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Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism in Academic Work

Avoiding Plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism in Academic Work

Plagiarism is an intolerable act in the academic world and avoiding plagiarism is key. In academia, people are expected to respect the work of others as well as their own. Plagiarism is an act that directly goes against this mandate. 

According to a study by McCabe, 58% of students admit to committing plagiarism. This is a very large number and should show you the seriousness of the situation.

By stealing other people’s work and trying to use it as their own, the perpetrator undermines all the parties involved. 

Should a plagiarist go undetected, they massively demoralize the person whose work they have stolen. This is bad for research and advancement, and as such, strict measures are taken against plagiarists. 

In this article, we will check out what are some of the different types of plagiarism, their consequences, and how you can avoid plagiarism in your own work.

Types of Plagiarism 

The types of plagiarism can be divided broadly into two categories, they are:

  • Intentional/malicious
  • Unintentional/innocent

There are a lot of types of intentional plagiarism, in this section, we will discuss a few of the prominent ones.

  • Verbatim Plagiarism

In this type of plagiarism, the perpetrator directly copies copious amounts of text word for word from a source. 

They subsequently claim that it was their work all along. It is the most straightforward type of intentional plagiarism.

  • Paraphrased Plagiarism

This is a particularly insidious type of intentional plagiarism in which the perpetrator paraphrases text from a source and does not cite it. 

Then the perpetrator claims that it is their own work. This is insidious as it tries to actively hide plagiarism.

  • Mosaic/Patch-Work Plagiarism

This is another insidious sort of intentional plagiarism in which the perpetrator aims to hide their dishonesty. 

Instead of copying stuff from one source, the perpetrator takes a bit of work from a variety of sources and presents them as his/her own work.

Apart from these malicious sorts of plagiarism, there are two types of non-malicious ones. They are discussed below.

  • Accidental Plagiarism 

This is the sort of plagiarism that occurs when the writer makes any of the following mistakes:

  • Forgets to cite a source
  • Uses the incorrect citation
  • Writes the wrong reference
  • Writes the wrong date in the reference/citation
  • Writes the wrong author’s name
  • Writes the wrong publication name

And any other mistakes like these in which the credit is not properly given are also considered accidental plagiarism.

  • Coincidental Plagiarism 

This is the sort of plagiarism that occurs by chance. It usually happens with public domain information. 

Because there are too many published works already, even a unique piece can have plagiarism because the author coincidentally wrote something uncannily similar to another author’s work.

Consequences of Plagiarism for Academic Writers

Now, that we have seen the different types of plagiarism and have a better understanding of them, it is time to check out their repercussions.

In the academic world, there is no distinction between intentional and unintentional plagiarism

To the people, who are responsible for catching acts of plagiarism, all types of plagiarism are equally guilty.

Now, we are going to check out some consequences of plagiarism that will teach why you should always ensure that you are avoiding plagiarism.

1) Rejection of Your Work

The most obvious consequence of plagiarism is the rejection of your work. If you have committed plagiarism and submit an assignment/paper, then it will get rejected. 

No journal will publish the plagiarized work and any respectable institute will fail a plagiarized assignment.

2) Damage to Reputation

Most institutes and journals do not accommodate plagiarists in any capacity. They let others in their circle know about any plagiarists that they have caught. This results in a lot of negative publicity. 

This is enough to end a person’s career in the academic world, as no self-respecting organization will step anywhere near them. 

People will cease to associate with them to avoid getting their own reputation smeared as well.

3) Failure to Pursue Higher Education

If a high school student is caught plagiarizing significantly, then it will show up on their academic record. 

This means that further on in their academic career when they need to gain admission into a college, they can get rejected. 

In another scenario, where a college student gets expelled for plagiarism, they may get blacklisted and denied admission into another college. This effectively kills any chances of pursuing and creating an academic career.

Some Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

Now, that you know how terrible it is to plagiarize and what kind of repercussions await you, let’s check out how to avoid it as well. 

Of course, this section is for teaching you how to avoid unintentional sorts of plagiarism as they can land an honest writer in trouble. 

Research Extensively Before Writing

The first thing to avoid plagiarism is to be very thorough with your research. You may not know it, but people are actually very prone to copying other people unconsciously. 

This means that if you do not conduct research from a large variety of sources, you will inevitably copy stuff from the few sources that you read.

This will show up as plagiarism and will land you in trouble. However, when you research from a lot of sources, that tendency vanishes. 

The sheer plethora of information is enough to let you express it in many different ways without plagiarism.

Always Check Your Drafts for Plagiarism 

One thing you should always do is check your drafts after they are complete. That is necessary because even if you take all possible precautions, there is a chance that plagiarism occurred. 

That’s why you should check plagiarism online with tools. Why do we mention online plagiarism checking specifically? 

Well, the reason is that, unlike traditional plagiarism checkers that rely on databases, online tools can scan the internet itself.  Their results are much more reliable since the checking process is so thorough.

Any tool to check plagiarism online provides a plagiarism report. The report highlights exactly what parts are copied and where they were copied from. Using that information, you can deal with all sorts of plagiarism.

Paraphrase any Public Domain Information

Any information or source material that is no longer protected belongs to what we call the “Public domain”. Anything that is part of the public domain does not need to be credited. 

However, you cannot use the same wording as the original, or someone else’s interpretation of it. You have to use your own wording. 

One of the best ways of doing that is to take the sentences from the original and paraphrase them with a sentence rephraser. This is helpful in many ways as it takes the load off of your back. Any sentence rephraser worth its salt is able to paraphrase sentences in a comprehensive way. 

Track and Cite Your Sources

This is one of the most useful ways of avoiding plagiarism, but it involves being very vigilant. This ties into our first tip where we told you to research extensively. 

That has one caveat; it’s easy to lose track of sources and make mistakes in citations. 

That’s why this tip is required to counteract that drawback. Basically, all you have to do is to keep notes of all the sources you go through. 

Write down or record anything of importance and organize these notes/memos using the author, and publication names.

When you are writing, these notes will help you immensely, and you won’t forget to cite any sources, or make mistakes when citing them.


After reading this article, you should understand what is plagiarism, what are some of its important types, as well as their consequences. 

After reading how plagiarism is done, and why it should be avoided, you should have a better understanding of how to sidestep it. 

We also discussed some practical methods which will allow you to ensure that your work is plagiarism free. Hopefully, your own academic endeavours will benefit from this article.

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