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✍️ Plagiarism in Academic Writing

Imagine you are writing an essay. You surf the web and find several reliable sources on the same subject area. You like some ideas from those articles or books and copy them into your file.

Is it plagiarism or academic citation? It depends on HOW you inserted the passage. Below you will find out the difference. But now, let us investigate the concept and its types.

Whenever you represent someone else’s work or any part thereof as your own, it is plagiarism. But what is plagiarism in academic writing? It means using ideas, information, know-how, or word combinations from any source (other than your head) without proper referencing. You can look up the formatting rules for such referencing in the respective citation style guide.

You have learned how to check for plagiarism and what plagiarism in academic writing means. Eager to know how to avoid the consequences of plagiarism and how to eliminate it in your text? You should differentiate between the five types of plagiarism.

📝 Academic Plagiarism: 5 Main Types

Direct plagiarism

Direct or complete plagiarism is the most common and unethical type. It happens when you insert someone else’s writing into your text without quotation marks or proper referencing.

Meanwhile, it is the easiest-detectable type. Avoid such plagiarism at all costs. It can entail disciplinary actions, lower grades, and even expulsion from your educational institution.

Paraphrasing plagiarism

Technically, the writer modifies the sentence structure or uses synonyms to make their paper look original. But paraphrasing someone’s idea does not make it your own. By the way, copying someone’s metaphors or analogies also refers to this type.

Sometimes this type can take the form of accidental plagiarism. It happens when you read an idea and like it. But time passes, and you start thinking that the idea is your own. Peer review usually eliminates such unintended academic dishonesty. If you want to know how to avoid it, use a free plagiarism checker.

Mosaic plagiarism

This type is also called patchwork plagiarism. It happens when you paraphrase someone else’s writing without referencing the source. It differs from paraphrasing plagiarism by the presence of some original ideas in the text.

It is the hardest type to detect since the “borrowed” material intermingles with the writer’s thoughts. Using several references for such plagiarism further complicates its detection. Even if you footnote the source, “patch writing” is academically punishable!


It is probably the most modest type. It happens when you use your previously published or submitted paper in the new one without proper citation. It is also self-plagiarism if you interlay some ideas, data, or phrases of your previous work with new ideas.

The rules of different institutions for self-plagiarism vary. Some prohibit it in all forms, and others do not take it into consideration. If you doubt, check the issue with your instructor.

Incorrect citation

Incorrect citation means the inappropriate use of citation style in an academic paper.

Most colleges require APA or MLA style, but some other are also possible. To avoid this type, always check the citation style and properly format all the references.

Incorrect citation is not plagiarism per se, but it can also entail negative consequences both for students and for teachers. The former may receive a lower grade, and the latter will spend more time checking the student’s paper.

Plagiarism vs. Academic Citation

How can you make sure that your citation is not a violation? The following four features distinguish academic citation from plagiarism.

  1. The author makes it clear that the idea has been borrowed from someone else.
  2. There is an explicit in-text citation.
  3. The bibliography at the end of the text contains the name of the cited work. The reference entry contains all the identification data of the source.
  4. Depending on the citation style, it requires quotation marks and some other specific formatting. You should homogenously edit the entire document according to the same rules.

In general, you can define plagiarism or academic citation by the following rule. Plagiarism is copying somebody’s published paper and using it as your own intellectual work, intendedly or not. Academic citing means mentioning the author and the source document where you have found the idea you want to use in your paper.

👆 How to Avoid Plagiarism: 3 Simple Rules

Nobody can be constantly original, especially if it is not our profession. Besides, integrating the ideas of other researchers into your paper makes your thoughts more credible. The principal thing here is to follow these three simple rules while borrowing ideas from any source.

  1. Paraphrase. It is the most traditional way to integrate someone else’s text into yours. Use your own words and sentence structure. Note that mere replacing some words with synonyms is not paraphrasing; it is plagiarism. Once you have explained the idea, provide a reference to the original as your citation style requires.
  2. Quote. The second most common way to use a piece of another text in your thesis is a direct quotation. Open the quotation marks, insert the required text without any changes, and close the quote. Then specify the page and the number of the source in your bibliography list. The specific requirements for the direct quotation are defined in the respective citation style rules.
  3. Cite. It means that you give credit to the author who inspired you. For example, there is no need to quote the entire passage. It is so extended that it will take half of a page. In this case, you can summarize it with your own words and provide a reference to the source. Just as with quotations, always give comprehensive information about the cited paper. It comprises the author’s name, the title of their work, publication date, volume number, URL, and other respective data.

❓ Plagiarism Checker FAQ

📍 Why Is Plagiarism Bad?
  1. Plagiarism is a theft of intellectual property, i.e., it is a misdemeanor.
  2. Obtaining benefits from such theft is unethical and obnoxious.
  3. Plagiarism undermines public trust in information and the credibility of its sources.
  4. It can destroy your professional or academic reputation.
  5. If the author sues the plagiarist, it can entail legal and financial punishment.
📍 How Do Professors Check for Plagiarism?
In addition to the traditional reading of their students’ papers, most professors use free plagiarism checkers. These are online tools or offline software that automatically verifies the authenticity of any text. As a result, professors can look through a report on the sources of the copied material for a full document.
📍 Is Plagiarism Illegal?
Plagiarism is not a severe crime, but it is a misdemeanor. It means that its sanctions do not presuppose imprisonment but can lead to a fine or other administrative punishment. The laws of some states consider plagiarism to be a felony. But in most of the US, academic institutions have their own rules to deal with the phenomenon.
📍 What Are the Consequences of Plagiarism?

In the academic world, plagiarism can give grounds for:

  • Expulsion from the institution
  • Suspension
  • Dismissal from the course
  • Grade reduction
  • Need to rewrite the assignment
  • Destroyed reputation
  • Damaged relations with professors

🔗 References