ideas.

Don't be a "Ghost Writer" - The writer who turns in another's work, word-for-word, as his or her own.

Mosaic Plagiarism

This involves intertwining someone else’s work with your original research and opinions. This is one of the most deceptive forms of plagiarism and often includes copying text from several different sources, paraphrasing a few sentences, and then adding a few original lines – all without changing the ultimate meaning of the source content.

Paraphrasing Plagiarism

As its name suggests, this involves paraphrasing, or simply altering, a few phrases from your source material while still keeping most of the structure and meaning intact. This is the most common type of plagiarism and one of the most difficult to avoid. 

Keep in mind that translating another’s work from a foreign language into English is also a type of paraphrasing plagiarism.

Self-Plagiarism

This involves copying all or a large chunk of your own previous original work without citing it as a source in your new paper. In essence, it’s the same as verbatim plagiarism, even though you’re using your own work. In instances where you copy your work for another course (for example), you likely won't get caught, but that doesn't make it ethical.

Don't be a "Self-Stealer" - The writer who borrows generously from his or her previous work, with or without citing properly. Set yourself an expectation of originality that aligns with the expectations set by SCU.

Accidental Plagiarism

This typically refers to mistakes made in the citation, such as leaving out the quotation marks; you’ve paraphrased a passage from another’s piece of writing without realizing it and you’ve forgotten to include the source. Accidental plagiarism is one of the most difficult to avoid, so it's important to be diligent in your note-taking.

Source-Based Plagiarism

This involves omitting one or more sources from your references list. In cases where you pull information from several different texts, you may only cite the primary data source. The most severe source-based plagiarism involves falsifying sources and making up facts and data. 

FixGerald. (2021, August 4). Everything you should know about types of plagiarism.  https://fixgerald.com/blog/types-of-plagiarism

NYU Libraries. (2022, December 16). Plagiarism and how to avoid it.  https://guides.nyu.edu/plagiarism

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8 types of plagiarism (and how to avoid them)

Understanding and evading accidental and intentional plagiarism.

You’ve probably heard of plagiarism as a practice that’s sternly frowned upon by both the academic world and the publishing industry. But what exactly are the different types, and how do you avoid stumbling into them by mistake?

It can happen accidentally, intentionally, or somewhere in between. We want to show you how to avoid it in your work, as well as how to borrow thoughts from other writers ethically and responsibly.  

What Is Plagiarism?

Quick plagiarism definition: It is the act of taking another’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. This can happen through both deliberate dishonesty or everyday carelessness. 

It might look like copying someone else’s text and pretending you came up with it yourself, paraphrasing outside material without using a proper citation, or borrowing a general thought and presenting it as something new and original. 

At its worst, deliberate plagiarism is a form of literary theft. At its best, it can be an honest mistake that comes from a lack of understanding. Unfortunately, both can land you in serious trouble and have a lasting impact on your academic career. 

Why Is Plagiarism Such a Problem?

So we know that it's dishonest and lazy, but is plagiarism illegal? Somewhat surprisingly, yes. In the United States, original ideas are considered “intellectual property.” It doesn’t even matter if they’ve been professionally published or not; they just need to have been written down on paper or recorded in a computer file. This means that yes, copying off your friend’s assignment and pretending you wrote it is illegal, plain and simple.

More than that, it impacts the academic integrity of the school or institution that you’re representing. Imagine that a university awarded a degree to a student who plagiarized their thesis. If this becomes known, that university is suddenly no longer considered a trustworthy source, and their degrees no longer carry as much weight in the industry. 

It’s the same if you’re producing a written work, such as a novel or nonfiction book. If a substantial amount of it was plagiarized, the publisher—as well as book shops stocking your book—will have sacrificed their integrity and the trust of their readers. They’ll take steps to regain that trust by pulling your book off the shelves and from production, doing irreparable damage to your career as a writer.

The final reason why plagiarizing is so bad is incredibly simple, yet arguably the most important one of all: Y ou don’t learn anything. Academia teaches you important knowledge, certainly, but also how to use that knowledge to form new ideas. When you take the work of others and present it as your own, you end up exactly where you started. If avoiding plagiarism for the sake of others isn’t enough, at least avoid it for the sake of your own potential. 

Is It Okay to Borrow Other Writers’ Ideas?

All of that said, every great thought was informed by the legacy of great ideas that came before it. This is especially true in nonfiction, such as essays, where you’ll inevitably draw on the theories and discoveries of others to inform your work. So is it alright to use those ideas in your writing to get a message across to your reader?

It is absolutely okay to show the thinking of writers who came before you, as long as you are very clear about where those ideas came from and use proper citations. Once you show your reader what other writers have said, introduce them to your own unique take on it. Answer any questions that arose for you and share the perspective your readers might approach it from today. It's also worth noting that once ideas become common knowledge, they no longer require citation.

In short, you should take the literary torch from these writers and carry it forward in a new direction. 

Types of Plagiarism   

1. global plagiarism  .

Also called “complete plagiarism,” this occurs when every single word of an entire work is falsely represented as your own. This might be something like an assignment, a thesis, a manuscript, or even marketing copy. This is the type of intentional plagiarism we usually see dramatized in film and TV. One character steals another’s life’s work, passes it off as their own, and the scorned writer has to fight to reclaim their honor.

2. Direct Plagiarism

Also called “verbatim plagiarism,” this follows the same thread as global in that it’s misrepresenting someone else’s words as your own. The difference is that while global plagiarism takes an entire completed work, direct or verbatim refers to smaller pieces—certain sentences, paragraphs, or sections of plagiarized writing. This happens commonly if you forget to include quotation marks or properly cite your different sources.

3. Mosaic Plagiarism 

Also called “patchwork plagiarism,” this occurs when you take pieces of various outside sources and compile them into a single piece. Sometimes it’s done intentionally, but it can also be done by accident—for example, if you’re reading through a lot of original source material and can’t quite remember what came from where. Mosaic plagiarism can also be the result of interspersing sections of another's words throughout your own writing, making it harder to detect. This is why it’s so essential to keep careful track of your sources. 

4. Paraphrasing Plagiarism 

Paraphrasing plagiarism happens when you take another writer’s ideas and put them into your own words—so far so good—but don’t give them any credit—not so good. Even if you’re not copying it word for word, you still need to properly cite the source of the information you’re using. You can do this right in the text (“Harry J. Stuffington, in his groundbreaking essay, Why Copying is a Fast Track to Obscurity , explores the premise that...”), or you can include your citation at the end of your writing. 

5. Source-based Plagiarism

This occurs when your sources are cited inaccurately or incompletely. It might be when you only cite a few main sources but not everything that you used, or if you accidentally miscredit the original author. For example, if you use an article that had been written by two people, but you only list the first author in your citations, that’s source-based plagiarism. Another example is if you create artificial sources to give validity to your writing—for instance, if you claim the New York Times published a similar idea to yours when they didn’t. This can also be easy to do by mistake if you don’t keep careful track of your resources. 

6. Inaccurate Authorship

Inaccurate authorship can overlap with some of these other types, but it comes down to misleading attribution, or misrepresenting the people responsible for the writing. Sometimes called “collaboration plagiarism,” this most commonly happens when two or more people collaborate on a paper but only one person is given credit. This might be a friend, a tutor, or a parent who ends up writing sections. While it’s always helpful to have a third party look over your work for typos and areas with awkward sentence structure, it’s essential that the final product be entirely your own. 

7. Self-plagiarism 

This occurs when you reuse your own writing and submit it as something original. This can be something like repurposing your previous work, such as a research paper written in high school for a college assignment or using the same essay twice for two different classes. While this type isn’t strictly illegal—the “intellectual property” is your own—it is dishonest and often against a school’s academic policies. It can also cause you legal problems if you’re submitting an original work for publication and claiming it to be “previously unpublished,” when in fact it contains very similar content to other published work. 

8. Accidental Plagiarism 

Accidental plagiarism happens when you don’t realize how closely you’ve imitated another person's words or you make a mistake when compiling your cited sources. When you’re up late and sprawled across a stack of books, articles, and hyperlinks, it’s easy to forget where you found every detail you’re writing about; you might even forget that you didn’t come up with it yourself! While plagiarism gets a lot of flack in the academic world, the truth is that the majority is unintentional. This is why it’s so important to make notes and keep track of everything as you go.

3 Ways To Avoid Plagiarism

As you can see, plagiarism comes in many forms, some of them sneakier than others. It’s essential to have a clear, thorough understanding of what the different types are so that you have a better chance of avoiding it. Here are a few tips and tricks to avoid it in your writing. 

1. Write Down Everything

One more time for the people in the back : Keep track of everything that you read. Use page markers to remind yourself where ideas came from. Whenever anything seems like it will be useful, make a quick note along with the source (book, article title, website) and the page number if applicable. Something like, “That cool thing about Elizabeth Bathory’s mom: Witches, Woodwives, and Other 16th Century Women You Wouldn’t Want to Meet in a Dark Alley , page 78.” This way when you cite sources at the end of your work, you won’t miss any of your references (and you’ll be able to find everything again). 

2. Compare Ideas

While doing research for your writing, you’ll inevitably look at several different perspectives on your topic. Not only will doing so provide a broader scope from which to write down important key points, it will also offer a deeper understanding of the topic so you can begin forming your own ideas. When you’re able to look at contradictory perspectives on a subject and ask yourself questions like, “Do I agree with what this person is saying? Why or why not? What do I think? ,” you’ll be able to start building thoughts that come from you, not just from other people.

3. Use Your Own Voice

Your written voice is as unique as your speaking one, and embracing it is a huge part of avoiding plagiarizing the voices of others. During your research, try to develop a thorough understanding of the theses presented. Once you feel you know them comfortably and intimately, you can take a step back and summarize those ideas in your own words. Not only will this improve the quality of your submission, it will also improve the way you learn about the subject. As we saw above in, however, you still need to make sure to accurately credit these ideas.

Never Plagiarize Again

These types of plagiarism are a serious offense in the academic and professional world, but most of the time they’re completely avoidable. If you're still nervous about it, try a plagiarism checker (a quick Google search should turn up some free options!). As long as you stay organized during your writing process, absorb the information and examine it from your own perspective, and accurately record your source material, you’ll be safe from plagiarism and you’ll get a better learning experience out of it, too.

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  • The 5 Types of Plagiarism | Explanations & Examples

The 5 Types of Plagiarism | Explanations & Examples

Published on 2 July 2019 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on 13 April 2023 by Jack Caulfield.

Plagiarism comes in many forms, some more severe than others—from rephrasing someone’s ideas without acknowledgement to stealing a whole essay. These are the five most common types of plagiarism:

  • Global plagiarism means passing off an entire text by someone else as your own work.
  • Verbatim plagiarism means directly copying someone else’s words.
  • Paraphrasing plagiarism means rephrasing someone else’s ideas to present them as your own.
  • Patchwork plagiarism means stitching together parts of different sources to create your text.
  • Self-plagiarism means recycling your own past work.

Types of plagiarism

Except for global plagiarism, these types of plagiarism are often accidental, resulting from failure to understand how to properly quote, paraphrase, and cite your sources. If you’re concerned about accidental plagiarism, a plagiarism checker , like the one from Scribbr, can help.

Table of contents

Global plagiarism: plagiarising an entire text, verbatim plagiarism: copying words directly, paraphrasing plagiarism: rephrasing ideas, patchwork plagiarism: stitching together sources, self-plagiarism: plagiarising your own work, frequently asked questions about plagiarism.

Global plagiarism means taking an entire work by someone else and passing it off as your own.

For example, if you get someone else to write an essay or assignment for you, or if you find a text online and submit it as your own work, you are committing global plagiarism.

Because it involves deliberately and directly lying about the authorship of a work, this is one of the most serious types of plagiarism, and it can have severe consequences .

Avoiding this kind of plagiarism is straightforward: just write your own essays!

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Verbatim plagiarism, also called direct plagiarism, means copying and pasting someone else’s words into your own work without attribution.

This could be text that’s completely identical to the original or slightly altered. If the structure and the majority of the words are the same as in the original, this counts as verbatim plagiarism, even if you delete or change a couple of words.

In academic writing, you can and should refer to the words of others. To avoid verbatim plagiarism, you just need to quote the original source by putting the copied text in quotation marks and including an in-text citation . You can use the free Scribbr Citation Generator to create correctly formatted citations in MLA or APA Style .

Generate accurate citations with Scribbr

Most plagiarism checkers can easily detect verbatim plagiarism.

Example of verbatim plagiarism

Direct plagiarism detected by Turnitin

Paraphrasing means rephrasing a piece of text in your own words. Paraphrasing without citation is the most common type of plagiarism.

Paraphrasing, like quoting, is a legitimate way to incorporate the ideas of others into your writing. It only becomes plagiarism when you rewrite a source’s points as if they were your own. To avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing, cite your sources just as you would when quoting.

If you translate a piece of text from another language without citation, this is also a type of paraphrasing plagiarism. Translated text should always be cited; you’re still using someone else’s ideas, even if they’re in a different language.

Example of paraphrasing

Patchwork plagiarism, also called mosaic plagiarism, means copying phrases, passages, and ideas from different sources and putting them together to create a new text.

This can include slightly rephrasing passages while keeping many of the same words and much of the same structure as the original, and inserting your own words here and there to stitch the plagiarised text together. Make sure to cite your sources whenever you quote or paraphrase to avoid plagiarism.

This type of plagiarism requires a little more effort and is more insidious than just copying and pasting from a source, but plagiarism checkers like Turnitin can still easily detect it.

Example of patchwork plagiarism

Patchwork plagiarism detected by Turnitin

Self-plagiarism means reusing work that you’ve previously submitted or published. It amounts to academic dishonesty to present a paper or a piece of data as brand new when you’ve already gotten credit for the work.

The most serious form of self-plagiarism is to turn in a paper you already submitted for a grade to another class. Unless you have explicit permission to do so, this is always considered self-plagiarism.

Self-plagiarism can also occur when you reuse ideas, phrases or data from your previous assignments. Reworking old ideas and passages is not plagiarism as long as you have permission to do so and you cite your previous work to make their origins clear.

Scribbr’s Self-Plagiarism Checker

Online plagiarism scanners don’t have access to internal university databases and therefore can’t check your document for self-plagiarism.

Using Scribbr’s Self-Plagiarism Checker , you can upload your previous work and compare it to your current document. The checker will scan the texts for similarities and flag any passages where you might have self-plagiarized.

Global plagiarism means taking an entire work written by someone else and passing it off as your own. This can include getting someone else to write an essay or assignment for you, or submitting a text you found online as your own work.

Global plagiarism is one of the most serious types of plagiarism because it involves deliberately and directly lying about the authorship of a work. It can have severe consequences for students and professionals alike.

Verbatim plagiarism means copying text from a source and pasting it directly into your own document without giving proper credit.

If the structure and the majority of the words are the same as in the original source, then you are committing verbatim plagiarism. This is the case even if you delete a few words or replace them with synonyms.

If you want to use an author’s exact words, you need to quote the original source by putting the copied text in quotation marks and including an   in-text citation .

Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly reference the source . This means including an in-text referencing and a full reference , formatted according to your required citation style (e.g., Harvard , Vancouver ).

As well as referencing your source, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.

Patchwork plagiarism , also called mosaic plagiarism, means copying phrases, passages, or ideas from various existing sources and combining them to create a new text. This includes slightly rephrasing some of the content, while keeping many of the same words and the same structure as the original.

While this type of plagiarism is more insidious than simply copying and pasting directly from a source, plagiarism checkers like Turnitin’s can still easily detect it.

To avoid plagiarism in any form, remember to reference your sources .

Yes, reusing your own work without citation is considered self-plagiarism . This can range from resubmitting an entire assignment to reusing passages or data from something you’ve handed in previously.

Self-plagiarism often has the same consequences as other types of plagiarism . If you want to reuse content you wrote in the past, make sure to check your university’s policy or consult your professor.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

Streefkerk, R. (2023, April 13). The 5 Types of Plagiarism | Explanations & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 27 May 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/preventing-plagiarism/types-of-plagiarism/

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What Is Plagiarism?

Defining Plagiarism and Techniques to Avoid It

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types of plagiarism essay

  • B.A., American Studies, Yale University

Plagiarism is the practice of taking credit for someone else's words or ideas. It's an act of intellectual dishonesty. In colleges and universities, it violates honor codes and can cause irreparable damage to a person's reputation. It also comes with serious consequences ; a plagiarized assignment may lead to a failing grade, a suspension, or an expulsion.

Clearly, the issue is not to be taken lightly. However, if you act with academic integrity, it's also nothing to fear. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to understand the concept itself.  

Types of Plagiarism 

Some forms of plagiarism are obvious. Copying someone else's essay word for word and submitting it as your own? Plagiarism, of course. Turning in an essay you bought from a paper mill is too. The issue is not always so blatant, however. In addition to overt acts of academic dishonesty, other, more complex forms of plagiarism exist, and they lead to similar consequences nonetheless.

  • Direct plagiarism  is the act of copying another person's work word for word. Inserting a paragraph from a book or article into your essay without including attribution or quotation marks, for example, is direct plagiarism. Paying someone to write an essay for you and submitting it as your own work is also direct plagiarism. If you commit direct plagiarism, you're likely to be caught thanks to software and tools such as  Turnitin .
  • Paraphrased plagiarism  involves making a few (often cosmetic) changes to someone else’s work, then passing it off as your own. Unless a specific idea is common knowledge , you cannot include it in your paper without providing a citation—even if you do not include any direct quotes. 
  • "Mosaic" plagiarism  is a combination of direct and paraphrased plagiarism. This type involves tossing various words, phrases, and sentences (some word for word, some paraphrased) into your essay without providing quotation marks or attributions.  
  • Accidental plagiarism  occurs when citations are missing, sources are cited incorrectly, or an author shares an idea without a citation that isn't as common of knowledge as they thought. Accidental plagiarism is often the result of a disorganized research process and a last-minute time crunch. Ultimately, if you fail to cite your sources appropriately, you've committed plagiarism—even if you had every intention of giving credit.

How to Avoid Plagiarism 

Not everyone who plagiarizes starts out with the goal of stealing someone else's work. Sometimes, plagiarism is simply the result of poor planning and a few bad, panicked decisions. Don't fall victim to the plagiarism trap. Follow these tips to produce successful, original academic writing .

Begin the research process as early as possible ,   preferably as soon as you receive a new assignment. Read each source carefully. Take breaks between reading sessions to absorb the information. Explain each source's key ideas out loud, without referencing the original text. Then, write down each source’s main arguments in your own words. This process will ensure you have plenty of time to both absorb your sources' ideas and formulate your own.

Write a thorough outline.  After you’ve spent time researching and brainstorming, write a detailed  outline  of your paper. Focus on pinpointing your own original argument. As you outline, imagine yourself in conversation with your sources. Instead of restating your source's ideas, examine them and consider how they relate to your own.

Paraphrase “blind.”  If you plan to explain an author’s ideas in your paper, write the explanation without looking at the original text. If you find this process tricky, try writing out the ideas in a conversational tone, as though you’re explaining the idea to a friend. Then  rewrite the information in a more appropriate tone for your paper. 

Keep track of your sources.  Make a list of every source you read, even the ones you don’t expect to refer to in your paper. As you write, create a running bibliography using a free bibliography generator tool. Anytime you quote or paraphrase an author’s ideas in your draft, include the source information right next to the relevant sentence. If you’re writing a long paper, consider using a free citation organization tool such as  Zotero or EndNote .

Use an online plagiarism checker.  Although online tools are not foolproof, it’s a good idea to run your paper through a plagiarism checker before submitting it. You may discover that you’ve unintentionally composed a sentence that closely resembles something written by one of your sources or failed to include a citation for one of your direct quotes. Free resources such as  Quetext  compare your work to millions of documents and search for close matches. Your professor probably uses these tools, and you should too.

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Plagiarism Overview 

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Plagiarism  is  using  someone else’s ideas or words without giving them proper credit.  Plagiarism can range from unintentional (forgetting to include a source in a bibliography) to intentional (buying a paper online, using another writer’s ideas as your own to make your work sound smarter). Beginning writers and expert writers   alike can all plagiarize.  Understand that plagiarism is a serious charge in academia, but also in professional setting s . 

If you are...

  • a student — consequences can include failing grades on assignments or classes, academic probation, and even expulsion.
  • a researcher — plagiarism can cause a loss of credibility, legal consequences, and other professional consequences.
  • an employee in a corporate or similar setting — you can receive a reprimand or lose your job.

It is important to recognize that standards and conventions for citing sources vary from the classroom to scholarly publishing to the professional sphere, sometimes very widely, but in all  situations  we must attribute other people’s words and ideas to their appropriate source.

Please note:  This resource, which does not reflect any official university policy, is designed to help you develop strategies for knowing how to avoid accidental plagiarism. For instructors seeking a key statement on definitions and avoidance on plagiarism, see  Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices .  

In addition, there is a one page handout available that provides an overview of plagiarism with answers to common questions asked about how to avoid it.

Intellectual Challenges in American Academic Writing

There are some intellectual challenges that all students are faced with when writing. Sometimes these challenges can almost seem like contradictions, particularly when addressing them within a single paper.   

For example, American teachers often instruct students to:  

  • Develop a topic based on what has already been said and written   BUT write something new and original.  
  • Rely on experts’ and authorities’ opinions BUT build upon and/or disagree with those opinions.
  • Give credit to previous researchers BUT make your own significant contribution.  
  • Improve your English to fit into a discourse community by building upon what you hear and read BUT use your own words and your own voices.  

This may sound confusing, however, something simple to keep in mind when it comes to research is: You are not reinventing the wheel, you are simply contributing in a significant way. For beginners, this can be a challenge, but once you start to see that there is a pattern that is unique to you, you will find that plagiarism is not needed. Remember — your professor or your supervisor want your ideas to build on what is already established or familiar and NOT to simply repurpose someone else’s ideas and calling it your own.   

Why is understanding this so important? Plagiarism is not a victimless crime. Someone, including yourself, will get hurt.   

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Anti-Plagiarism and Academic Integrity: Types of Plagiarism

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Types of Plagiarism

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Common Types of Plagiarism

Common types of Plagiarism include:

Copy-and-paste plagiarism: also known as direct plagiarism, means copying a passage from a source without a citation

Mosaic plagiarism: means using various phrases, passages and ideas from different sources to create a kind of “mosaic” or “patchwork” of other researchers’ work, without proper citations.

Self-plagiarism: means reusing parts of your own previous work like submitting the same paper to a different class or recycling a dataset) without acknowledging this.

Global plagiarism: Global plagiarism means submitting an entire work written by someone else. That includes having a friend write your paper for you or buying an essay from an online essay mill.

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Plagiarism and How to Avoid It Essay

Introduction, examples of plagiarism, reference list.

Plagiarism and other unfair practices are a problem for international students. This has resulted from increased use of other people’s inventions and ideas in learning institutions by lecturers without giving due credit to the sources of these ideas (Hall, 2004, para.1).

Plagiarism is described as a fraud in the sense that people obtain other people’s original ideas and cite them as their own inventions without crediting their source. Some students copy other people’s work directly from various sources such as books, articles or internet articles and present it as their own original work. Where an individual uses another person’s ideas and consequently fail to acknowledge the source of the information, such an act leads to plagiarism (Hall, 2004, para. 2).

Many people commit the act unconsciously. In a given case, one can find information which is relevant to the study or research being conducted thus copying it directly or does not give credit to the author. To avoid plagiarism, the researcher must ensure that the work being presented is legitimate.

Example of plagiarism- From 1945 onwards, there has been a fundamental hypothesis that poorer countries of the world are slowly developing towards the western model. In addition, there has been a view that the international aid policy should be geared to this end. Many Arab countries for example Japan-restructured under US guidance after 1945, believe in this hypothesis. The word bank categorizes countries either as high, middle and low income.

The low income countries are characterized by high levels of deceases, poverty, and are working hard with the help of high and middle countries to assist the improve their living standards by assuming western-style economic managements and institutions. This phrase is plagiarized and to some extent the original meaning intended by the author is changed.

Also, the source of the information is not reflected in the text. To avoid plagiarism, this phrase should have been presented as follows; since the World War II, countries which were poorly developed are believed to be adopting western style with examples of Japan (currently developed) in order to develop. This has created levels of development among the developed and developing countries (Buckley, 2004, p.7).

The second example of plagiarism is also illustrated as follows; a person can be a good conversationalist by being a good listener. When one is conversing with someone else, he / she should pay close attention to the words of the speaker and also looking at his or her face. One should show the interest by smiling and/or nodding.

In addition, one should not interrupt while the other is speaking: this is impolite. If one has a good story, he / she should wait until the speaker has finished. To add on this, one should watch the body language as can affect the communication whether one is the speaker or the listener. For instance, one should not sit slumped in a chair or make nervous hand and foot movements. One should be relaxed and bending the body slightly forward to show interest in the person and the conversation.

This phrase lacks the source of this information. Also, it is apparent that the information has been obtained from another source and changed to represent the third person.

To avoid plagiarism, this should have been presented as follows; conversation flows as expected and smoothly if the parties involved are paying attention to each other’s message, avoiding interruptions, showing positive responses and observing correct body languages. Ones behavior during conversation dictates much to the speaker of the kind of a listener a person is. Therefore, it is vital if one observes the necessary requirements during conversation (University of Portsmouth, 2008, p.27).

It is vital for writers to avoid plagiarism. This can only be attained if the sources used are properly documented and cited. Recognizing works of other people can be attained via use of footnotes, parenthetical references, or endnotes. In addition, at the end of the research paper, reference list or work cited page should be created Stanford University Libraries (2008, para.2).

Buckley, R. 2004. The Global village: challenges for a shrinking planet . USA: Garnet Publishing.

Hall, B. 2004. What is plagiarism and why it is important? Bloomington: Herman B Wells Library.

Stamford Universities Library.2008 . Plagiarism; how to avoid it . Stamford: Stamford Universities library.

University of Portsmouth. 2008. Academic Writing . Portsmouth: University of Portsmouth.

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Bibliography

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Academic Essay Writing Made Simple: 4 types and tips

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The pen is mightier than the sword, they say, and nowhere is this more evident than in academia. From the quick scribbles of eager students to the inquisitive thoughts of renowned scholars, academic essays depict the power of the written word. These well-crafted writings propel ideas forward and expand the existing boundaries of human intellect.

What is an Academic Essay

An academic essay is a nonfictional piece of writing that analyzes and evaluates an argument around a specific topic or research question. It serves as a medium to share the author’s views and is also used by institutions to assess the critical thinking, research skills, and writing abilities of a students and researchers.  

Importance of Academic Essays

4 main types of academic essays.

While academic essays may vary in length, style, and purpose, they generally fall into four main categories. Despite their differences, these essay types share a common goal: to convey information, insights, and perspectives effectively.

1. Expository Essay

2. Descriptive Essay

3. Narrative Essay

4. Argumentative Essay

Expository and persuasive essays mainly deal with facts to explain ideas clearly. Narrative and descriptive essays are informal and have a creative edge. Despite their differences, these essay types share a common goal ― to convey information, insights, and perspectives effectively.

Expository Essays: Illuminating ideas

An expository essay is a type of academic writing that explains, illustrates, or clarifies a particular subject or idea. Its primary purpose is to inform the reader by presenting a comprehensive and objective analysis of a topic.

By breaking down complex topics into digestible pieces and providing relevant examples and explanations, expository essays allow writers to share their knowledge.

What are the Key Features of an Expository Essay

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Provides factual information without bias

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Presents multiple viewpoints while maintaining objectivity

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Uses direct and concise language to ensure clarity for the reader

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Composed of a logical structure with an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion

When is an expository essay written.

1. For academic assignments to evaluate the understanding of research skills.

2. As instructional content to provide step-by-step guidance for tasks or problem-solving.

3. In journalism for objective reporting in news or investigative pieces.

4. As a form of communication in the professional field to convey factual information in business or healthcare.

How to Write an Expository Essay

Expository essays are typically structured in a logical and organized manner.

1. Topic Selection and Research

  • Choose a topic that can be explored objectively
  • Gather relevant facts and information from credible sources
  • Develop a clear thesis statement

2. Outline and Structure

  • Create an outline with an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion
  • Introduce the topic and state the thesis in the introduction
  • Dedicate each body paragraph to a specific point supporting the thesis
  • Use transitions to maintain a logical flow

3. Objective and Informative Writing

  • Maintain an impartial and informative tone
  • Avoid personal opinions or biases
  • Support points with factual evidence, examples, and explanations

4. Conclusion

  • Summarize the key points
  • Reinforce the significance of the thesis

Descriptive Essays: Painting with words

Descriptive essays transport readers into vivid scenes, allowing them to experience the world through the writer ‘s lens. These essays use rich sensory details, metaphors, and figurative language to create a vivid and immersive experience . Its primary purpose is to engage readers’ senses and imagination.

It allows writers to demonstrate their ability to observe and describe subjects with precision and creativity.

What are the Key Features of Descriptive Essay

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Employs figurative language and imagery to paint a vivid picture for the reader

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Demonstrates creativity and expressiveness in narration

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Includes close attention to detail, engaging the reader’s senses

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Engages the reader’s imagination and emotions through immersive storytelling using analogies, metaphors, similes, etc.

When is a descriptive essay written.

1. Personal narratives or memoirs that describe significant events, people, or places.

2. Travel writing to capture the essence of a destination or experience.

3. Character sketches in fiction writing to introduce and describe characters.

4. Poetry or literary analyses to explore the use of descriptive language and imagery.

How to Write a Descriptive Essay

The descriptive essay lacks a defined structural requirement but typically includes: an introduction introducing the subject, a thorough description, and a concluding summary with insightful reflection.

1. Subject Selection and Observation

  • Choose a subject (person, place, object, or experience) to describe
  • Gather sensory details and observations

2. Engaging Introduction

  • Set the scene and provide the context
  • Use of descriptive language and figurative techniques

3. Descriptive Body Paragraphs

  • Focus on specific aspects or details of the subject
  • Engage the reader ’s senses with vivid imagery and descriptions
  • Maintain a consistent tone and viewpoint

4. Impactful Conclusion

  • Provide a final impression or insight
  • Leave a lasting impact on the reader

Narrative Essays: Storytelling in Action

Narrative essays are personal accounts that tell a story, often drawing from the writer’s own experiences or observations. These essays rely on a well-structured plot, character development, and vivid descriptions to engage readers and convey a deeper meaning or lesson.

What are the Key features of Narrative Essays

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Written from a first-person perspective and hence subjective

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Based on real personal experiences

types of plagiarism essay

Uses an informal and expressive tone

types of plagiarism essay

Presents events and characters in sequential order

When is a narrative essay written.

It is commonly assigned in high school and college writing courses to assess a student’s ability to convey a meaningful message or lesson through a personal narrative. They are written in situations where a personal experience or story needs to be recounted, such as:

1. Reflective essays on significant life events or personal growth.

2. Autobiographical writing to share one’s life story or experiences.

3. Creative writing exercises to practice narrative techniques and character development.

4. College application essays to showcase personal qualities and experiences.

How to Write a Narrative Essay

Narrative essays typically follow a chronological structure, with an introduction that sets the scene, a body that develops the plot and characters, and a conclusion that provides a sense of resolution or lesson learned.

1. Experience Selection and Reflection

  • Choose a significant personal experience or event
  • Reflect on the impact and deeper meaning

2. Immersive Introduction

  • Introduce characters and establish the tone and point of view

3. Plotline and Character Development

  • Advance   the  plot and character development through body paragraphs
  • Incorporate dialog , conflict, and resolution
  • Maintain a logical and chronological flow

4. Insightful Conclusion

  • Reflect on lessons learned or insights gained
  • Leave the reader with a lasting impression

Argumentative Essays: Persuasion and Critical Thinking

Argumentative essays are the quintessential form of academic writing in which writers present a clear thesis and support it with well-researched evidence and logical reasoning. These essays require a deep understanding of the topic, critical analysis of multiple perspectives, and the ability to construct a compelling argument.

What are the Key Features of an Argumentative Essay?

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Logical and well-structured arguments

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Credible and relevant evidence from reputable sources

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Consideration and refutation of counterarguments

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Critical analysis and evaluation of the issue 

When is an argumentative essay written.

Argumentative essays are written to present a clear argument or stance on a particular issue or topic. In academic settings they are used to develop critical thinking, research, and persuasive writing skills. However, argumentative essays can also be written in various other contexts, such as:

1. Opinion pieces or editorials in newspapers, magazines, or online publications.

2. Policy proposals or position papers in government, nonprofit, or advocacy settings.

3. Persuasive speeches or debates in academic, professional, or competitive environments.

4. Marketing or advertising materials to promote a product, service, or idea.

How to write an Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essays begin with an introduction that states the thesis and provides context. The body paragraphs develop the argument with evidence, address counterarguments, and use logical reasoning. The conclusion restates the main argument and makes a final persuasive appeal.

  • Choose a debatable and controversial issue
  • Conduct thorough research and gather evidence and counterarguments

2. Thesis and Introduction

  • Craft a clear and concise thesis statement
  • Provide background information and establish importance

3. Structured Body Paragraphs

  • Focus each paragraph on a specific aspect of the argument
  • Support with logical reasoning, factual evidence, and refutation

4. Persuasive Techniques

  • Adopt a formal and objective tone
  • Use persuasive techniques (rhetorical questions, analogies, appeals)

5. Impactful Conclusion

  • Summarize the main points
  • Leave the reader with a strong final impression and call to action

To learn more about argumentative essay, check out this article .

5 Quick Tips for Researchers to Improve Academic Essay Writing Skills

types of plagiarism essay

Use clear and concise language to convey ideas effectively without unnecessary words

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Use well-researched, credible sources to substantiate your arguments with data, expert opinions, and scholarly references

types of plagiarism essay

Ensure a coherent structure with effective transitions, clear topic sentences, and a logical flow to enhance readability 

types of plagiarism essay

To elevate your academic essay, consider submitting your draft to a community-based platform like Open Platform  for editorial review 

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Review your work multiple times for clarity, coherence, and adherence to academic guidelines to ensure a polished final product

By mastering the art of academic essay writing, researchers and scholars can effectively communicate their ideas, contribute to the advancement of knowledge, and engage in meaningful scholarly discourse.

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  1. 10 Common Types of Plagiarism

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  2. The Common Types of Plagiarism

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  3. 10 Common Types of Plagiarism

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  4. Thirteen Types of Plagiarism Study Guide

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  5. What is Plagiarism

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  6. How to Avoid Plagiarism in Essay

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COMMENTS

  1. The 5 Types of Plagiarism

    Plagiarism comes in many forms, some more severe than others—from rephrasing someone's ideas without acknowledgement to stealing a whole essay. These are the five most common types of plagiarism: Global plagiarism means passing off an entire text by someone else as your own work.; Verbatim plagiarism means directly copying someone else's words. ...

  2. The 5 Types of Plagiarism

    Global plagiarism: Plagiarizing a complete text. Global plagiarism occurs when you claim an entire text by someone else as your own work. Common scenarios might be buying an essay or copying a sample essay online. Given that this type of plagiarism involves intentionally using someone else's work as if it were your own, it is the most serious type of plagiarism.

  3. What Is Plagiarism?

    Plagiarism means using someone else's work without giving them proper credit. In academic writing, plagiarizing involves using words, ideas, or information from a source without citing it correctly. In practice, this can mean a few different things. Examples of plagiarism.

  4. What Constitutes Plagiarism?

    If you copy bits and pieces from a source (or several sources), changing a few words here and there without either adequately paraphrasing or quoting directly, the result is mosaic plagiarism.Even if you don't intend to copy the source, you may end up with this type of plagiarism as a result of careless note-taking and confusion over where your source's ideas end and your own ideas begin.

  5. Examples of Plagiarism & Tips for Avoiding It

    Plagiarism means using someone else's words or ideas without properly crediting the original author. Some common examples of plagiarism include: Paraphrasing a source too closely. Including a direct quote without quotation marks. Copying elements of different sources and pasting them into a new document.

  6. Types of plagiarism

    This type of plagiarism means copy-pasting parts of other papers without using quotation marks to show they are exactly the same words, and without citing sources. Verbatim plagiarism is similar to global plagiarism, except that instead of copying an entire paper, you only copy parts: maybe a section, or a paragraph, or a few sentences.

  7. Types of Plagiarism

    In this section, we will explore the most common types of plagiarism including: " Direct Plagiarism is the word-for-word transcription of a section of someone else's work, without attribution and without quotation marks." This is also referred to as clone plagiarism. " Self-Plagiarism occurs when a student submits their previous work, or ...

  8. Types of plagiarism and how to avoid them

    Types of Plagiarism Definition. Plagiarism is defined as the taking of someone else's work and presenting it as one's own. The "work" may be words, an image, a video, a piece of music, research, or even an idea. There are several types of plagiarism that should be avoided. Overview of the Types of Plagiarism

  9. Essay Tips: 7 Types of Plagiarism

    Essay Tips: 7 Types of Plagiarism. Essay writing can be stressful. You need to research your topic, write the essay, and compile a reference list that matches the required referencing style.And it all becomes more complicated with a thesis or dissertation.. Additionally, you must avoid the cardinal sin of essay writing: plagiarism!

  10. Plagiarism

    Borrowing essays from other students to adapt and submit as your own is plagiarism, and will develop none of these necessary skills, holding back your academic development. Students who lend essays for this purpose are doing their peers no favours. Unintentional plagiarism. Not all cases of plagiarism arise from a deliberate intention to cheat.

  11. Types of Plagiarism

    This is the most common type of plagiarism and one of the most difficult to avoid. Keep in mind that translating another's work from a foreign language into English is also a type of paraphrasing plagiarism. Self-Plagiarism. This involves copying all or a large chunk of your own previous original work without citing it as a source in your new ...

  12. 8 Types of Plagiarism (and How to Avoid Them)

    7. Self-plagiarism. This occurs when you reuse your own writing and submit it as something original. This can be something like repurposing your previous work, such as a research paper written in high school for a college assignment or using the same essay twice for two different classes.

  13. Plagiarism in Research explained: The complete Guide

    These aspects help institutions and publishers define plagiarism types more accurately. The agreed-upon forms of plagiarism that occur in research writing include: 1. Global or Complete Plagiarism. Global or Complete plagiarism is inarguably the most severe form of plagiarism — It is as good as stealing.

  14. 8 Most Common Types of Plagiarism with Examples

    Plagiarism is a very serious academic offense, and it comes in many forms. The Most common types of plagiarism are self-plagiarism, mosaic plagiarism, accidental plagiarism, verbatim plagiarism, paraphrasing plagiarism, aggregate plagiarism, complete plagiarism, and source-based plagiarism.. Here are the 8 Most Common Types of Plagiarism with Examples 1.

  15. The 5 Types of Plagiarism

    Plagiarism comes in many forms, some more severe than others—from rephrasing someone's ideas without acknowledgement to stealing a whole essay. These are the five most common types of plagiarism: Global plagiarism means passing off an entire text by someone else as your own work.; Verbatim plagiarism means directly copying someone else's words. ...

  16. What Is Plagiarism? Meaning, Types & Examples

    Plagiarism is the act of presenting someone else's work or ideas as your own without giving them credit. It is considered a serious offense in academic and professional settings, as it violates ethical standards. The consequences of plagiarism can range from failing a course to legal action, depending on the incident's severity.

  17. Types of Plagiarism

    Types of Plagiarism. Most students understand that it's wrong to plagiarize but are confused about what plagiarism really is. The following presentation will provide you with a detailed explanation of seven basic types of plagiarism. Some types of plagiarism may be referred to as "academic misconduct.".

  18. What Is Plagiarism?

    Plagiarism is the practice of taking credit for someone else's words or ideas. It's an act of intellectual dishonesty. In colleges and universities, it violates honor codes and can cause irreparable damage to a person's reputation. It also comes with serious consequences; a plagiarized assignment may lead to a failing grade, a suspension, or an ...

  19. Plagiarism Overview

    Plagiarism is using someone else's ideas or words without giving them proper credit. Plagiarism can range from unintentional (forgetting to include a source in a bibliography) to intentional (buying a paper online, using another writer's ideas as your own to make your work sound smarter). Beginning writers and expert writers alike can all ...

  20. Types of Plagiarism

    Self-plagiarism: means reusing parts of your own previous work like submitting the same paper to a different class or recycling a dataset) without acknowledging this. Global plagiarism: Global plagiarism means submitting an entire work written by someone else. That includes having a friend write your paper for you or buying an essay from an ...

  21. Plagiarism and How to Avoid It

    Definition. Plagiarism is described as a fraud in the sense that people obtain other people's original ideas and cite them as their own inventions without crediting their source. Some students copy other people's work directly from various sources such as books, articles or internet articles and present it as their own original work.

  22. How to Avoid Plagiarism

    To avoid plagiarism, you need to correctly incorporate these sources into your text. You can avoid plagiarism by: Keeping track of the sources you consult in your research. Paraphrasing or quoting from your sources (by using a paraphrasing tool and adding your own ideas) Crediting the original author in an in-text citation and in your reference ...

  23. Plagiarism: Types, Causes and How to Avoid This Worldwide Problem

    psychological, aggressive nature towards success, fear. of discrimination for failure, promotion, fi nancial or job. gains, peer pressure and need to increase one's record. number of ...

  24. Types of Essays in Academic Writing

    Narrative Essay. 4. Argumentative Essay. Expository and persuasive essays mainly deal with facts to explain ideas clearly. Narrative and descriptive essays are informal and have a creative edge. Despite their differences, these essay types share a common goal ― to convey information, insights, and perspectives effectively.

  25. Best Plagiarism Checkers Compared

    In total, we used 140 sources to construct our test documents. Conclusion. Our in-depth research shows that Scribbr's free plagiarism checker is the best plagiarism checker on the market. It is able to detect plagiarism in both exact copies and heavily edited plagiarized texts, and it provides a clear report.