Examples of Plagiarism & Tips for Avoiding It

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas without properly crediting the original author.

Some common examples of plagiarism include:

  • Paraphrasing a source too closely
  • Including a direct quote without quotation marks
  • Copying elements of different sources and pasting them into a new document
  • Leaving out an in-text citation
  • Submitting a full text that is not your own

The examples below illustrate common instances of accidental plagiarism, with solutions to help you submit your work with confidence.

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Consequences of plagiarism for students, academics, and professionals

If you use someone else’s words or ideas without properly crediting them, you could be committing plagiarism. The consequences of plagiarism vary based on the severity of the offense.

Consequences of mild, moderate, and severe plagiarism
Level of plagiarism Examples Likely consequence
Mild
  • Source cited in text but left out of reference list
  • Quotation marks omitted around a quote
Grade penalty or automatic zero
Moderate
  • Text copied from a source with a few words changed
  • Source paraphrased without citation
Failing grade on course
Severe
  • Patchwork of different texts passed off as original
  • Paper written by someone else
Academic probation or expulsion

Plagiarism can also have serious consequences in high school and during the college application process. Many high schools treat plagiarism the same way colleges do, and admissions officers will typically disregard your application if they find you’ve plagiarized any part of it.

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How to Avoid Plagiarism | Tips on Citing Sources

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas without properly crediting the original author. Sometimes plagiarism involves deliberately stealing someone’s work, but more often it happens accidentally, through carelessness or forgetfulness.

When you write an academic paper, you build upon the work of others and use various credible sources for information and evidence. To avoid plagiarism, you need to correctly incorporate these sources into your text.

Plagiarism can become an issue at various stages of the writing process. You can avoid plagiarism by:

  • Keeping track of the sources you consult in your research
  • Paraphrasing or quoting from your sources (and adding your own ideas)
  • Crediting the original author in an in-text citation and in your reference list
  • Using a plagiarism checker before you submit

Even accidental plagiarism can have serious consequences, so take care with how you integrate sources into your writing.

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Evaluating sources with the CRAAP test

The CRAAP test is a method to evaluate the credibility of a source you are using.

When conducting research, it’s important to use credible sources. They ensure the trustworthiness of your argument and strengthen your conclusions.

There are a lot of sources out there, and it can be hard to determine whether they are sufficiently credible, but doing so is an important information literacy skill. To help, librarians at California State University developed the CRAAP test in 2004.

The CRAAP test has 5 main components:
  • Currency: Is the source up to date?
  • Relevance: Is the source relevant to your research?
  • Authority: Where is the source published? Who is the author? Are they considered reputable and trustworthy in their field?
  • Accuracy: Is the source supported by evidence? Are the claims cited correctly?
  • Purpose: What was the motive behind publishing this source?

Asking yourself these questions should give you a good idea of whether your source is credible or not.

Here are some examples using different sources.

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Credible sources and how to spot them

A credible source is free from bias and backed up with evidence. It is written by a trustworthy author or organization.

There are a lot of sources out there, and it can be hard to tell what’s credible and what isn’t at first glance.

Evaluating source credibility is an important information literacy skill. It ensures that you collect accurate information to back up the arguments you make and the conclusions you draw.

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An introduction to mixed methods research

Mixed methods research combines elements of quantitative research and qualitative research in order to answer your research question. Mixed methods can help you gain a more complete picture than a standalone quantitative or qualitative study, as it integrates benefits of both methods.

Mixed methods research is often used in the behavioral, health, and social sciences, especially in multidisciplinary settings and complex situational or societal research.

Mixed methods research question examples
  • To what extent does the frequency of traffic accidents (quantitative) reflect cyclist perceptions of road safety (qualitative) in Amsterdam?
  • How do student perceptions of their school environment (qualitative) relate to differences in test scores (quantitative)?
  • How do interviews about job satisfaction at Company X (qualitative) help explain year-over-year sales performance and other KPIs (quantitative)?
  • How can voter and non-voter beliefs about democracy (qualitative) help explain election turnout patterns (quantitative) in Town X?
  • How do average hospital salary measurements over time (quantitative) help to explain nurse testimonials about job satisfaction (qualitative)?

Continue reading: An introduction to mixed methods research