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10 Most Common Types of Plagiarism

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Plagiarism is a dreaded term among students, as it always leads to serious consequences. Plagiarism occurs in many ways, and it is crucial that every student knows about the different types of plagiarism. It is important to learn about the various types as well as the meaning of plagiarism Checker so that they don’t make the same mistakes in their writing. Taking credit for someone else’s work or copy-pasting from another source can result in severe consequences, and knowing how plagiarism can happen can help you evade such ways.

The Definition and Significance of Plagiarism

If you are asked to define plagiarism, it can be simply explained as an act of using the words, ideas, or works of someone else without acknowledging or crediting the original source. It can be a sentence, a quote, an image, music, design or any form of intellectual expression.

Plagiarism is considered unethical and a breach of integrity in both academic and professional aspects. This is because when you plagiarise, you intentionally or unintentionally fail to acknowledge the hard work of the original creator. So, in a way, you are misleading others into believing it is your own work. This is hereby considered an act of dishonesty and is strictly forbidden while doing any creative or literary work.

So now that you are aware of what plagiarism is, let’s check out the various types of plagiarism

Direct Plagiarism

The first type of plagiarism that students commonly make is direct plagiarism, where you copy every word directly from the source. Once you copy word-for-word without any quotations or attributions, it leaves a false impression that you are the creator. For example, if you cite a famous quotation like, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”, but forget to mention the name of William Shakespeare or don’t put it in quotes, it becomes an example of direct plagiarism.

If you get caught doing direct plagiarism, you can face several charges. There can be suspension, academic assistance probation, reduction in grades, and even expulsion. Direct plagiarism means severe professional repercussions too. Not only may you face lawsuits, but it can also damage your credibility and reputation permanently.

However, you can avoid it by following a few tips –

  • Use quotation marks whenever you are using any other’s quotes
  • Instead of copying, learn how to paraphrase and summarise a paragraph
  • Keep notes while researching that you can refer to while writing
  • Use various tools like Duplichecker or Grammarly to avoid plagiarism


The definition of self-plagiarism states that you are copying from old work of yours to produce new content. It is also known as textual recycling, and reusing your published work can also lead to plagiarism. For example, if you have written an assignment on modern economics during your graduation, and it is already published, you cannot use it anymore. Yet, if you take excerpts from it or copy the entire paper again during your PhD, it will be flagged as plagiarism.

Self-plagiarism is deemed unethical because even though you are duplicating your own content, the readers believe that they are reading something original. Hence, there is a clear lack of transparency. Moreover, self-plagiarism means violation of intellectual property too. After a paper gets published, it becomes the intellectual property of the publisher. So, when you are republishing the same content without the permission of the publishers, it violates that breach of contract. Not to mention, it dilutes your scholarly contributions, as you get an unfair advantage over others.

Hence, it is crucial to be aware of this plagiarism so that the readers cannot question your integrity. Original papers also build your credibility, thus allowing you to prosper in your professional field.

Paraphrasing Plagiarism

This is a very common form of plagiarism. For example, if you pick a sentence or paragraph from another work and paste it by only tweaking a few words, it still gets considered as plagiarism. You cannot claim it to be your own work just by rearranging a few words. Many of you often ask what is paraphrasing plagiarism because of a lack of clarity. Hence, it is very important to know how to paraphrase efficiently.

There are a few steps that you can follow to paraphrase effectively –

  • Read the original source multiple times till you understand it completely.
  • Paraphrase the content on a note card first.
  • Envision how the content will look like by using the paraphrased words.
  • Ensure that it perfectly expresses all the information without resembling the original source.
  • Use quotations in those areas where you borrowed a phrase or an expression.

Following these tips can easily keep your paper safe from accidental plagiarism.

Mosaic Plagiarism

Mosaic or incremental plagiarism is when you copy or “borrow” content because of unavoidable circumstances. Authors are often forced to copy lines and expressions but forget to acknowledge them. You can understand this type of plagiarism from these plagiarism examples –

Copying from a single source

You may copy a text, phrase, or paragraph from one source. You may also use the idea of the original work without crediting the original author.

Copying from several sources

You may copy various sentences or ideas from different sources. You can derive ideas from various sources and compile them together to give a logical structure. So, it becomes a culmination of borrowed phrases and ideas but without any citations.

Although recognising single-source plagiarism can be easy, identifying multiple-source mosaic plagiarism can be trickier. However, you can scan your paper helper through reputed plagiarism checkers and easily detect plagiarism. However, you should learn how to avoid this form of plagiarism as there can be many plagiarism consequences otherwise.

The best way to avoid mosaic plagiarism is by citing the sources appropriately. If you use correct citations, that will give the deserved credit to the original author. Moreover, the usage of quotations and footnotes are also effective ways to check mosaic plagiarism.

Accidental Plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism occurs when you make a plagiarism error unintentionally. It may happen because of a lack of knowledge or unintentionally paraphrasing from a source. You may also forget to cite the sources or misquote them. Whatever the reason, if you accidentally write the exact same words as another source, it gets tagged as accidental plagiarism.

To avoid any chances of accidental plagiarism, you can follow these five steps –

  • Always acknowledge any old but relevant work
  • Always put any quotes under quotations
  • Understand the sources, formulate your own idea, and write using your own words
  • Indicate any direct quotations clearly while taking notes
  • Provide citations even for the obvious facts

By following these simple tips, you can clearly distinguish your ideas from others.

Types Of Plagiarism

Verbatim Plagiarism

Verbatim plagiarism means copying texts from one source and pasting it without any changes or credit. Even if you replace or delete a few words from the copied text, it still gets considered as verbatim plagiarism. Some may consider verbatim plagiarism with global plagiarism, but there are a few differences between the two. According to the global plagiarism definition, you copy the entire paper. However, in verbatim, you copy only certain parts of the source.

Verbatim plagiarism inflicts major consequences once detected. The professors may cancel your paper, reduce your grades, and even suspend you from taking further classes. Not to mention, it can also damage your reputation and credibility. Hence, you should follow these steps to give credit to the original writers properly –

  • Use quotation marks whenever you are directly quoting a sentence, a phrase, or a passage.
  • Provide source attribution immediately after a direct quote to acknowledge the original author.
  • Always rephrase the information or ideas instead of quoting them directly.
  • Indirect quotations can be a great way if you want to summarise a large text.
  • In addition to the in-text citations, also include a bibliography at the end of the work.

Always keep in mind that you need to give proper credit to the authors, and you can eliminate any chance of making such errors.

Citation Plagiarism

Many of you ask us, what is citation plagiarism? This form of plagiarism is nothing but presenting the work of someone else as your own without crediting the actual author. This kind of plagiarism is common in academic writing, as many of you don’t know the correct way to cite. Follow these examples to understand how incorrect citations happen while writing papers –

  • Original source – “It’s been shown that regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health.”
  • Incorrect citation – “It’s been shown that regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health” (Original author name, 2023)

In this example, although the second individual cited the original author’s name, they failed to provide complete details like the page number or publication name. Similarly, the second author can include wrong attributions (writing his name instead of the original writer), and it will still be incorrect.

Another example of incorrect citations is if the second author fabricates a fictional entity as a legitimate source. All these situations perfectly define the case of citation plagiarism.

To ensure you don’t become a victim of citation plagiarism, you need to know about the citation styles. MLA, APA, and Chicago are three major citation styles the leading universities follow. So, whatever the circumstances, always ask your professors to be clear about the citation style you need to follow. You can also check multiple plagiarism examples and treat those as a guideline for writing your papers.

Idea Plagiarism

As the name suggests, idea plagiarism is just “stealing” ideas rather than words. Using someone else’s idea and giving it a fresh outlook without acknowledging the original person is another kind of plagiarism. Some of the prominent examples of idea plagiarism can be traced back to the infamous lawsuits against J.K. Rowling and J.R.R Tolkien. The British author Adrian Jacobs claimed that Rowling stole many of his ideas for her “Goblet of Fire” from his book, “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard”. Similarly, Opera composed Richard Wagner dragged Tolkien to the court, claiming that he copied his ideas for The Lord of the Rings from the Opera Ring of the Nibelung.

So, honouring intellectual property is the smartest way to avoid idea plagiarism. You can follow these tips to honour intellectual property and avoid plagiarism consequences –

  • Provide attribution
  • Summarise in your mind and paraphrase smartly
  • Do a critical analysis of the content instead of paraphrasing blindly
  • Contribute some original thoughts
  • Consult from a variety of sources
  • Seek permission to use even the unpublished ideas
  • Familiarise yourself with all the major citation styles

By following these tips, you can uphold integrity at all times and avoid idea plagiarism.

Patchwork Plagiarism

Patchwork plagiarism is copying and rearranging information from other sources without citing them properly. This kind of plagiarism resembles mosaic plagiarism, as writers copy only parts of a paragraph instead of the entire piece. A good example of patchwork is copying Wikipedia information within an assignment. Many of you do this without citing the source properly, which gets flagged as plagiarism. While paraphrasing, if you write words similar to the original file, that gets considered patchwork plagiarism as well.

Detecting such plagiarism is not hard for any good plagiarism detection tool like Grammarly. If the algorithm detects that your content is almost word-to-word from even multiple sources, it will alert you to acknowledge the original posts.

So, you should always acknowledge every source you are taking your ideas from to eliminate this type of plagiarism. Another smart way to avoid patchwork plagiarism is to understand the ideas and write those in your own words while including some original ideas in between.

Source Neglect Plagiarism

There are times when you fail to cite the sources you have used properly. It can happen because of various reasons –

  • Carelessness
  • Lack of knowledge about citation practices
  • Unintentionally neglecting to give credit to the authors

While all these may not seem like deliberate fraud attempts, it is still a form of plagiarism.

To ensure that you can avoid this form of plagiarism successfully, you can start following these tips –

  • Understand the citation requirements before writing the paper.
  • Make a note of all the sources you are using so you don’t forget to mention them later on.
  • Make your notes as you keep researching.
  • Mention any idea that isn’t original.
  • Use quotation marks while paraphrasing
  • Review the paper multiple times to ensure there is no citation gap.
  • Scan the paper through plagiarism detection tools before submission.

Giving credit to the original authors is essential as it demonstrates your intellectual integrity while writing papers. Not to mention while doing so, you can also guarantee that your paper is free of plagiarism. So, follow these tips and avoid making source neglect plagiarism.


So, in this blog, we have discussed the ten most common types of plagiarism – direct, self, paraphrasing, mosaic, accidental, verbatim, citation, idea, patchwork, and source neglect. We have explained each of these plagiarism types in detail so that you can understand the importance of plagiarism. Plagiarism can be a wreaker ball in your academic and professional life and can destroy anything you have achieved in a moment. So, always give proper acknowledgement to all the authors and sources you have used while writing a paper. By doing so, you can not only save your credibility and integrity but also contribute to the advancement of knowledge. So, always be mindful not to make any plagiarism errors and uphold the ethical principles of academic or professional writing.

Most Popular Frequently Asked Question

Q. What are some statistics regarding plagiarism among students?

A survey across the top colleges and universities shows that quite a few students admitted that they had plagiarised sometimes throughout their academic life. Approximately 12.2% admitted that they had copied someone else’s work while doing their academic papers.

Q. What are the major types of plagiarism?

There are ten major types of plagiarism. They are –

  • Direct
  • Self
  • Paraphrasing
  • Mosaic
  • Accidental
  • Verbatim
  • Citation
  • Idea
  • Patchwork
  • Source neglect

Q. What is self-plagiarism, and why is it considered unethical?

Self-plagiarism occurs if you copy certain parts of your previously published papers. It also refers to the instances if you republish your old papers twice. Even though it is your own work, self-plagiarism is unethical. It wastes the time of the readers, as they are not reading anything original. Moreover, republishing means multiple reviewers are reading the same work for multiple publications.

Q. What is mosaic plagiarism, and how does it differ from other types?

Mosaic plagiarism is different from other forms of plagiarism because here you copy only certain excerpts, phrases, or quotes instead of the entire source. In other words, unlike other forms of plagiarism, here, your entire paper remains original, barring the data and quotations, which get included without acknowledging the main author.

Q. What are the consequences of plagiarism, particularly in academic settings?

Plagiarism can lead to devastating consequences for a student. Some of the major consequences are –

  • Destroys the reputation of the student
  • Academic reputation in tatters
  • Legal repercussions from original post owners
  • Monetary fines
  • Loss of Grades
  • Destroys the credibility of the students
  • Suspension or Expulsion from the institution

Hi, I am Mark, a Literature writer by profession. Fueled by a lifelong passion for Literature, story, and creative expression, I went on to get a PhD in creative writing. Over all these years, my passion has helped me manage a publication of my write ups in prominent websites and e-magazines. I have also been working part-time as a writing expert for for 5+ years now. It’s fun to guide students on academic write ups and bag those top grades like a pro. Apart from my professional life, I am a big-time foodie and travel enthusiast in my personal life. So, when I am not working, I am probably travelling places to try regional delicacies and sharing my experiences with people through my blog. 

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