What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism happens when authors, intentionally or unintentionally, present work that was not originally theirs as their own. Plagiarism is a violation of someone else’s intellectual property and is a serious, punishable offence.

Definition of plagiarism

You commit plagiarism when you:

Types of plagiarism

There are many types of plagiarism, but it is easy to avoid plagiarizing if you know what to look out for.

Here are the main things to avoid:
Direct plagiarismTaking someone else’s words, work or ideas and using them without citation is the most common form of plagiarism. You must cite the sources for every single non-original idea included in your paper, even when paraphrasing or summarizing, and especially when quoting.
Paying for someone else’s workWhether taking from a so-called essay bank or asking an individual to write your paper for you, paying for or submitting someone else’s work is plagiarism.
Self-plagiarismTurning in a paper you already submitted is plagiarism. Even using ideas or phrases from your previous assignments without citation could constitute self-plagiarism, so be sure to check with your university to find out what applies for you.
Copy-and-paste plagiarismCopying and pasting different pieces of text together to create a kind of “mosaic” or “patchwork” of other researchers’ ideas is plagiarism.

Consequences of plagiarism

The consequences of committing plagiarism will depend on your position and where the plagiarism occurred.

Students are likely to fail the assessment in question, possibly fail the course, and face suspension or expulsion from the university. The decision is often based on the severity of the infraction.

For working professionals, committing plagiarism could be a career-ending move and have serious legal ramifications.

Avoiding plagiarism

There are some easy steps you can follow to avoid plagiarism:

  1. Save or note all relevant information for every source your use
  2. Quote, paraphrase and summarize correctly.
  3. Include citations and a reference list that correctly follow the guidelines of your citation style.
  4. Review your dissertation thoroughly.
  5. Use a plagiarism checker.

Plagiarism checkers

To set your mind at ease, you can use the same technology as your university to check your research paper for plagiarism. By running such a check, you will be alerted of any potential plagiarism in your document and have the opportunity to ensure your citations are correct.

Take a look at Scribbr’s Plagiarism Checker, or read the in-depth comparison of the best plagiarism checkers for research paper.

Scribbr’s Plagiarism checker or Plagiarism checker comparison

Frequently asked questions about plagiarism

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