Examples of Plagiarism & Tips for Avoiding It
Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas without properly crediting the original author.
Some common examples of plagiarism include:
- Paraphrasing a source too closely
- Including a direct quote without quotation marks
- Copying elements of different sources and pasting them into a new document
- Leaving out an in-text citation
- Submitting a full text that is not your own
The examples below illustrate common instances of accidental plagiarism, with solutions to help you submit your work with confidence. Most of these types of plagiarism are quite easy to detect with a reliable plagiarism checker.
Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. In order to do so correctly, you must entirely rewrite the passage you are referencing without changing the meaning of the original text.
Every time you paraphrase, it’s important to cite the original source and avoid wording that is too similar to the original. Otherwise, you could be at risk of committing paraphrasing plagiarism.
Remember that paraphrasing doesn’t just mean switching out a few words for synonyms while retaining the original sentence structure. The author’s idea must be reformulated in a way that fits smoothly into your text.
Quoting means copying a brief passage from another text, enclosing it in quotation marks.
If you fail to include quotation marks or a citation, you’re committing verbatim plagiarism: copying someone’s exact words without acknowledgement. Even if you change a few of the words, it’s still plagiarism.
To quote correctly, introduce the quotation in your own words, make sure it’s enclosed in quotation marks, and include a citation showing where it comes from.
Patchwork plagiarism: Combining multiple sources
Patchwork plagiarism, also called mosaic plagiarism, involves copying elements of different sources and combining them to create a new text. It can include both directly copying and paraphrasing content without citation.
It can be challenging to incorporate several sources into your work at once, so be sure to double-check that you are citing each one correctly.
If you quote or paraphrase multiple sources in one sentence, it’s often best to cite each one separately, so that it’s clear what material comes from which source.
Common knowledge: When do I need a citation?
Common knowledge refers to information you can reasonably expect the average reader to accept without proof.
For this kind of information, you don’t need a citation. For example, you won’t be accused of plagiarism for failing to cite your sources when you mention Paris is the capital city of France.
In order to be considered common knowledge, your statement must be widely known, undisputed, and easily verified. It also generally cannot be attributed to a specific person or paper. When in doubt, add a citation.
Real-life examples of plagiarism
Plagiarism is most commonly discussed in the context of academia, but it’s a relevant concern across all sorts of different industries, from pop music to politics.
Frequently asked questions about plagiarism
- What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism means presenting someone else’s work as your own without giving proper credit to the original author. In academic writing, plagiarism involves using words, ideas, or information from a source without including a citation.
Plagiarism can have serious consequences, even when it’s done accidentally. To avoid plagiarism, it’s important to keep track of your sources and cite them correctly.
- What are some examples of plagiarism?
Some examples of plagiarism include:
- Copying and pasting a Wikipedia article into the body of an assignment
- Quoting a source without including a citation
- Not paraphrasing a source properly, such as maintaining wording too close to the original
- Forgetting to cite the source of an idea
The most surefire way to avoid plagiarism is to always cite your sources. When in doubt, cite!
If you’re concerned about plagiarism, consider running your work through a plagiarism checker tool prior to submission. Scribbr’s Plagiarism Checker takes less than 10 minutes and can help you turn in your paper with confidence.
- Do I have to cite common knowledge?
Common knowledge does not need to be cited. However, you should be extra careful when deciding what counts as common knowledge.
Common knowledge encompasses information that the average educated reader would accept as true without needing the extra validation of a source or citation.
Common knowledge should be widely known, undisputed and easily verified. When in doubt, always cite your sources.
- Is paraphrasing considered plagiarism?
Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism, because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.
However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly cite the source. This means including an in-text citation and a full reference, formatted according to your required citation style.
As well as citing, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.
- Can you plagiarize yourself?
Yes, reusing your own work without acknowledgment is considered self-plagiarism. This can range from re-submitting an entire assignment to reusing passages or data from something you’ve turned in previously without citing them.
Self-plagiarism often has the same consequences as other types of plagiarism. If you want to reuse content you wrote in the past, make sure to check your university’s policy or consult your professor.
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