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Plagiarism

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5 Common Types of Plagiarism

Date published by Lorenza Shabe. Date updated: September 24, 2018

There are many types of plagiarism . However, the most common types are:

  • Direct plagiarism
  • Paying for someone else’s work
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Paraphrasing without a source
  • Patchwork plagiarism

What all types of plagiarism have in common

All types of plagiarism have one central thing in common: The act of taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own. There are a vast variety of ways that you can do this, but every way is dishonest and ethically wrong.

If you want to know more, be sure to refresh your memory of what plagiarism is.

Table of contents

  1. Direct plagiarism
  2. Paying for someone else’s work 
  3. Self-plagiarism
  4. Paraphrasing without a source
  5. Patchwork plagiarism
  6. Checking for Plagiarism

1. Direct plagiarism

Direct plagiarism is the most obvious form of plagiarism. This means taking someone else’s ideas or work and claiming them as your own, without citation . Even if you delete or change a couple words here and there, it is direct plagiarism if the majority of the structure and words are the same.

Direct plagiarism is one of the worst types of plagiarism. It often results in expulsion and, if it also violates copyright, possible criminal charges.

Example of direct plagiarism

Original (Operario, 2008)Student A
“Whereas some men mentioned keeping their sexuality concealed from friendship acquaintances or work colleagues, all participants consistently acknowledged experiences of stigma against homosexuality within traditional Asian Pacific Islander cultures and most adapted their self-expression to fit those parameters. As such, compartmentalization of homosexual identity in the family context was common. However, respondents did not view compartmentalizing their sexual identity from their ethnic identity to be ‘closeting’ themselves. They viewed the action as protecting family members from having to confront the taboo subject of sexuality.”Some men mentioned keeping their sexuality concealed from friendship acquaintances or work colleagues, but all participants consistently acknowledged experiences of stigma against homosexuality within traditional Asian Pacific Islander cultures. Most adapted their self-expression to fit those parameters. As such, compartmentalization of homosexual identity in the family context was common. However, respondents did not view compartmentalizing their sexual identity from their ethnic identity to be ‘closeting’ themselves. They viewed the action as protecting family members from having to confront the taboo subject of sexuality.

2. Paying for someone else’s work 

This one is self-explanatory. If you pay someone to write an essay for you, it is plagiarism. The words submitted are not yours and are therefore plagiarized. This also includes having a friend or family member write your essay for you and handing it in with your name on it.

3. Self-plagiarism

Self-plagiarism can be tricky and is frequently unintentional. There are a couple of different versions of self-plagiarism; the more serious being turning in a paper you already submitted for a grade to another class. Because you have turned this paper in already, it is no longer new and original work.

Self-plagiarism can also occur when you use ideas or phrases from your previous papers or assignments. Like with paraphrasing , using pieces of essays you have already completed is not inherently plagiarism. As long as you consult your professors to check whether doing so falls within your institution’s policies, citing previous papers you have written is not considered self-plagiarism.

For more information about the ethics of self-plagiarism, read our article on self-plagiarism .

4. Paraphrasing without a source

Paraphrasing itself is not plagiarism so long as you properly cite your sources. However, paraphrasing becomes plagiarism when you read different sources, pull out some key points and then rewrite these points as if they were your own ideas.

If you do not cite your sources for all the non-original ideas referenced in your paper, then you are committing plagiarism.

Accidental plagiarism is frequently caused by paraphrasing without a source. It’s simple and easy to avoid. Just remember to properly cite your source .

Example of paraphrasing

  • Incorrect
  • Correct
Original (Operario, 2008)Incorrect (no citation)
“Whereas some men mentioned keeping their sexuality concealed from friendship acquaintances or work colleagues, all participants consistently acknowledged experiences of stigma against homosexuality within traditional Asian Pacific Islander cultures and most adapted their self-expression to fit those parameters. As such, compartmentalization of homosexual identity in the family context was common. However, respondents did not view compartmentalizing their sexual identity from their ethnic identity to be ‘closeting’ themselves. They viewed the action as protecting family members from having to confront the taboo subject of sexuality.”Some men said they concealed their sexuality from acquaintances or colleagues, but all the participants acknowledged experiencing some sort of stigma against homosexuality in their traditional cultures. Most said they adapted their self-expression to fit those parameters. So they compartmentalized their homosexual identity when around family. However, many participants did not view this as ‘closeting’ themselves; rather, they viewed it as a way of protecting family members from having to dealing with taboo subjects.
Original (Operario, 2008)Correct
“Whereas some men mentioned keeping their sexuality concealed from friendship acquaintances or work colleagues, all participants consistently acknowledged experiences of stigma against homosexuality within traditional Asian Pacific Islander cultures and most adapted their self-expression to fit those parameters. As such, compartmentalization of homosexual identity in the family context was common. However, respondents did not view compartmentalizing their sexual identity from their ethnic identity to be ‘closeting’ themselves. They viewed the action as protecting family members from having to confront the taboo subject of sexuality.”Some men said they concealed their sexuality from acquaintances or colleagues, but all the participants acknowledged experiencing some sort of stigma against homosexuality in their traditional cultures. Most said they “adapted their self-expression to fit those parameters.” (Operario, 2008) So they compartmentalized their homosexual identity when around family (Operario, 2008). However, many participants did not view this as ‘closeting’ themselves; rather, they viewed it as a way of “protecting family members from having to dealing with taboo subjects.” (Operario, 2008)

5. Patchwork plagiarism

(Also known as mosaic plagiarism)

Patchwork or mosaic plagiarism is similar to paraphrasing. It is when you copy and paste different texts, adding them together to create a new text. This sometimes includes rewording pieces of sourced material while keeping the structure of the original texts.

This type of plagiarism requires a little more effort and is more insidious than simply paraphrasing a source, but plagiarism checkers can easily detect this kind of plagiarism.

Example of copy-and-paste plagiarism

OriginalStudent B
“Whereas some men mentioned keeping their sexuality concealed from friendship acquaintances or work colleagues, all participants consistently acknowledged experiences of stigma against homosexuality within traditional Asian Pacific Islander cultures and most adapted their self-expression to fit those parameters. As such, compartmentalization of homosexual identity in the family context was common. However, respondents did not view compartmentalizing their sexual identity from their ethnic identity to be ‘closeting’ themselves. They viewed the action as protecting family members from having to confront the taboo subject of sexuality.” (Operario, 2008)“The second theme, unspoken issues with sexual orientation, was also pervasive throughout male and female focus groups. The majority of participants shared that they did not have the luxury of openly communicating about their sexual identity with their parents. There seemed to be a cultural nuance of silence among Filipinos; they do not create conflict among the family by talking about one’s sexual orientation and the experiences that coincide (i.e., dating or reactions to discrimination).” (Min Zhou & Ocampo, 2016)Some men said they concealed their sexuality from acquaintances or colleagues, but all the participants acknowledged that spoken and unspoken issues with sexual orientation were pervasive in their traditional cultures. In response to this stigma, they adapted their self-expression to fit the situation they were in. As such, compartmentalization of homosexual identity in the family context was common. This was probably due to the fact that they did not have the luxury of openly communicating about their sexual identity with their parents. However, respondents did not view compartmentalizing their sexual identity from their ethnic identity to be “closeting” themselves. They viewed the action as protecting family members from having to confront the taboo subject of sexuality.

Checking for Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious academic offense and the consequences of plagiarism are not to be underestimated.

Most universities use plagiarism checkers that check for these issues. If your paper is found to have been plagiarized, it’s likely that you will receive a zero on the work as well as disciplinary action. But as long as you keep these common five types of plagiarism in mind, you will be able to avoid plagiarism .

Always check your university’s academic code of conduct if you’re unsure whether or not you’re plagiarizing. Or you could also use a plagiarism checker.

However, be aware of which plagiarism checker you use. Some find more plagiarism than others and not all of them are safe to use.

To help you make the right choice, we compared to best plagiarism checkers for students and also offer our own  Scribbr Plagiarism Checker , which is safe and used by thousands of students.  

Check your paper for plagiarism

 

Sources used in the examples:
  • Operario, D., Han, C., & Choi, K. (2008). Dual Identity among Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 10(5), 447-461. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20461026
  • Min Zhou, & Ocampo, A. (Eds.). (2016). Contemporary Asian America (third edition): A Multidisciplinary Reader. NYU Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt18040wj
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Lorenza is an academic writing expert. She has a Master’s in English Literature and Creative Writing and a background in Political Science. She works tirelessly on improving Scribbr’s Knowledge Base  content.

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Consequences of plagiarism

If you’re caught plagiarizing you will probably fail the course or worse you could be subject to disciplinary action or be suspended.

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What is self-plagiarism and how to avoid it?

Self-plagiarism is the act of either presenting a previously submitted work or large chunks of a previously submitted work as completely brand new.

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How to avoid plagiarism | 5 easy steps

To share the ideas of others, you can quote, paraphrase or summarize the source. Here are five easy steps to avoid plagiarism in your document.

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October 1, 2018 at 4:49 AM

A smart crispy document

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Well detailed

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How to Check an Essay for Plagiarism

Three Parts: Looking for Warning Signs in the Style and Grammar Checking for Other Signs of Plagiarism Confirming Plagiarism Community Q&A

Plagiarism is the act of copying someone’s work or ideas and claiming them as your own. It can even be copying your own written ideas. Essay plagiarism can be as simple as copying a paragraph from another source without citation, but it can also be as severe as copying entire pages from another written source, such as an essay, book, post, or article. To check for plagiarism, you need to know the common mistakes of plagiarists, as well as ways to confirm your suspicions.

Steps

Part 1

Looking for Warning Signs in the Style and Grammar

  1. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 1

    1
    Compare the current essay to the student’s normal style. If the style is noticeably different, it may be that the student plagiarized the most recent essay. For example, is the work considerably longer or does it employ more in-depth analysis than you’d expect from this person? This doesn’t mean plagiarism per se, but definitely keep your eyes open for other signs of plagiarism. [1]

    • For instance, does this person usually make typos, but all of a sudden provides a perfectly clean essay? Does this person usually have incoherent or poorly formed concepts, then suddenly presents well-formulated statements?
    • Pull out the student’s portfolio of work from your class as a point of comparison. If you are suspicious, it maybe helpful to request copies of the student’s work from fellow teachers, too.
  2. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 2

    2
    Watch for changes in phrasing. If one sentence is simple and clunky and the next is verbose with complicated connections, it’s likely those sentences came from two different sources. Watch for these changes throughout the paper, as many times students will interweave other sources into their own writing. [2]

    • You may also note that points of view shift or that the student abruptly ends thoughts by switching to another topic.
    • Also, look for a weak start and end with an amazing middle, or some other mix of weak and strong areas. While this mixture can be a sign of a student struggling to shape an essay logically, it can also be a sign of plagiarism if a student has cut and pasted from various sources.
  3. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 3

    3
    Pay attention to shifts in spelling. When a paper is plagiarized, certain words may have different spellings. For instance, the essay may shift from British to American spellings or vice versa. Sometimes, a character’s name in a novel varies slightly according to the version of the text. If words shift throughout, that could be a sign of plagiarism.

    • However, inconsistent spelling can also be the work of a poor writer.
  4. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 4

    4
    Notice if the person stays on topic. Of course, students may veer off topic in an essay just because they are not great writers yet. However, if the essay veers off so much that it’s not even covering the main points, it may be that the student chose poorly when picking a source to plagiarize from. [3]
  5. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 5

    5
    Check for bizarre phrasing. It’s not always easy to find a good plagiarized paper. If the student doesn’t read it well, they may not notice it is written poorly. Often, the odd phrasing is due to bad translations, as some papers may come from other languages. [4]
  6. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 6

    6
    Follow up on ideas that are too sophisticated. If you notice some concepts are way above the class level you’re teaching, you may want to follow up on it. Of course, some students will be way above the current level, but it could also mean the student copied from another source. [5]

    • For example, if you are teaching intro composition and the student is doing graduate-level work, you might want to check their essay more closely.
  7. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 7

    7
    Pay attention to similar phrases across all your papers. One way to catch plagiarism is to look for similar phrases across different papers. Often, students who plagiarize will do so from the same websites, so the same words and phrases will show up in their essays. [6]

    • For instance, you may find that when discussing a book like Frankenstein, a particular phrase such as “represents the monster within each of us,” shows up across many papers.

Part 2

Checking for Other Signs of Plagiarism

  1. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 8

    1
    Look for multiple citation styles. If the student uses more than one type of citation style, it may be that the student plagiarized part of it. Similarly, if you requested the paper be in one style (such as MLA), and the paper is another style (APA), it may be that the student plagiarized the paper. [7]

    • Also, check if the citation even exists. In some cases, students make up the citations altogether, or claim that a chapter essay in a book exists when it doesn’t. Perhaps you have access to the book in question and can check. Check Google Books, or look online for article citations.
  2. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 9

    2
    Check for old details. Sometimes, a plagiarized paper will have details that are not current. For instance, if the paper references a “recent” event that happened years ago, that could mean it was plagiarized. Similarly, if the essay references someone in a particular position that they have since left, that could be a sign, as well. [8]

    • Also check for old resources, which may indicate the paper is older.
  3. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 10

    3
    Watch for font changes. If the student is copying and pasting into a document, they may not go back and make sure the font is the same throughout. If the font changes size or style, that may be an indicator of plagiarism. [9]
  4. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 11

    4
    Notice other format changes. The font style isn’t the only thing that may change throughout the paper. You may notice that curly quotation marks turn to straight ones and vice versa, for instance. Similarly, the heading style may not be the same throughout. [10]

Part 3

Confirming Plagiarism

  1. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 12

    1
    Use a search engine. If you suspect a sentence or phrase has been plagiarized, you can simply stick that phrase in a search engine, such as Google or Bing. Try putting quotation marks around it to search for that exact phrase, though sometimes that will turn up no results (if the student changed part of the phrase). [11]

    • If the text has been copied either verbatim or fairly closely, it’s likely that the search engine will return some exact matches. Any online source that has the same text should appear on the first page of results.
  2. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 13

    2
    Plug the paper into a plagiarism checker. Many schools offer plagiarism software to their teachers. However, many checkers are also available for free online. You simply copy and paste the text in, and the program searches for plagiarized parts by checking it against other text on the internet. While these methods aren’t foolproof, they can help you determine where the student got the paper. [12]

    • Turnitin is one widely used site for plagiarism checking. You can also try Plagiarisma or Copyleaks.
  3. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 14

    3
    Confront the student if you suspect plagiarism. Once you’re fairly certain the student has plagiarized, save the evidence. Then, follow up with the student. Discuss with them the evidence you’ve found, and use the time to see if the student will confess to plagiarism. [13]

    • If you’re not 100 percent sure the student plagiarized, you can also use the meeting to determine if the student actually knows the material or not. [14] However, some introverted students may freeze up under these circumstances, whether they wrote the material or not.
  4. Image titled Check an Essay for Plagiarism Step 15

    4
    Determine the consequence if the student plagiarized. As far as consequences go, how you proceed is determined by your school’s policy, but it’s helpful to have the incident in writing. Discuss the consequences with the student. After you’ve met with the student, write an email to the student noting what happened and the action you took. [15]

    • For younger students, contact the student’s parents and follow up with any relevant administrators who need to be aware of the incident. Talking to older students directly is acceptable, and there will typically be repercussions at the school’s honor council.

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      Tips

      • Hold a class about plagiarism early in the semester. Show students what an essay mill site looks like and how you can spot an essay from such a site in the twinkle of an eye.
      • Show students how to avoid plagiarism. Don’t just scare them off, as for some students, scare tactics can often result in defiance or a need to get one over on you. Give them the tools and pathways to write and research better.

      Warnings

      • It will be harder to spot a person who pays someone to write an original essay or do an exam for them. Check to see whether your institution has checks in place to ensure that the right person turns up to sit exams and use your expectations of the student or class level to guide your own instincts about the work you’re reading.

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      Sources and Citations

      1. http://cmsw.mit.edu/writing-and-communication-center/resources/teachers/detect-plagiarism/
      2. http://cmsw.mit.edu/writing-and-communication-center/resources/teachers/detect-plagiarism/
      3. http://tlt.psu.edu/plagiarism/instructor-guide/detecting-plagiarism/
      4. http://tlt.psu.edu/plagiarism/instructor-guide/detecting-plagiarism/
      5. http://cmsw.mit.edu/writing-and-communication-center/resources/teachers/detect-plagiarism/
      6. https://www.library.kent.edu/files/Library_Live_II_Ways_to_detect_Plagiarism.pdf
      7. http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/libraries/collection-development-resources/plagiarism-detection-prevention-a-guide-for-faculty/
      8. http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/libraries/collection-development-resources/plagiarism-detection-prevention-a-guide-for-faculty/
      9. http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/libraries/collection-development-resources/plagiarism-detection-prevention-a-guide-for-faculty/
      10. http://tlt.psu.edu/plagiarism/instructor-guide/detecting-plagiarism/
      11. https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/instructionalstrategies/writing/detectaddressplagiarism.html
      12. http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/libraries/collection-development-resources/plagiarism-detection-prevention-a-guide-for-faculty/
      13. https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/instructionalstrategies/writing/detectaddressplagiarism.html
      14. http://cmsw.mit.edu/writing-and-communication-center/resources/teachers/detect-plagiarism/
      15. https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/instructionalstrategies/writing/detectaddressplagiarism.html

      Show more… (12)

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