What is mosaic plagiarism - 7 Tips to prevent during scientific writing

Mosaic plagiarism is borrowing the ideas and opinions from an original source and a few verbatim words or phrases without crediting the original author. Mosaic plagiarism is a threat to academic integrity and learning.

By Stephan Spencer - Published on - 2024-06-26 , Last-Mod: 2024-06-28

Reviwed by Stephan Spencer

Table of Contents

Introduction to Mosaic Plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism happens when someone takes phrases, sentences, or ideas from different sources. Then combines them together into a new work without proper attribution. It looks like their own work, but it's actually a mix of borrowed material. This is similar to patchwork plagiarism but not exactly the same.

The key difference is that mosaic plagiarism tends to involve smaller fragments of text or ideas from multiple sources, while patchwork plagiarism may involve larger sections of text or ideas being copied and patched together with minimal changes.

What Are the Primary Forms of Mosaic Plagiarism?

About plagiarism, it occurs in the following two scenarios.

1. Using Single Source or one Author

When students copy from one place without saying where it's from, it's called mosaic plagiarism. They might take whole sentences or just parts, but they don't give credit to the person who originally wrote it.

2. Using Multiple Sources

This type of mosaic plagiarism is a bit complicated as it involves copying from several written sources to make one piece of writing. Some students take words from different places and put them together so they make sense. They make sure everything fits well, but do not cite the sources. This kind of copying can be hard to spot

Examples of Mosaic Plagiarism

Here are some examples of mosaic plagiarism:

  • A student writing a research paper on climate change takes sentences and phrases from multiple websites and academic papers, rearranges them, and presents the patchwork text as their own original work without citing the sources.
  • A novelist borrows descriptions, character traits, and plot elements from several published books in their genre, weaving them together into a "new" story without proper attribution.
  • A blogger creating a listicle post mixes and matches bullet points, statistics, and snippets of text from various online articles about the same topic, passing it off as an original compilation.
  • A songwriter pieces together lyrics by sampling different portions of lyrics from multiple existing songs without credit or permission.

Alarming Statistics

66% of 16,000 students from 31 prestigious U.S. universities have cheated at least once, says 1991 Rutgers University study.

12% of those reported themselves as regular cheaters. This means nearly seven out of ten students cheat, and at least one of those cheats all the time!

Cheating on campus increased an estimated 744% from 1993 to 1997, says University of California-Berkeley officials.

Why is this important to avoid mosaic plagiarism?

Mosaic plagiarism is a tricky way of cheating. It means taking little pieces from many different sources and mixing them together into your own work. Which makes it harder to detect. Doing mosaic plagiarism is like stealing someone else's hard work and ideas. It goes against being honest and giving credit where it's due. 

Schools have strict rules against any kind of cheating like this. When writers plagiarize, even a little bit, it can lead to big problems. 

  • Their work might get thrown out completely. 
  • Their reputation could also get really damaged. 
  • No one will trust them after that. 

Teachers use different tools to check for mosaic plagiarism. The tools can spot patterns and small matches across lots of published writings. So it's really hard to get away with.

Real life examples of mosaic plagiarism

7 Tips to prevent mosaic plagiarism during scientific writing 

To avoid mosaic plagiarism, follow these simple tips:

  1. While researching, take detailed notes and clearly mark which ideas are yours and which come from other sources. This helps you keep track of what needs to be cited.
  2. When using exact phrases or sentences from a source, put them in quotation marks and include a citation. This shows which parts are directly copied.
  3. When you paraphrase, rewrite the information in your own words and sentence structure. Simply changing a few words isn't enough. Always cite the original source.
  4. Whenever you use someone else's ideas, data, or words, give them credit with a proper citation. This applies to both paraphrasing and direct quotes.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the required citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago) for your field. Proper citation style ensures you give appropriate credit.
  6. After writing, review your work to ensure all sources are correctly cited. Pay special attention to sections where you paraphrase or summarize.
  7. Check your paper for plagiarism before publishing to make sure it doesn’t contain any unintended mosaic plagiarism.


Mosaic plagiarism is when someone takes bits and pieces from different sources and puts them together as if it's their own work, without giving credit to the original authors. It's like cheating and can cause big problems, like getting kicked out of school or damaging a person's reputation. To avoid it, it's important to add your own ideas, always mention where you got information from, and check your work for plagiarism before turning it in. Being honest and giving credit where it's due is key to doing good work and earning trust.

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