Types of plagiarism


Plagiarism, often viewed as an ethical violation in both academic and professional spheres, can manifest in various forms, each with its own set of implications. This guide seeks to clarify these types of plagiarism, offering a clearer understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and how it varies in its occurrence. From the less obvious cases of paraphrasing without proper citation to the more clear-cut acts of copying entire works, we explore the spectrum of plagiarism. Recognizing and understanding these types will help in avoiding common traps and keeping the integrity of your work, whether in academia, research, or any form of content creation.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism refers to the act of presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, without proper acknowledgment. This unethical practice includes not only directly copying another’s work without permission but also repurposing your own previously submitted work in new assignments. There are several different types of plagiarism, each significant in its own right. Here we explore these types:

  • Direct plagiarism. This involves verbatim copying of another’s work without citation.
  • Self-plagiarism. Happens when a person reuses their past work and presents it as a new material without giving credit to the original.
  • Mosaic plagiarism. This type involves integrating ideas or text from different sources into new work without proper declaration.
  • Accidental plagiarism. This happens when a person fails to cite sources or improperly paraphrases because they are careless or lack awareness.

It’s important to recognize that plagiarism is similar to intellectual theft. Academic and creative works are often the result of extensive research and innovation, investing them with significant value. Misappropriating these works not only violates ethical standards but can also lead to serious academic and legal repercussions.


The types of plagiarism

Understanding the different types of plagiarism is crucial in academic and professional writing. It’s not just about copying text word-for-word; plagiarism can take many forms, some more nuanced than others. This section delves into various types of plagiarism, from paraphrasing without proper citation to directly quoting without acknowledging the source. Each type is illustrated with examples to clarify what includes plagiarism and how to avoid it. Whether it’s slightly changing someone else’s ideas or clearly copying whole sections, knowing these types will help you keep your work honest and avoid major ethical mistakes. Let’s look at types of plagiarism closely.

Paraphrasing without citation

Paraphrasing without citation is one of the most common types of plagiarism. Many mistakenly think they can use another’s work as their own by simply changing the words in a sentence.

For example:

Source text: “Gabriel’s impressive resume includes abolishing ISIS in Iraq, restoring global cheetah populations, and eliminating the national debt.”

  • Student submission (incorrect): Gabriel has eliminated the national debt and destroyed ISIS in Iraq.
  • Student submission (correct): Gabriel has eliminated the national debt and destroyed ISIS in Iraq (Berkland 37).

Notice how the correct example paraphrases the source and adds the source in stands at the end of the sentence. This is essential because even when you put the idea in your own words, the original idea still belongs to the source author. The citation gives them proper credit and avoids plagiarism.

Direct quotes without citation

Direct quote plagiarism is also one of the most common types of plagiarism and is easily identified by a plagiarism check.

For example:

Source text: Alexandra’s State of the Union address Thursday encouraged Russia and the United States to resume international peace negotiations.

  • Student submission (incorrect): Russian and United States relations are improving. Alexandra’s State of the Union address Thursday encouraged Russia and the United States to resume successful international peace negotiations.
  • Student submission (correct): The White House’s press release stated that “Alexandra’s State of the Union address Thursday encouraged Russia and the United States to resume international peace negotiations”, which have been successful (State of the Union).

Notice how in the correct submission, the source of the direct quote is introduced, the quoted section is enclosed in quotation marks, and the source is cited at the end. This is important because directly quoting someone’s words without giving them credit is plagiarism. Using quotation marks and citing the source shows where the original words came from and gives credit to the original author, thus avoiding plagiarism.

Exact copy of somebody else’s work

This type of plagiarism involves copying someone else’s work entirely, without any changes. While it’s less common, a complete copy of another’s work does happen. Plagiarism detection tools are particularly effective in identifying such instances, as they compare submitted content against a vast array of sources on the web and other submissions.

Copying another’s work in its entirety is a serious form of plagiarism and is equal to outright theft. It is considered one of the most serious academic and intellectual offenses and can lead to severe consequences, including legal action. Such acts often face the toughest penalties, from academic discipline to legal consequences under copyright laws.

Turning in old work for a new project

School and work assignments are designed to be creative processes, encouraging the production of new content rather than the resubmission of previously created work. Submitting work you have previously created for a new assignment is considered self-plagiarism. This is because each assignment is expected to be original and unique to its specific requirements. However, it’s acceptable to use or expand on your own previous research or writing, as long as you cite it properly, just as you would with any other source. This correct citation shows where the work originally came from and makes clear how your previous work is used in the new project.


Plagiarism carries serious consequences

Plagiarizing content is similar to stealing. Many academic papers and creative works involve extensive research and creativity, giving them significant value. Using this work as your own is a serious offense. Despite the types of plagiarism, the consequences are often severe. Here’s how different sectors handle plagiarism:

  • Academic penalties. Universities and colleges in the United States set strict penalties for plagiarism. These can include failing the course, suspension, or even expulsion, regardless of the plagiarism type. This can affect a student’s future education and career opportunities.
  • Professional repercussions. Employers may fire employees who plagiarize, often without prior warning. This can damage an individual’s professional reputation and future employment prospects.
  • Legal actions. The original creators of the plagiarized content can take legal action against the plagiarizer. This can lead to lawsuits and, in severe cases, jail time.
  • Business consequences. Companies caught publishing plagiarized content can face criticism from others, possible legal action, and harm to their reputation.

To avoid these outcomes, individuals and businesses must check their work for plagiarism and ensure keeping with legal and ethical standards. Proactive measures and an understanding of the different types of plagiarism can prevent these severe consequences.


Understanding the different types of plagiarism is not just an academic necessity but a professional life. From subtle paraphrasing without citation to more obvious acts like copying entire works or submitting old work as new, each form of plagiarism carries significant ethical implications and potential consequences. This guide has navigated through these varied types of plagiarism, offering insights into their identification and avoidance. Remember, keeping your work honest depends on your ability to spot and avoid these mistakes. Whether you’re in academia, research, or any creative field, a deep understanding of these types of plagiarism is key to supporting ethical standards and protecting your professional credibility. By staying watchful and informed, you can contribute to a culture of honesty and originality in all forms of academic expression.

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