What Is Plagiarism and How to Avoid It in Academic Writing

What Is Plagiarism and How to Avoid It in Academic Writing

Working on your college assignment and the only thoughts in your head are What happens if I plagiarize? What is considered to be plagiarism? What are the types of  plagiarism? How to avoid plagiarism in a research paper? How to avoid self plagiarism?  

Read  the article to find answers to all these questions and learn how to avoid plagiarism and create an original work.

What is plagiarism?

So, what is it? Plagiarism is taking someone’s ideas or words and presenting them as your own. It is an ethical issue that is strictly punished in academic establishments. In general, plagiarism is perceived as intellectual property theft. The most lenient punishment for plagiarizing is receiving an F for your work, and the most strict one is being expelled from the university. Thus, plagiarism is a serious issue, which should be avoided in academic papers.


What are the 4 types of plagiarism

Have you ever been accused  of plagiarizing? The situation when you have written the whole paper by yourself but the professor has not accepted your work saying that it is plagiarized? Yeah, it happens so, even if it is an essay about yourself. It is called unintentional plagiarism (it’s also often referred to as accidental plagiarism). To avoid such unpleasant situations, you should know the existing types of plagiarism. In total, there are about 10 types of plagiarism. Here are four most common types of plagiarism.

        1.Direct plagiarism

Direct plagiarism occurs when you use a sentence or a passage of the authorized work word for word without mentioning the author. If you take the whole paragraph it is called copy-paste or verbatim plagiarism.

        2.Mosaic plagiarism

The essence of mosaic or patchwork plagiarism is that the writer takes ideas, paragraphs, or parts of authorized works and combines them together to create their own piece of work.

        3.Unintentional or accidental plagiarism

Unintentional plagiarism is the most unpleasant one. It often happens that the author has written the whole paper by their own, but the ideas in it have already been presented in other authorized works. How to avoid accidental plagiarism? Always check papers for plagiarism before submission. Other causes of accidental plagiarism are failure to properly cite sources or unreliable sources.

        4.Self plagiarism

  Self-plagiarism takes place when a student either accidentally or knowingly uses parts of their previously submitted work. Also, it happens when a student submits the same work in different courses. Yes, all the authorized works should be properly cited.

Tips on how to avoid plagiarism

We have collected the most effective tips that will help you avoid plagiarism and create a 100% original paper.

a thief stealing idea from a man

1.Understand what is considered plagiarism

First of all, to avoid plagiarism, you should understand what plagiarism is. Understand the notion of plagiarism and what are the possible outcomes of plagiarizing. Also, it is important to know the types of plagiarism, as unintentional or self plagiarism are common cases.

2.Use your own ideas

When completing the assignment, always try to focus on your homework to stay original and express your own ideas. That might seem to be the safest option. However, as they say “everything has already been invented”. Thus oftentimes, students are accused of plagiarism, which is accidental. How to avoid unintentional plagiarism? Improve your writing skills to be able to express the ideas using your own words. Also, check papers for plagiarism each time before the submission. 

3.Cite the used sources

Using other people's ideas is plagiarism. Whenever you use  some information from books, journals, lectures, or presentations, always make sure to mention the author. Note,  you should add in-text citation both in text and provide a list of all the used sources at the end of the paper.

4.Do not  misinterpret the ideas from the sources

Sometimes students try to misinterpret the information they taken from the source to use it in the paper. Also, the professor might request to use a particular source. In such situations, students often resort to overinterpretation or misinterpretation of the information and add that source in the in-text citation. Avoid such situations, as this is called fake in-text citation.

5.Understand what should be cited

If you think that it is not necessary to cite pictures or other pieces of art in your paper, you are mistaken. All a sculpture, a picture, and a music piece should be cited. These masterpieces have a name and an author, which should be specified. Regarding formatting, the requirements are different in APA, MLA, Harvard, and Oxford formatting style. But, most commonly, you need to specify the title/name, author, and year of publication or creation.

6.If you take something from the Internet, it should be cited

A common situation is to google something and to add that information to your work without any back thoughts. It’s a huge mistake, as it is a direct plagiarism. If the information is posted, it has an author and you should mention them. Mind that information online is not always reliable; thus, always double check it.

7.Use reliable sources

Even if you have cited all the sources properly, you should check their credibility, especially the secondary sources. It happens that the information in those sources is fake or non-existent. Also, they may rely on non-existent sources. Thus, use reliable sources. What are these? Credible sources always have an author. Considered online websites, those ending with .edu and .gov are always considered reliable.


Paraphrasing is one of the key techniques in writing. For sure, you complete your assignments based on the information you have received in class, on the internet, or somewhere else. You can’t invent it. But, you cannot just add in-text citations in every single sentence. For this reason, you should be able to paraphrase the information using your own words.

    Paraphrasing vs quoting

Quoting is mentioning someone else’s exact words in paper. When quoting, you should introduce that information using quotation marks, always specify the author and the page number. You cannot change the info in the quotation; it should be presented exactly the same way as in the original source. It is not recommended simply to add a quote without any explanation. It would mean that you don’t understand what you write about. Always comment on, explain, or provide your opinion regarding the information in the quote.

When you paraphrase, you explain the information from the source showing your understanding and viewpoint regarding the issue. Even if paraphrasing, always add an in-text citation.

9.Use plagiarism checker

The sure way to check your paper is to use plagiarism checkers. There are numerous free applications available today, such as Grammarly. Most of them, not only check your paper for plagiarism but also check grammar and stylistics.

What happens if you plagiarize

Plagiarism is an ethical issue, and the outcomes of plagiarizing depend on many factors. First of all, it’s the attitude of your professor or the educational institution to the intellectual property. There might be different outcomes in such cases

  1. You do  not get caught. The luckiest scenario is when you plagiarize and do not get caught. But, we would not get a chance in such issues, as it rarely happens so
  2. You get a warning. If your professor is a kindhearted person and believes that it was accidental plagiarism, you may receive a warning that it is an unacceptable attitude which should not repeat again
  3. You are asked to submit another work that is original.  In some cases, professors might not accept the work, but give you a chance to receive a good mark. They may ask you to complete another work that is original
  4. You get an F. Obviously, if you have not written that paper, then you do not get a mark for it
  5. You are expelled from college. The most unpleasant option is when your educational establishment is strict about intellectual property and considers plagiarism absolutely unacceptable. As a result, you might be expelled from your educational establishment.

Nor to face any of the above consequences, we recommend to follow our tips to avoid any type of plagiarism.

Bottom line

Plagiarism is a serious issue that may lead to rather unpleasant consequences. Follow the above recommendations and always make sure to check your papers before submission to avoid unintentional plagiarizing. If you want to be on the safe side and submit the original work, try online writing services. Our professional writers will complete a 100% original work based on your instructions. You will also be able to request an extra originality report to be sure.