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What is Plagiarism

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January 1, 2021
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January 1, 2021



There are undoubtedly tons of recurring articles on similar topics floating on the internet. Each item you read on the net gives prominent information about the subject. However, it is not difficult for your intuition to give in to the striking similarity between the two articles on the same genre. The stealing of any work and presenting it as yours is called Plagiarism. Not only the audience but researchers and scholars as well are a victim of plagiarism. 

This necessitates an urgent awareness of the misuse of copyrighted content and to prevent plagiarization in any domain.

In this article, you will learn about plagiarism and how to prevent it. Read on to know more!

What is Plagiarism?

In Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries terms, to plagiarize is “to copy another person’s ideas, words or work and pretend that they are your own”. Plagiarism is more than copying and pasting someone else’s content. It is unauthorized use of someone’s idea, hard work, research, knowledge, and intellectual right.

Plagiarism, however, can be avoided by quoting citations of the source. It imparts borrowing and passes on the requisite information to the audience to find the source. This also ensures the protection of trademarks and intellectual rights of the concerned person.

Most Common Types of Plagiarism Observed

a) Copy-Paste

The direct word-to-word copy of textual material from the source is called direct plagiarism. It is the most stringent type wherein the person copies the content and submits another person’s work as its own, without attribution/citation to the latter’s work. This intellectual theft is strictly forbidden in academics resulting in annulation and disregard of the work.

b) Paraphrasing

Rewriting an article’s ideas in your words is called paraphrasing. Paraphrasing or alternate writing technique without giving due credit to the original curator is considered plagiarism. However, if you read and absorb the absolute essence of the article and then paraphrase it in your own words, your work will not be called plagiarized. Some paraphrasing tools like Spin Writer and CleverSpinner are also used that generate well-defined, non-plagiarized, and unique content.

c) Self-Plagiarism

Often assumed as “recycling of thoughts”, self-plagiarizing is an actual practice. If you reuse or rewrite your previous published or unpublished article with only a difference in language and tone, it is considered self-plagiarism. It seems illegitimate but it’s not. Rebuilding a work as brand new destroys the authenticity of the article. The best way to avoid this is to cite the original work in the new one instead of plagiarizing it.

d) Mosaic Plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism is second to paraphrasing as the most perpetrated type of plagiarism. It occurs when the person uses a part of the source (continued phrases, exact lines, synonyms of the author’s language) without implementing a quotation mark, or adding a footnote of the same. Whether it’s a lack of intent or not, it is considered a punishable offense.

e) Unintentional Plagiarism

If you ‘forgot’ to provide credits or cite or even paraphrased some words/cluster of words of the source, you are committing “unintentional or accidental plagiarism”. Failure to acknowledge and insertion of citations at the end of any article, even though you genuinely want to credit the original author, does not make plagiarized material any less severe. The writer must be vigilant and avoid this.

f) Image Plagiarism

The use of an image or part of an image, lacking relevant citation to the source is called image plagiarism. Access to copyrighted images is dependent on the owner of the intellectual property. Therefore, if any image is utilized without proper authorization, it can land the person in trouble for plagiarization.

Repercussions of Plagiarism

Even though it is enumerated nowhere in the legal documents or any rulebook or fundamental duties, plagiarisation is a violation of moral compass. On the academic front, students are strictly instructed to maintain the authenticity of the project/research submitted. Disobedience or misconduct of this can lead to lowered grades, failed projects, or even suspension and absolute disregard of their work. Moreover, it shows dishonesty, faltered integrity & moral values, and irresponsibility on the student’s part.

Plagiarization of an author or researcher’s work without precise citation is a serious offense. 

Self-plagiarisation is an equally offensive act. Even if the idea came from the same individual, the citation of each work should be traced back. It’s not an issue for the writer, however, readers are obliged to know the exact location of the source.

What is a Citation?

Citation is the method of recognizing and indicating that the researcher has obtained/derived some idea, statement, or quotation from a source of information. In other words, it provides references to the source.

Citations are done to credit the author, identify and locate different data with similar context, and provide insights. Citations are essential to uphold honesty and prevent plagiarism.

What Type of Content Needs Citations?

A) Universal Facts

Presenting facts from a source where it was initially identified requires citation. However, if the content is a universal truth, is known by most of the population, can be easily transcribed, and available on more than 10 sites; it does not need citation.

B) A Direct Quote 

Directly quoting a statement or part of the statement from the source requires citing. It can be procedures, opinions, interpretations, judgments, scientific facts, etc. These citations can be MLA or APA format, whichever is applicable. 

C) Paraphrase from Source

Research papers contain an abstract, findings, and conclusion. Paraphrasing findings, numerical values, results, experiments unique to the research, summary, conclusion, or any content copyrighted by the author needs a proper citation.

As for technical and biological sciences articles, paraphrasing discrete protocols, tools/instruments, or proposed theories needs to be quoted and deserves its place in the reference and citation section.

How to Cite a Source?

To cite an article, a person can apply one of the two most used formats: MLA and APA.

MLA style Developed by the Modern Language Association, it’s usually used to quote language and literary papers. It uses parenthetical citations consisting of the author’s name, numbers, and publication date in the following arrangement: Author’s Last name, First name.

APA style Developed by American Psychological Associations, it’s usually used to quote psychology and social science papers. It uses the author-date (year) type of parenthesis citation in the following order: Author’s last name (date, year of publication), “Title of source.”, publisher.

Top 5 Online Plagiarism Checkers

1) Turnitin

2) Grammarly

3) Scribbr

4) Ephorus

5) PlagScan


Plagiarism may seem harmless to a social audience but has deep meaning for academicians whose intellectual rights are threatened by this. Stealing others’ labor is unacceptable. It leads to the dissolution of one’s moral values and sincerity. No matter in what way the information is re-created, plagiarism should be penalized. There is no limit to a person’s imagination. Thus, proper awareness on how to conduct research, generate original work, and if (& when) required – how to cite and reference sources, is the need of the hour.

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