3 Types of Plagiarism We Forget About

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By Michele Kirschenbaum, Library Media Specialist

We’re all responsible researchers, correct? We create perfect APA citations. Our MLA formatting is on point. Chicago style citation? We can do it with our eyes closed. We compose original essays. We’re all amazing writers. We’re…dreaming. You know the saying, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Let’s face it, writing a research paper is tough. From start to finish, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. From note-taking, to finding credible sources, learning how to write an annotated bibliography, citing, formatting, it’s a lot! The pressure of putting together a high-quality paper is stressful and time-consuming, which is why some students feel the need to take shortcuts. Those shortcuts, which at the time may seem like clever hacks, can turn into pretty serious consequences. A disappointing grade, failed course, even expulsion, are just a few of the negative consequences that could happen by taking the easy way out. 

If it’s your goal to be a responsible researcher (and we sure hope it is!), then it’s important for you to be aware of the various types of plagiarism. Some forms of plagiarism are blatant and obvious. Some are so subtle that you may not even realize they’re forms of plagiarism. We’ve put together a colorful, explanatory infographic that highlights the 5 main types of plagiarism. We even take it a step further and explain how to prevent each type. Read through each form of plagiarism, learn how to prevent it, and feel secure and confident with submitting a paper that is plagiarism-free!
Types of plagiarism


Looking for more resources? Take a peek at the BibMe grammar guides on topics like what’s a conjunction, reflexive vs intensive pronouns, varieties of nouns, and more! 

You’ve seen it in the news. A musician accused of stealing a song, a politician’s speech picked apart for being similar to another’s, or a plagiarism inquiry into a well-known scientist’s research report. No doubt, being accused of plagiarism is the worst. It’s embarrassing, totally humiliating, and undermines an individual’s talent and authority.

Learning how to prevent plagiarism (and citing in MLA and APA) is something you’ve probably spent time learning in school before. But, did you know there are a few, often overlooked ways to plagiarize? Check out these three types of plagiarism that tend to sneak into assignments:

Self-plagiarism

You might be shocked when you read this, but you can plagiarize yourself! It sounds crazy, but it’s 100% true. Self-plagiarism is the result of recycling your own material without citing it.

It’s totally tempting to hand in a previously submitted research paper as a “new” project, but doing that means you’re not developing the fresh, current research your teacher expects. Also, if your research paper was picked up by an academic journal for publishing, it can become the property of the journal publication.

Can you reuse projects and information from previously written assignments? You sure can! You simply have to cite it the same way you’d cite other sources. Or, if there’s an old paper that would work perfectly for a new assignment, ask your teacher or professor if you can repurpose it and expand upon it in a new way. If you decide to do this, try out BibMe’s thesis citation form.

Poor paraphrasing or patchwriting

Ever tried rewriting an author’s sentence, but it ended up too close to the original? That’s exactly what patchwriting is. In a nutshell, it’s a poor attempt at paraphrasing. While it’s often an innocent mistake, patchwriting usually happens when a writer doesn’t completely comprehend the original author’s words. The writer uses the original author’s idea, but replaces the original text with synonyms. Even if the writer includes an in-text or parenthetical citation, if the paraphrase is too close to the original, then it’s patchwriting, resulting in plagiarism.

How do you paraphrase properly? Here are a few step-by-step guidelines:

  1. Take some time to fully comprehend the original author’s words or idea. If you’re having difficulty with comprehension, use a search engine to read up on tricky words or subject-specific language. Sometimes it helps to ask a friend to clarify what you’re reading.
  2. Once you’ve fully grasped the author’s meaning, put his or her words to the side, and rewrite what you’ve read. Use your own words and style of writing, but weave in the original author’s concepts and ideas.
  3. Include an in-text or parenthetical citation, along with a full text citation at the end of your project.

Here’s an example of a paraphrase that isn’t patchwriting:

Original text from the book, Libraries in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson:

“The very first problem the Ptolemies faced was acquisitions. Egypt boasted a long and distinguished culture, and there were books aplenty throughout the land—in Egyptian. There were Greek books to be bought in Athens and Rhodes and other established centers of Greek culture, but not in newly fledged Alexandria. The Ptolomies’ solution was money and royal high handedness.”

Paraphrase:

As a new, flourishing cultural center, The Library of Alexandria was in need of rich literature from other prominent areas. Where did the Ptolomies look? Greece. The Ptolomies used their money and power to obtain books from nearby Athens and Rhodes (Casson, 2002, p.34).

Full text citation at the end of the assignment:

Casson, Lionel. Libraries in the Ancient World. Yale UP, 2002, p. 34.

Including full-text citations and forgetting in-text citations

What goes together like peanut butter and jelly? Peas and carrots? Chips and salsa? Let’s give it up for the beautiful duo of in-text and full-text citations. Where there’s one, there has to be the other. Unfortunately, students and scholars sometimes forget to include the total package in their work. Many are guilty of including only full text citations at the end of a project. While that’s helpful, that’s only half the battle.

In-text and parenthetical citations are found in the body of a project, next to a direct quote or paraphrase. They provide readers with a quick glimpse as to who created the original idea, when it was created, and sometimes the page number, depending on the citation style being used. Readers can quickly see the origin of the quote or paraphrased information, and continue reading the research paper, without disturbing the natural flow of the writing.

The in-text citation in the research paper corresponds with the full citation at the end of the assignment.

Here’s an example of an MLA citation in the body of a project :

In the beginning of the novel, the reader is made aware that the father’s business is somewhat corrupt, when young Tabby shares, “Daddy likes to have business talks outdoors, away from prying ears” (Egan 32).

The full MLA citation at the end of the assignment looks like this:

Egan, Jennifer. Manhattan Beach, Simon & Schuster, 2017.

Remember, if you include a full citation at the end of the project, there should be a brief citation in the actual text of the paper. And vice versa. Always include both. Don’t leave one citation without its trusty old friend.

Next time you’re prepping for research paper, keep these pesky plagiarism villains at bay. Being accused of plagiarism is pretty embarrassing, but it’s 100% preventable.

When your research is complete, don’t forget to run your writing assignment through a plagiarism checker, like the one you can find right here on BibMe Plus! This will help you not miss a citation or accidentally pick up text from your research. You can also check your assignment for grammar errors like a misspelled pronoun, incorrect subject-verb agreement, an uncapitalized proper noun, and more!

The Four Kinds of Plagiarism a Plagiarism Checker Can Catch

You’ve probably heard from your teacher that plagiarizing can lead to serious academic consequences. Plagiarism is the act of copying or including information from someone else’s work in your own paper without giving that person proper credit. Thankfully, there are tools available to help you make sure you haven’t committed plagiarism, such as the plagiarism checker located right here on BibMe.

So what kinds of plagiarism can these tools catch? Read on for some details and tips.

1) Copy and pasted sections

Students frequently copy information from an online source and paste it into a draft of their paper. Sometimes this is done on purpose, but it can also be an accident, as the student may just want to use the snippet for organizational or research purposes. The problem is, it becomes very easy to forget to remove, change, or cite sources before handing in the paper. Plagiarism checkers, however, can detect this type of plagiarism, whether it was intentional or not.

2) Uncited quotes

Quotes are frequently used as evidence for an argument in research or literary analysis papers. What can be tricky, however, is remembering to properly cite each quote, no matter how small. It can be easy to forget to write these down, and a plagiarism checker is a great resource to check for any missing citations near quotation marks in your paper.

3) Uncited links

Websites can be great places to start research on a topic, giving you a wealth of information almost instantaneously. Be mindful that you can’t just copy a link into your paper as a reference, however. These do not count as proper citations, and must be formatted correctly in MLA style, APA, or any other format your teacher asks for. Plagiarism checkers can flag these links and suggest that you create a citation for them.  

4) Accidental

Not all plagiarism is deliberate. Often students simply forget to include proper citations, or they mistakenly include copied text in their paper. These accidents can unfortunately be very harmful to your grade and academic record. Thankfully, plagiarism checkers can be a second line of defense, along with careful note-taking so you don’t lose track of sources.

Want to check your paper for possible plagiarism? Check out the Plagiarism and Grammar Checker on BibMe! This fantastic tool is a student’s best friend, as it can help to check for instances of plagiarism, provide instant grammar improvement suggestions, and let you add any forgotten citations directly into your paper.

Wrapping up a paper? Try BibMe’s grammar and plagiarism check!

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