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Understanding the Different Types of Plagiarism

It is not entirely surprising that many modern students are concerned about their written work or, more precisely, the authenticity of their written work. There are a lot of people who do not like writing or are not very good at it. In fact, there are a lot who find it extremely difficult to write an absolutely perfect essay when all they have to start with is a topic, and possibly one they do not know much about. Indeed, even many people who enjoy writing and are very good at it feel concerned about the possibility of plagiarism since this problem is very rife in today’s hi-tech world. 

This article talks about plagiarism and describes the main types. It is imperative you understand and avoid all of these types, especially when you want to be sure of an original paper that meets the strict requirements of even the most eagle-eyed professors or instructors.    

Plagiarism – The Direct Type

Plagiarism of the direct type is the practice of copying blocks of another person’s work without attempting to cite or reference the rightful source or without citing or referencing the rightful source in an adequate manner. Plagiarism of this type is usually very detectable by professors, editors, writers, and by most plagiarism detection programs. In most of the cases that concern this form of plagiarism, the charge is that it is the unfair or unethical use of another person’s materials. The consequences of this practice are usually negative and undesirable.  

Plagiarism of the Self-Imposed Variety

This type of plagiarism usually happens in cases where a writer uses (or reuses) a text they previously wrote when trying to create a “new” one. For example, a paper you wrote at high school is not suitable for a college course because the writing and academic levels are different. Furthermore, it is not an acceptable practice to use the same paper for different courses or subjects unless, of course, a professor permits this. 

Plagiarism of the Puzzle Variety

This type of plagiarism can occur where a writer uses a number of phrases from a variety of sources without citing or without correctly citing them. It also applies in cases where the writer changes the structure of different sentences, or the meaning of sentences, or gives synonyms rather than providing the original phrases from the text they were taken from.   

Plagiarism of the Accidental or Unintentional Variety

This type of plagiarism is exactly what it says it is i.e. it happens accidently or unintentionally. If you are to avoid plagiarism of this type, you need to understand how to cite sources correctly and accurately. If you select sources from various places but you do not mention these or do not mention them in the correct way, it is almost certain that these sources can be classified as plagiarism. It is very important to understand that if you do not know how to cite a source or how to cite it properly, this lack of knowledge does remove the responsibility for plagiarism from you. This is why you should learn about citation and how to correctly use sources, especially if you want to achieve the best possible grades by ensuring every paper you submit is an original masterpiece.

Plagiarism is Serious and Should be Avoided

It is probably fair to say that plagiarism can be roughly divided into the intentional and unintentional varieties even though there may be different circumstances within each category. It is also probably fair to say that most people know that plagiarism is a serious matter and that it is taken very seriously in the academic world. In fact, students can expect to be severely penalized if they are caught plagiarizing and, in the worst-case scenario, they may even be expelled from a school, college, or university. Additionally, such accusations can cause acute embarrassment to a student, dent their confidence, and leave them unable to face their tutors and peers without at least some feeling of shame. Therefore, avoiding plagiarism should be a top priority for every student.

Avoiding Intentional Plagiarism 

Knowing what plagiarism is and how to identify it, and knowing why it is frowned upon in colleges and universities, is not sufficient. It is paramount to understand how to avoid it in the first place. Instances of intentional plagiarism are the easiest ones to avoid. Essentially, if you buy an essay or paper off the Internet, copy whole sections from an article, book, from the web, from a fellow student, or from any source without acknowledgement, this practice is classified as plagiarism. The temptation to plagiarize can be very great if you are short of time, worried about your academic performance, or unsure about an assignment’s requirements. The advice in these situations is simple. Do not do it. The truth is that you will not be solving the problems you have already got through plagiarism. Instead, you will be creating larger ones for yourself if you resort to plagiarism. Almost without exception, the price of being caught plagiarizing is much higher than writing a second-rate paper or submitting a paper late.

Avoiding Unintentional Plagiarism         

Undoubtedly, accidental or unintentional plagiarism can have equally serious consequences so an equal effort should be made to avoid any instances of these. It does not matter whether you meant to plagiarize someone else’s ideas or texts or not. The responsibility for doing so rests fairly and squarely with you. Whether one belongs to the academic world or not, every individual should treat the written work and ideas of other people in exactly the same way they would treat another person’s other property – with respect. This same principle applies whether an act of plagiarism is accidental or intentional. The following are the best ways to avoid plagiarism, whether it results from ignorance, carelessness, or uncertainty.

  • Understand the mechanics of writing a paper – know what you are doing.
  • Adhere to an accepted and systematic research methodology. For instance, citing and referencing are the most effective methods for avoiding plagiarism. If you have been instructed to use one of the common citation styles, e.g., APA, Chicago, or MLA, or a style used by your academic institution, follow the rules in the style guide. A correct citation usually includes such information as an article or book’s title, author’s name, date of publication, year of publication, and similar.
  • Make a note of all reference materials and their sources while you are researching.

This essentially means that if you clearly understand the question you are attempting to answer, understand the information you are building upon, and make clear and concise notes as you go along, it is a lot easier to use source material correctly and, ultimately, end up with a successful text. 

In the event you still feel confused about what does or does not constitute plagiarism, ask your tutor or professor. It is much better to seek clarification before you write a paper than to wait for a tutor to tell you that they found plagiarism in your paper. Do not forget that once you submit a paper, you are responsible for the content in that paper, including any instances where sources are misused.