Plagiarism is the act of taking the work of another person and passing it off as your own without acknowledging that you used someone else’s work.
This can be particularly difficult to do in academic papers because there are so many references that you might not have noticed where the author got their information from in the first place.Here are six types of plagiarism you need to know about, along with tips on how to avoid them in your own writing.
1) Plagiarism on Purpose
Many students, especially at colleges and universities, decide to plagiarize their papers or research in an attempt to skip part of a writing assignment or to pad out a grade. It’s easy to go online and copy-and-paste text from other sites, but doing so will almost always result in getting caught—and receiving consequences. Before you commit plagiarism on purpose, think about how it’ll affect your future plans. Will it hurt your chances for graduate school? Will it make you unemployable? If you’re still not convinced that plagiarizing is wrong, consider that if everyone did it, there would be no need for degrees or diplomas; everyone would have them! In fact, if all things were equal, why even attend college at all? Your efforts would be better spent learning on your own with self-guided courses like Udemy or taking individual classes through local colleges. With these resources available to us all now, copying work isn’t worth any potential gains. Don’t plagiarize on purpose: Not only does it waste time and money, but it also wastes human potential—something that should never happen.
2) Copy And Paste From the Internet
This is the most common and obvious form of plagiarism. When you copy and paste, or cut-and-paste an entire paragraph or section from a source without citing it properly, you’re committing plagiarism. Don’t do it! If you don’t have time to cite all your sources in-text, use footnotes/endnotes (or Works Cited page) instead. If your instructor requires that you include parenthetical citations within your paper (in addition to endnotes), put them in when they apply—don’t just add them willy-nilly because that looks pretty. And if you quote someone directly, make sure to attribute their words. Most importantly: be honest with yourself about what constitutes plagiarism. It can get confusing out there… so think carefully before posting anything online or handing in any work for evaluation.
3) Chop & Change From Others’ Writing
Chop & change from others’ writing is when you take whole sentences or paragraphs from one source and rearrange them in your paper to make it appear as if you have written something original. Often known as paraphrasing, it is an easy way to mask plagiarized writing without actually having to rewrite any part of your paper. To spot plagiarized chop & change pieces of writing look for large chunks of words in roughly the same order as another source. The best way to avoid being caught out by chop & change plagiarism is to avoid using too many quotes and use a range of sources. When you use a lot of quotes from one source, it’s easier for someone else to find that source and compare it with yours – especially if they’re searching online. If you use a range of sources then not only will it be harder for someone else to find those sources but also there will be less overlap between what you’ve taken from each individual source.
4) Taking (Usually Partial) Credit for Someone Else’s Article/Work
Self-plagiarism is considered to be a lesser form of plagiarism; you didn’t completely make up an idea or work that belongs to someone else, but you took credit for it. This can include using a different source (changing just a few words) and passing it off as your own or republishing your previous works without citing them properly. While self-plagiarism isn’t as egregious as complete plagiarism, it’s still unethical and frowned upon by many employers. It also doesn’t help that there’s software out there specifically designed to detect self-plagiarized content. Some of these programs even alert publishers when they find potential instances of self-plagiarism in their writers’ pieces so they can remove them before publishing.
5) Journalistic Plagiarism
Sometimes called copycatting, journalistic plagiarism refers to copying content from an existing source without citing it. This type of plagiarism is relatively easy to spot because you typically have access to your sources—you just have to cite them. If you must use a pre-existing source, be sure that you have properly cited it and attributed any copied language (typically italicized) back to its original author. The most common form of journalistic plagiarism occurs when reporters fail to attribute quotes they’ve used in their stories. But even if you do attribute quotes, make sure that you don’t simply rewrite or summarize information; try to rephrase or paraphrase instead. Also, avoid using direct quotes for lengthy passages; instead, try paraphrasing or summarizing with your own words before attributing specific information to another source.
6) Unintentional Copying
Unintentional plagiarism is common, and it happens for many reasons. It could be simple carelessness on your part (you forgot to cite a source or didn’t see an inline citation), but it could also be sloppiness—like trying to fit too much information into one paragraph. Whatever the reason, unintentional plagiarism can make your professor (or grad school admissions board) think less of you. To avoid it, always double-check your citations and pay attention to formatting details like spacing and indentation. And if you use any outside sources in writing your paper, always read them first so that you know exactly what arguments they make. Then when you write your paper, paraphrase their ideas rather than directly quoting them; that way if there’s ever any question about whether something is yours or not, you have evidence that it isn’t.