What is Plagiarism | How to Avoid It

Understanding the common types of plagiarism will help us to comprehend the scope of the question and answer the question of ‘‘what is plagiarism’’. Some common examples of plagiarism are copying texts or ideas without referencing, incorrect referencing, without referring to someone else's sentence structure even if you change words.


What is Plagiarism | How to Avoid It


What is Plagiarism?

The most commonly accepted answer to the question of ‘what is plagiarism’ is the act of making someone else's work look as if it were your own. Some common examples of plagiarism are copying texts or ideas without referencing, incorrect referencing, without referring to someone else's sentence structure even if you change words. The main types of plagiarism are self-plagiarism and auto-plagiarism. Self-Plagiarism is the publication of an author's previous article as if it was a newly published one, while Auto-Plagiarism is the use of some of the previous paragraphs of an author without showing any references in the new manuscript. In order to comprehend the question of ‘what plagiarism is’, well, let’s look at the common types of plagiarism.

The Common Types of Plagiarism

Understanding the common types of plagiarism will help us to comprehend the scope of the question and answer the question of ‘what is plagiarism’. The general types of plagiarism are as follows:

  • Verbatim plagiarism

  • Mosaic plagiarism

  • Paraphrasing

  • Cyber plagiarism

  • Image plagiarism

US National Library of Medicine gives the details on definitions of afore-mentioned types of plagiarism to answer ‘what is plagiarism’. Furthermore, plagiarism is a phenomenon that is commonly experienced on the Internet. Some consider plagiarism as copying someone else’s jobs or borrowing other people’s novel works. However, considering plagiarism as just simple copying or borrowing would disguise the importance of the violation.

The below examples from the University of Cambridge will give us a deeper insight into how to properly answer the question of ‘what is plagiarism’. According to the University of Cambridge, examples of plagiarism include copying by:

  • quoting verbatim, another person’s work without due citing the source;

  • using ideas of others without reference to the writer;

  • copy-paste from the Internet;

  • paraphrasing other’s work by altering some of the words, or the order of the words, without due acknowledgement of the original source.

Moreover, according to the University of Cambridge, submitting other’s work as part of a writer’s own without clearly recognizing who did the work is plagiarism.  Buying or commissioning manuscripts or papers via professional organizations or not attributing research contributed by others to a joint undertaking are some common examples of plagiarism. Hence, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that plagiarism is an act of fraud because it comprises both stealing someone else's ideas and being dishonest about it subsequently. In the process of trying to find an answer to what plagiarism is? Keep in mind that it is considered as an act of fraud. A plagiarism-free paper improves your academic writing.

What is Plagiarism | An Act of Fraud?

However, some people are of the opinion that is it possible to steal words and ideas of others? The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) clearly answers the question of ‘what is plagiarism,’ as they state that plagiarism is a criminal offense. According to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), plagiarism is considered as both the theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work.

what is plagiarism

How is Plagiarism Described In Terms of Images and Videos?

How does plagiarism occur when it comes to images and videos? If you use a video or image in one of your works without permission of the creator or without providing an appropriate citation, your act is considered as plagiarism. Some of the popular activities commonly accepted as an act of plagiarism are as follows:

  • If you copy an image from another website and paste it into your project or website, this is seen as an act of plagiarism.

  • If you use footage from someone else’s videos or a piece of their music as part of your soundtrack, you violate the plagiarism rule.

  • If you play someone else’s copyrighted composition, your act will be considered as an act of fraud because of the plagiarism involved.  

Various applications have been made to measure whether a written article or composition is an original work or not. You can find out if the article you are writing is an original one by using some tools (e.g., Turnitin). When you implement one of these tools, they will clearly give you the answer to the question of  ‘‘what is plagiarism.’’

How to Avoid Plagiarism?

The tips below might be helpful in helping you to avoid plagiarism:

1- Avoid Copy-Pasting

One of the common problems regarding plagiarism is copy-pasting. This has become a difficult problem to handle, especially with the spread of the Internet which has facilitated easier access to information. Thus, understanding copy-pasting will allow us to comprehend what is involved in the act of plagiarism. The works obtained through the act of only ‘copy-pasting’ without spending much effort has become widespread. However, this makes such works a stolen one. As mentioned above, the ORI obviously reveals that plagiarism is considered as both the theft and misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of someone else’s work.

Therefore, it is important to avoid copy-pasting from other’s works. The best way to avoid such cases is to adopt the act of ‘paraphrasing’. By paraphrasing, you reconstruct others’ ideas in your own sentences with a citation of the source.

2- Add Citations

Not inputting citations in your work can lead to plagiarism; it is essential to insert citations while you are writing your manuscript. If you put your work aside for a while, it is very likely that you might forget where you got certain information already present in your work.

3- A Permission May Be Required from the Copyright Holder

When you need to use a piece of copyrighted work in your study, it’s advisable to get permission from the copyright holder. In such a case, a written permission or an e-mail indicating the proof of permission is preferable.

4- Avoid Self-Plagiarism

Self-plagiarism is one of the common types of plagiarism. Self-plagiarism is the publication of a writer’s previous article as if it was a newly published one. In such cases, authors usually re-use their own previous studies, images, or photos. However, this leads to plagiarism.

5- Avoid Entire Quotations

If you need to put the exact sentences from the original source, do not forget to add quotation marks with a citation to avoid plagiarism. An in-text reference is required for a suitable citation of direct quotation. However, there is a need to point out that the citation style of direct quotation varies by the manuals (e.g., APA, MLA). For instance, for direct quotes in an academic manuscript using APA style, these would involve the use of ‘in-text parenthetical’ citations at the end of the quotes. This in-text citation must have the author’s last name with the year of publication and page number (preceded by ‘p’). If you are directly quoting more than 40 words or longer, you would need to start the quotation on a new paragraph with a specified margin.

6- Check for Copyright for  Images and Videos

As discussed earlier, using a video or image in one of your works without the permission of the creator or not providing appropriate citation is considered as an act of plagiarism. This is because images and videos are also copyrighted as other works. Hence, you must get written permission from the copyright holder of the original work.

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