Plagiarism: Forms and Way Forward

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a common (and often misunderstood) problem that is often the result of a lack of knowledge and skills. Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "stealing and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" and the representation of them as one's own original work.

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Plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics. It is subject to penalties, suspension, and even expulsion from school or work. Recently, cases of "extreme plagiarism" have been identified in academia. The modern concept of plagiarism as immoral and originality as an ideal emerged in Europe in the 18th century, particularly with the Romantic movement.

Plagiarism is not in itself a crime but can constitute copyright infringement. In academia and industry, it is a serious ethical offence. Plagiarism and copyright infringement overlap to a considerable extent, but they are not equivalent concepts, and many types of plagiarism do not constitute copyright infringement, which is defined by copyright law and may be adjudicated by courts. Plagiarism is not defined or punished by law, but rather by institutions (including professional associations, educational institutions, and commercial entities, such as publishing companies).

According to Oxford University Website, Plagiarism is presenting someone else's work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered. Plagiarism may be intentional or reckless, or unintentional. Under regulations for examinations, willful or reckless plagiarism is a disciplinary offence.


According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to "plagiarise" means:
  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterwards.

Moreover, plagiarism refers to:
  1. turning in someone else's work as your own
  2. copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  3. failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  4. providing incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  5. changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  6. copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)
Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided, however, by citing sources. Simply acknowledging that specific material has been borrowed and providing your audience with the information necessary to find that source is usually enough to prevent plagiarism.


According to Bela Gipp, academic plagiarism encompasses: "The use of ideas, concepts, words, or structures without appropriately acknowledging the source to benefit in a setting where originality is expected." The definition by B. Gipp is an abridged version of Teddi Fishman's definition of plagiarism, which proposed five elements characteristic of plagiarism.

According to T. Fishman, plagiarism occurs when someone:
  • Uses words, ideas, or work products
  • Attributable to another identifiable person or source
  • Without attributing the work to the source from which it was obtained
  • In a situation in which there is a legitimate expectation of original authorship
  • To get some benefit, credit, or gain which need not be monetary
Furthermore, plagiarism is defined differently among institutions of higher learning and universities:
  • Stanford sees plagiarism as the "use, without giving reasonable and appropriate credit to or acknowledging the author or source, of another person's original work, whether such work is made up of code, formulas, ideas, language, research, strategies, writing or other forms."
  • Yale views plagiarism as the "... use of another's work, words, or ideas without attribution," which includes "... using a source's language without quoting, using information from a source without attribution, and paraphrasing a source in a form that stays too close to the original."
  • Princeton perceives plagiarism as the "deliberate" use of "someone else's language, ideas, or another original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source."
  • Oxford College of Emory University characterises plagiarism as using "a writer's ideas or phraseology without giving due credit."
  • Brown defines plagiarism as "... appropriating another person's ideas or words (spoken or written) without attributing those words or ideas to their true source."
  • The U.S. Naval Academy defines plagiarism as "the use of the words, information, insights, or ideas without crediting that person through proper citation."

10 Forms of Plagiarism 


According to a 2015 survey of teachers and professors by Turnitin, there are 10 primary forms of plagiarism that students commit:

§  Submitting someone's work as their own.
§  Taking passages from their own previous work without adding citations.
§  Re-writing someone's work without properly citing sources.
§  Using quotations but not mentioning the source.
§  Interweaving various sources together in work without citing.
§  Citing some but not all passages that should be cited.
§  Melding together cited and uncited sections of the piece.
§  Providing proper citations but fails to change the structure and wording of the borrowed ideas enough.
§  Inaccurately citing the source.
§  Relying too heavily on other people's work. Fails to bring original thought into the text.

Forms of Plagiarism in Writing

  1. Verbatim (word for word) quotation without explicit acknowledgement: Quotations must always be identified by quotation marks or indentation and complete referencing of the cited sources. It must always be apparent to the reader which parts are your own independent work and where you have drawn on someone else's ideas and language.
  2. Cutting and pasting from the Internet without explicit acknowledgement: Information from the Internet must be adequately referenced and included in the bibliography. It is essential to carefully evaluate all material found on the Internet, as it is less likely to have been through the same scholarly peer-review process as published sources.
  3. Paraphrasing: Paraphrasing the work of others by altering a few words and changing their order or by closely following the structure of their argument is plagiarism if you do not give due acknowledgement to the author whose work you are using. A passing reference to the original author in your own text may not be enough; you must ensure that you do not create the misleading impression that the paraphrased wording or the sequence of ideas is entirely your own. It is better to write a brief summary of the author's overall argument in your own words, indicating that you are doing so, than paraphrasing particular sections of their writing. This will ensure you have a genuine grasp of the argument and avoid the difficulty of paraphrasing without plagiarising. You must also correctly attribute all material you derive from lectures.
  4. Collusion: This can involve unauthorised collaboration between students, failure to attribute assistance received, or failure to follow preciseness regulations on group work projects. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are entirely clear about the extent of collaboration permitted and which parts of the work must be your own.
  5. Inaccurate citation: It is important to cite correctly, according to the conventions of your discipline. As well as listing your sources (i.e. in a bibliography), you must indicate where a quoted passage comes from using a footnote or an in-text reference. Additionally, you should not include anything in your contacts or bibliography that you have not actually consulted. If you cannot gain access to a primary source, you must make it clear in your citation that your knowledge of the work has been derived from a secondary text (for example, Bradshaw, D. Title of Book, discussed in Wilson, E., Title of Book (London, 2004), p. 189).
  6. Failure to acknowledge assistance: You must clearly acknowledge all aid that has contributed to the production of your work, such as advice from fellow students, laboratory technicians, and other external sources. This need not apply to the assistance provided by your tutor or supervisor or to ordinary proofreading. Still, it is necessary to acknowledge additional guidance which leads to substantive changes in content or approach.
  7. Use of material written by professional agencies or other persons: You should neither make use of professional agencies in the production of your work nor submit material that has been written for you, even with the consent of the person who has written it. It is vital to your academic training and development that you undertake the research process unaided. Under Statute XI on University Discipline, all university members are prohibited from providing the material that could be submitted to an examination by students at this university or elsewhere.
  8. Auto-plagiarism: You must not submit work for assessment that you have already submitted (partially or in whole), either for your current course or for another qualification of this, or any other, university, unless this is expressly provided for the special regulations for your course. Where earlier work by you is citable, i.e. it has already been published, you must reference it clearly. Identical pieces of work submitted concurrently will also be considered to be auto-plagiarism.

How to Avoid Plagiarism in Research

  1. Paraphrase - You have found information that is perfect for your research paper. Read it and put it into your own words. Make sure that you do not copy verbatim more than two words in a row from the text you have found. If you use more than two words together, you will have to use quotation marks. We will get into quoting properly soon.
  2. Cite - Citing is one of the effective ways to avoid plagiarism. Follow the document formatting guidelines (i.e. APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) used by your educational institution or the institution that issued the research request. This usually entails the addition of the author(s) and the publication date or similar information. Citing is really that simple. Not citing properly can constitute plagiarism.
  3. Quoting - When quoting a source, use the quote exactly as it appears. No one wants to be misquoted. Most institutions of higher learning frown on "block quotes" or quotes of 40 words or more. A scholar should be able to effectively paraphrase most material. This process takes time, but the effort pays off! Quoting must be done correctly to avoid plagiarism allegations.
  4. Citing Quotes - Citing a quote can be different from citing paraphrased material. This practice usually involves adding a page number or a paragraph number in the case of web content.
  5. Citing Your Own Material - If some of the material you are using for your research paper was used by you in your current class, a previous one, or somewhere else, you must cite yourself. Treat the text the same as you would if someone else wrote it. It may sound odd, but using the material you have used before is called self-plagiarism, and it is not acceptable.
  6. Referencing - one of the most important ways to avoid plagiarism is to include a reference page or page of works cited at the end of your research paper. Again, this page must meet the document formatting guidelines used by your educational institution. This information is precise and includes the author(s), publication date, title, and source. Follow the directions for this page carefully. You will want to get the references right.
  7. Patchwriting: Patchwriting refers to text that is too similar in format and wording to the original quote. This can be a sign of not fully understanding the message. Be mindful of this. It is not acceptable to simply use synonyms to replace original words. It is easy to simply copy text off the Internet for anything we want to discuss. We copy and paste it into a blank virtual piece of paper. We cut out superfluous information and added our own words. This is patchwriting, and it is still plagiarism.
Md. Mohinuddin

Marketer | Researcher | Counsellor

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