What are the different types of Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the unethical act of using another person's work or ideas without proper acknowledgement or citation. While these are high-profile examples, it's important to note that plagiarism can have serious consequences for anyone, whether they're students, researchers, or writers. It's always important to cite sources correctly and use a plagiarism checker to ensure the work you submit is your own original content. Different types of plagiarism include:

Direct Plagiarism

Direct Plagiarism

Direct plagiarism is when an individual intentionally presents someone else's work as their own, word-for-word, without giving credit to the original source. This is considered a serious breach of academic ethics, not just because it signifies a lack of original work, but also because it discredits the work of the original author.

Example: A student copies a paragraph from an online encyclopedia directly into their assignment without citing the source or using quotation marks.

"Direct plagiarism is the word-for-word transcription of a section of someone else’s work, without attribution and without quotation marks. The deliberate plagiarism of someone else's work is unethical, academically dishonest, and grounds for disciplinary actions, including expulsion."

In 2006, Harvard University sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan was accused of direct plagiarism when her novel "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" was found to contain several passages identical to two novels by Megan McCafferty. Despite Viswanathan's claim that the similarities were unintentional, her book contract was cancelled due to this incident.

Paraphrasing Plagiarism

Direct Plagiarism

Paraphrasing plagiarism occurs when someone slightly rephrases another person's work, yet keeps the original ideas and themes, and does not cite the original source. It is still considered plagiarism, even if you're not copying the work verbatim.

Example: A researcher reads an article and then writes the concepts and results using their own words but fails to cite the original article.

"When you put information into your own words by summarizing or paraphrasing, you must still cite the original author or researcher and the date of publication. You are also encouraged to provide a page or paragraph number."

CNN host Fareed Zakaria was suspended in 2012 for plagiarizing sections of a New Yorker article for his column in Time Magazine. Zakaria did not copy the text verbatim but reworded the original ideas without citation. He later apologized, citing a lapse in judgment.


Self Plagiarism

Self-plagiarism occurs when someone reuses their previously published work in a new context without acknowledging it. While it may seem odd to think about plagiarizing oneself, it's considered ethically problematic as it presents old work as new, which can mislead readers or instructors about the originality of the current work.

Example: An author takes a chapter from one of their published books and republishes it in a new book as an entirely new chapter without acknowledging the original source.

"Republishing one's own previously published work as new is considered self-plagiarism... the APA publication manual (7th ed.) advises authors to fully disclose if a paper or parts of a paper have been used before and if so to cite the previous work."

Jonah Lehrer, a science journalist, was caught in a self-plagiarism scandal in 2012 when he reused content from his own previous articles in articles for The New Yorker. As a result, he had to resign from his position at the magazine.

Mosaic Plagiarism (or patchwriting)

Mosaic Plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism involves borrowing phrases from a source without using quotation marks, or finding synonyms for the author's language while keeping to the same general structure and meaning of the original. This may be unintentional, but it's still considered plagiarism.

Example: A writer takes sentences from an article, changes a few words or phrases, and incorporates them into their own piece without citing the original source.

"Mosaic Plagiarism occurs when a student borrows phrases from a source without using quotation marks, or finds synonyms for the author's language while keeping to the same general structure and meaning of the original. Sometimes called 'patch writing,' this kind of paraphrasing, whether intentional or not, is academically dishonest and punishable."

In 2014, BuzzFeed's politics editor, Benny Johnson, was fired after 41 instances of mosaic plagiarism were found in his work. Johnson had been using phrases and sentences from other sources without proper citation.

Accidental Plagiarism

Accidental Plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism occurs when someone unintentionally fails to cite their sources, misquotes their sources, or paraphrases a source too closely. Even though it's not intentional, it can still have serious consequences.

Example: A student mistakenly believes that a statement is common knowledge and doesn't cite the source from which they learned it.

"Many people think of plagiarism as copying another's work, or borrowing someone else's original ideas. But terms like 'copying' and 'borrowing' can disguise the seriousness of the offense...Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided by citing sources. Simply acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed, and providing your audience with the information necessary to find that source, is usually enough to prevent plagiarism."

In 2019, The New York Times published an article by a high-profile journalist that accidentally included a sentence from an uncredited source. The Times quickly added a correction and an apology for the oversight to the online version of the article.