Caleb S.
Caleb S.

Different Types of Plagiarism and How to Avoid Them

8 min read

Published on: Jul 25, 2022

Last updated on: Jan 31, 2024

types of plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious offense that can have significant consequences in a student’s academic and professional life. 

Simply put, it is the act of using someone else's work or ideas without giving proper credit or permission. However, there are actually several different types of plagiarism, and it’s important to avoid each of them.

In this blog, we will explore the common types of plagiarism and how to avoid them. Continue to learn more.

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Complete Plagiarism 

Also known as “Verbatim plagiarism” or “Total plagiarism.” It involves taking someone else's work and submitting it as your own. That is, using the original source word for word and claiming it as your own.

This type of plagiarism is the most obvious and easiest to catch. The consequences of complete plagiarism are very serious. You could lose your professional and academic, and can even face legal action.

How to Avoid Complete Plagiarism 

Avoiding plagiarism of this type is simple: Just don’t use another’s work as your own!

You should analyze sources, take notes, and synthesize information to use it to write an original paper with original ideas. Writing a paper in an academically sound way is the best way to avoid this type of plagiarism.

Direct Plagiarism 

Direct plagiarism is the act of copying specific sentences, sections, or paragraphs from someone else's work. It is just a partial or incomplete form of verbatim plagiarism.

Similar to complete plagiarism, it is also very easy to detect. Moreover, anyone engaging in direct plagiarism can face consequences as serious as that complete plagiarism.

How to Avoid Direct Plagiarism 

Just like complete plagiarism, the best way to avoid it is to don’t do it! Direct plagiarism does not occur accidentally but is always intentional.

Moreover, you should use the following tips:

  • Paraphrase instead of copying:

Instead of directly copying a passage or sentence, you should paraphrase it into your own words. Use your own words and sentence structure while still accurately conveying the information from the source. 

  • Always cite the source:

Citing your source is the basic etiquette for all academic writing. When using someone else’s work in your writing, cite it properly and accurately.

  • Use quotation marks:

When directly copying a passage from a source, always use quotation marks to indicate that they are copied verbatim. 

Paraphrasing Plagiarism 

Paraphrasing is a common practice in writing. It means to use your own words to express someone else’s ideas. However, paraphrasing can also be a form of plagiarism when it is done improperly. 

Paraphrasing plagiarism occurs when an author rephrases a passage too closely to the original without giving due credit. 

Paraphrasing plagiarism occurs when you:

  • Change a few words or phrases in a sentence but keep the overall sentence structure and meaning intact.
  • Reorder sentences within a paragraph but retain the same ideas and concepts.
  • Use synonyms to replace keywords or phrases from the original text without adding any new ideas or insights.

How to Avoid Paraphrasing Plagiarism 

Paraphrasing plagiarism can be easily avoided with some simple strategies. Here are some useful tips:

  • Understand How Paraphrasing Works: 

Paraphrasing involves restating information in one's own words. However, simply changing a few words or sentence structure is not enough. You should demonstrate an understanding of that idea or information and show how it contributes to your arguments.

  • Cite the Original Source: 

When you paraphrase someone’s work to use it in your writing, you must provide an accurate citation. Even if it’s in your words, you should give credit for the idea to the original author. 

  • Use Direct Quotes Where Paraphrasing is Tricky:

Scholarly works are often complex, and it is not always possible to paraphrase an idea without the chance of plagiarism. In that case, you should use direct quotes and proper attribution. 

However, make sure to use quotes only when necessary. For instance, direct quotes are often needed in literature papers when referencing a piece of creative work. 

Watch this video to learn how to paraphrase efficiently and avoid paraphrasing plagiarism:

Mosaic Plagiarism 

Also called “Patchwork plagiarism,” it involves taking ideas and phrases from multiple sources and piecing them together. It occurs when an author tries to disguise their plagiarism by rearranging and slightly altering text from multiple sources.

Examples of mosaic plagiarism include the following:

  • Copying and pasting several sentences from different sources into a paragraph without citation or proper attribution.
  • Changing a few words in a sentence from a source and combining it with a sentence from another source to create a new sentence.

Although mosaic plagiarism can be difficult to detect, it can still get caught by advanced plagiarism checkers.

How to Avoid Mosaic Plagiarism 

Mosaic plagiarism is usually intentional and occurs when trying to hide an instance of direct plagiarism. So, the best way to avoid it is to NOT DO IT!

Additionally, these tips can help:

  • Don’t mix and match sources: 

While writing a paper, refer to one source at a time. Use clear language and signposting to indicate which source you have used in which context.

  • Paraphrase carefully: 

When paraphrasing information from a source, be sure to do so carefully and in your own words. It is important to cite the source properly and not use too much language or phrasing from the original source.

  • Develop Original Ideas:

Finally, the most important bit is to keep your ideas and writing style original. Don’t do patchwork writing in any case.

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Self-plagiarism is the act of reusing your own previously published or submitted work without proper citation. 

The following acts are examples of self-plagiarism:

  • Submitting the same paper to multiple classes or assignments.
  • Reusing a section of your previously published research paper in a new paper without citation.
  • Republishing an article or book chapter in a new publication without proper acknowledgment.

How to Avoid Self-Plagiarism 

Here are some tips to help you avoid self-plagiarism:

  • Use proper citation methods: 

When integrating work from previous publications into a new original work, be sure to use proper citation methods. This includes clearly indicating that it has been previously published.

  • Seek permission when necessary: 

If you wish to reuse work from a previous publication, it is important to seek permission from the publisher. Some publishers may require that you make changes to the work before it can be reused.

  • Rewrite and rephrase: 

Rather than reusing language from a previous publication, try to rephrase information in a new way. This will help to ensure that the work is original and does not raise concerns of self-plagiarism.

Accidental Plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism occurs when a writer unintentionally includes someone else's work in their own without properly referencing it. This can happen due to: 

  • A lack of understanding of proper citation methods.
  • A failure to keep track of sources used.
  • An oversight when editing and revising a piece of work.

How to Avoid Accidental Plagiarism 

Accidental plagiarism mostly occurs due to oversight. Here’s what you can do to ensure that it doesn’t occur in your paper:

  • Maintain notes while researching:

When conducting research, be sure to take detailed notes and record the sources of any information that you gather. This will help you remember where you get your ideas and information from.

  • Proofread carefully:

Read and check your paper carefully for any ideas that may not be yours but are not referenced. If you find any piece of information or idea like that, go back to the sources and insert a citation.

  • Learn citation rules:

Accidental plagiarism also occurs due to not knowing how to cite a source properly.  You could seek help from a teacher or librarian to help you with referencing.

Source Plagiarism 

Source plagiarism occurs when a student cites wrong or misleading sources for a piece of information in their paper. 

This can happen intentionally or unintentionally, but it should be avoided at all costs. The following actions are considered source plagiarism:

For instance, acts of source plagiarism include:

  • Referencing a secondary source in a work, but only crediting the primary source from which that secondary source is derived.
  • Citing an incorrect source or misrepresenting a source to fit the author's argument.
  • Making up sources or attributing false information to a source to support the author's argument.

How to Avoid Source Plagiarism

You can avoid source-based plagiarism by following the tips below:

  • Verify sources: 

When conducting research, be sure to verify the accuracy and credibility of your sources. This will help you to avoid citing unreliable or incorrect sources.

  • Use clear and accurate language: 

When citing sources, be sure to be clear and precise in your language. Use direct quotations sparingly and accurately, and provide context for any paraphrased information.

  • Avoid misrepresentation: 

When citing sources, be sure to accurately represent the information presented in the source. Don’t take information out of context or distort the original message of the source.

Summing up,

Plagiarism is a serious offense that can lead to severe consequences, including academic penalties, legal action, and damage to one's reputation. All kinds of plagiarism must be avoided to preserve academic honesty. 

By following our tips to avoid different types of plagiarism, you can ensure that your work reflects your own hard work.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What punishments can someone get for plagiarism?

The consequences of plagiarism vary depending on the context. In academic settings, punishments can range from receiving a failing grade to being expelled from the institution. In professional or legal contexts, plagiarism can lead to damaged reputation, legal repercussions, and even lawsuits.

How can plagiarism be detected?

Plagiarism can be detected through several ways. Most commonly, plagiarism detection software, such as Turnitin, is used to compare students' work against a vast database of published materials. Additionally, manual checks, expertise in the field, and suspicious language or writing style can also help identify potential instances of plagiarism.

Can unintentional plagiarism still have consequences?

Yes, unintentional plagiarism can still have consequences. While it may not be viewed as severe as intentional plagiarism, it is important to take responsibility for one's actions. Institutions can impose penalties for unintentional plagiarism to emphasize the importance of adhering to originality and proper citation guidelines.

Caleb S.


Caleb S. (Literature, Marketing)

Caleb S. has extensive experience in writing and holds a Masters from Oxford University. He takes great satisfaction in helping students exceed their academic goals. Caleb always puts the needs of his clients first and is dedicated to providing quality service.

Caleb S. has extensive experience in writing and holds a Masters from Oxford University. He takes great satisfaction in helping students exceed their academic goals. Caleb always puts the needs of his clients first and is dedicated to providing quality service.

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