Different types of plagiarism and tips for avoiding them in your papers

Types of plagiarism and their features

Plagiarism is not just borrowing someone else's ideas; it’s intellectual property theft. It's dishonest, and, most importantly, it has serious consequences. There are many types of plagiarism, from direct copying to using someone else's ideas without citing the source. Each can lead to problems for both authors and those who use it. Next, we'll look at what types of plagiarism exist, the intricacies of each, and how to avoid them to preserve your reputation and quality of work. 

Direct plagiarism

What types of plagiarism exist? Let’s start with direct plagiarism. Imagine you write a history paper and suddenly find the perfect paragraph that describes precisely what you need. You think, "Wow, this is such a time-saver!" And you just copy-paste it into your work without changing a single word. What's going on? You're using direct plagiarism. 

So, with direct plagiarism, you steal someone else's words and ideas, passing them off as your own. The problem is that every author receives money or recognition from the academic community for their work. Copy-pasting violates these rights and also damages your reputation. Plagiarism can lead to severe problems, from fines to expulsion from the university. 

Do this to avoid such problems with different types of plagiarism: 

  • Quote other people's words with marks and cite the source.
  • Paraphrase other people's texts in your own words.
  • Use your thoughts and ideas. 

Here is an example of direct plagiarism:


"World War II was the bloodiest conflict in human history. About 60 million people died in it."


"World War II was the bloodiest conflict in human history. About 60 million people died in it."

Commentary: We see no citation, reference to the source, or phrase like “According to statistics...” etc. 


Self plagiarism is using one's own previously published works or parts of them in new papers. As in the previous case, without proper citation or references. This includes:

  • Copying paragraphs or sentences. 
  • Using your own research or data without acknowledging it. 
  • Presenting previously submitted work as new. 

Why is self plagiarism bad? With direct plagiarism, everything is straightforward because you’re stealing the ideas of others, but that’s not the case here. First, the author artificially overstates their publication activity. Plus, self plagiarism can undermine the credibility of the author and their research. Other researchers will simply not want to collaborate or cite these works with self plagiarism. Finally, authors should strive to develop new ideas and research. Self plagiarism doesn’t help realize one's full scientific potential.

Intentional plagiarism

It's simple: intentional plagiarism is when you deliberately use the texts or ideas of others. This happens often because students don't want to sit around and rack their brains for a long time. The types of plagiarism we discussed above fall into this category. Intentional plagiarism is the most harmful because the kind of plagiarism we discuss below can be justified in some instances. 

Understanding the consequences is enough to avoid intentional plagiarism. We have emphasized them many times, so keep the principles of integrity in mind the next time intentional plagiarism gets you down. 

Unintentional plagiarism

Unintentional plagiarism, also known as accidental plagiarism, occurs when an author uses someone else's ideas, words, or materials without realizing it. This happens due to:

  1. Ignorance of the rules of citation. The author may not know how to do it correctly or what should be cited. 
  2. Negligence. For example, a student didn’t try to format the work correctly or check it for unintentional plagiarism before submitting it.  
  3. Unconscious borrowing. Sometimes, it seems that the ideas are yours, but you’ve already seen them before.  

The consequences of unintentional plagiarism vary depending on the specific situation. Sometimes, authors can correct the mistake and resubmit the paper. Or the committee may reject it and impose a penalty. Unintentional plagiarism still violates academic integrity. Even if the author doesn’t intend to cheat, they’re still responsible for proper citation. 

Mosaic plagiarism

Imagine a picture created from pieces of other people's work, with no clear boundary between them. That's mosaic plagiarism - an insidious idea theft disguised as original text.

How does it happen? With mosaic plagiarism, the author combines phrases and ideas from different sources. Insufficient verification makes it seem that the text is original. However, modern tools will still find mosaic plagiarism and show all the sources. Unlike direct copying, where the author only changes a few words, mosaic plagiarism is a more sophisticated manipulation.

Global plagiarism

Global plagiarism is a complex phenomenon with different definitions and consequences depending on the context. Typically, it is: 

  • The systematic use of ideas, texts, or data from other academic works. Again, no citation or acknowledgment of authorship is given, like in different types of plagiarism. 
  • Copying research methods, experiments, or protocols. 
  • Translating and publishing other people's work as your own without the authors' consent.
  • Falsifying data or manipulating research results.

The consequences of global plagiarism are much more severe than in other plagiarism cases; it’s no wonder we see the word “global” in the title. For example, expulsion from an educational institution, deprivation of academic titles, or cancellation of publications. Violators sometimes receive a fine, compensating the authors for their losses. Also, reputation destruction makes it almost impossible to get future publications and grants after global plagiarism use. 

Global plagiarism is spreading due to easy access to information on the Internet and growing international research collaboration. However, international standards of academic integrity continue to fight global plagiarism back.

Incremental plagiarism

Incremental plagiarism refers to the inclusion of other people's quotes, passages, or data. Paraphrasing plagiarism is also included. It’s a subtype of other types of plagiarism, so it can be challenging to detect, and thieving authors go unpunished. A good example is when a student enters some data as if they had conducted the survey or changed a few words or their order. 

That is, incremental plagiarism is gradually copying part or all of the text, usually without direct copying but with minor changes. Here are some examples of incremental plagiarism:

  1. Paragraph by paragraph. A student copies paragraphs from different sources and gradually composes the text of an essay or report, changing a few words or phrases to avoid detection. It's similar to mosaic plagiarism. 
  2. Paraphrasing. The teacher or student changes parts of the text, using incremental plagiarism, but retains the main idea. 
  3. Reordering sentences or paragraphs. It's a fairly common situation; students think that it'll help them to bypass the plagiarism detector. 
  4. Adding or removing information. The borrower may add or delete some sentences/phrases, but the overall structure and idea are preserved, so it’s incremental plagiarism. 

Paraphrasing plagiarism

You've probably had the urge to use an idea, but your conscience told you, “It's plagiarism; don't do it.” Then you came up with a brilliant thought to slightly change the text, i.e., rewrite it in your own words. Is this paraphrasing plagiarism? Yes, and here's why:

  • You are not expressing your own thoughts. Replacing words with synonyms does not make ideas original. You are simply disguising them as your own, so it’s paraphrasing plagiarism.
  • You do not give the author due credit. Even with a different text, it’s unfair to the author who has spent time and effort.
  • Plagiarism has serious consequences. Academic failure, loss of reputation, and legal problems are just a few possible scenarios. 

But are there any exceptions to paraphrasing plagiarism? Yes, if you write a research paper and do an excellent job of paraphrasing. You must read the text and understand it deeply. That’s how you paraphrase it in your own words, so it doesn't look like a cheap rewrite. Don’t just repeat the facts; formulate your conclusions and judgments. If you add something new to the idea, then you try and avoid paraphrasing plagiarism. Also, reorganize sentences, change the order of words, and use your examples and illustrations. Even if you paraphrase the text, credit the author of the original work. Just reveal your contribution to that thought. 

What is not plagiarism? 

Students often hesitate to cite specific data in their papers, not understanding different types of plagiarism. It’s vital to avoid theft, but you don't want to overload the text with unnecessary quotes. Here are some situations where you can use information without worrying about plagiarism:
  1. Well-known facts and data:
    - Scientific discoveries that have become public knowledge ("water boils at 100°C").
    - Historical events and dates ("World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945").
    - Geographical data ("The capital of France is Paris").
    - Statistics published by authoritative sources ("The population of Ukraine is 44 million people").
  2. Generalized ideas and concepts:
    - Theorems and laws ("Newton's Law of Gravitation").
    - Philosophical concepts ("Existentialism").
    - Scientific theories (Darwin's theory of evolution).
  3. Personal thoughts and opinions:
    - Critical analysis of information.
    - Data interpretation. Formulation of conclusions.
    - Argumentation of own position.
  4. Paraphrasing and quoting with references:
    - Using someone else's words and ideas, but in your own words ("According to [the author's] research, ...").
    - Quoting from sources with a clear indication of the author and publication.
  5. Creative content:
    - Your own poems, short stories, essays, drawings, music, etc.
    - Original research and experiments.
    - Development of new methods and ideas.

Remember that it is always better to be safe and provide references if you are unsure whether the information is public knowledge. Learn types of plagiarism to avoid mistakes. Plus, you can use an essay writing service; the work of experts will serve as a good example. It's also useful if you have a very busy schedule and need to devote time to more important subjects. If you don't delegate, it’ll lead to stress and poor grades; you don't want that. Experts know how to avoid different types of plagiarism, so don't worry about it either. 


How many types of plagiarism are there?

We've reviewed the 9 types of plagiarism above. Teachers and the commission consider these when checking. Each has its characteristics; consider different types of plagiarism in detail. 

Is there a difference between intentional and unintentional plagiarism?

The difference is in the awareness of the action: Intentional plagiarism is the deliberate use of other people's material without permission. Unintentional plagiarism can result from negligence or misquoting. We have discussed this in more detail above.

How does patchwork plagiarism differ from other forms of plagiarism?

Patchwork differs because the author uses fragments from different sources to form a new text, hiding the sources and violating copyright. It’s also plagiarism.