Plagiarism is stealing content without permission and presenting it as one’s own without correct accreditation.1
In academia, industry, and commerce, all types of plagiarism are considered severely unethical. Here’s how to spot and avoid them.2
Definition: Types of plagiarism
Plagiarism isn’t always copying out an entire book word-for-word. Here’s our quick guide.
|Global plagiarism||Copying an existing work whole and attaching a new credit to it.1|
|Direct plagiarism||Copying part of another source into a piece without reference. The copy-and-paste job is still too obvious to count as paraphrasing, however.2|
|Patchwork plagiarism||Carefully "stitching" together stolen content. Due to its close similarity to legitimate referencing, malicious intent can be hard to prove.2|
|Paraphrasing plagiarism||Copying an existing work and changing certain words, phrases, or the order.2|
|Self-plagiarism||Recycling your own work. It's the author's - but it isn't new. The material has already been published elsewhere.2|
Types of plagiarism: Global plagiarism
Global (or complete) plagiarism is the most egregious of the types of plagiarism. Global misrepresents someone else’s work by falsely accrediting it. Global plagiarism from obscure secondary sources is a common, lazy tactic often used to cheat exams.3
All global types of plagiarism are considered top-tier, conscious ethical offences. Discovery may warrant a student or employee’s disqualification, demotion, exclusion, or dismissal. Intellectual property infringement may also trigger legal proceedings.
You can avoid all types of plagiarism by only ever submitting your own work.3
Types of plagiarism: Direct plagiarism
Direct types of plagiarism are slightly more sophisticated. Direct uses “smoke and mirrors” to make copied material seem much more original without paraphrasing.1
Here’s how it works. An article is, again, plagiarized – but this time, the plagiarist doesn’t steal everything and takes the time to swap out certain words. To confuse invigilators, the student also re-orders the paragraphs and inserts a unique conclusion they actually wrote.
You can avoid direct types of plagiarism by submitting work that’s yours in full. Referenced block quotes are, however, legitimate – but always ensure they’re correctly labelled and italicized.3
Types of plagiarism: Patchwork plagiarism
Patchwork (Mosaic) plagiarism is a subtler (and sometimes disputed) member of the types of plagiarism. It may be committed innocently through ignorance.2
It occurs when unreferenced, borrowed ideas or content mix with original work. The author eloquently stitches together sources to form a “unique” argument. Topical ideas already coined elsewhere might also reoccur to a naive author, complicating matters.2
You can avoid these “grey zone” types of plagiarism through careful proofreading, referencing, and exhaustive literature surveys.3
Types of plagiarism: Paraphrasing plagiarism
Paraphrasing is distinct. Instead of changing select elements, the plagiarist completely rewrites other people’s work in their own words.1
While the prose may be completely original, work showing an identical intent, topic, tone, ideas, structure, or meaning still qualifies as stolen.2
It’s all too easy to paraphrase without credit. However, correctly referencing past work (i.e. secondary sources) can prove highly useful. Here’s an example of how to paraphrase the right way.3
Plagiarism? Me, I personally believe all essayists should undergo constant self-review for such sloppy, amateurish types of plagiarism.
Honest (Et Al.) declared in 1969 that ethical writers should always “double-check” their statements for signs of naive types of plagiarism. I would agree.
Types of plagiarism: Self-plagiarism
Self-plagiarism occurs when a creator produces a new piece that’s too derivative of their past work. It often results from creative stagnation, time constraints, or laziness.
Here’s another example. A student rewrites an essay derivative of a successful past piece that received a high grade. While there’s no fault with authorship, the new exam criteria specifically requested original work – so the old essay doesn’t qualify.
There’s a second, less severe tier of self-plagiarism, too. While having a distinct style is good, repeating your “greatest hits” too often can lead to accusations of recycling via paraphrasing.
You can avoid self-plagiarism by examining your older material for similarities and themes and searching for ways to innovate. If appropriate? You can even reference your past pieces.2
Good referencing uses truthful footnotes to direct readers to sources. It avoids fraud by correctly giving credit where credit’s due.1
No. Musical compositions, video material, spoken prose (e.g. jokes, speeches, slogans), and visuals (e.g. art styles) are also at risk.
Yes. Creators that repeat their previously released work too closely risk committing self-plagiarism.2
1 University of Oxford. “Plagiarism.” Accessed March 3, 2023. https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/guidance/skills/plagiarism.
2 Writer. “Prevent any kind of plagiarism before hitting publish.” Accessed March 3, 2023. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/nevertheless.
3 Calonia, Jennifer. “How To Avoid Plagiarism.” Grammarly Blog. Accessed March 3, 2023. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/5-most-effective-methods-for-avoiding-plagiarism/.