Source-based Plagiarism - Why is it so bad for copywriter

Source-based plagiarism occurs when a writer uses sources without proper attribution, misrepresents the original source, or fabricates sources. This damages a copywriter's credibility and can lead to legal consequences.

By Stephan Spencer - Published on - 2024-07-02 , Last-Mod: 2024-07-03

Reviwed by Stephan Spencer

Table of Contents

What is Source-Based plagiarism?

Source-based plagiarism happens when you use information, ideas or materials from a source (like a book, website or article) in your own work, but you don't properly credit where that information originally came from. This can happen if they forget to mention a source, name a source that isn't real, or use the wrong source.

Sometimes, people try to make their references look better by adding more citations or making up sources. Whether it's on purpose or by accident, messing with your sources is a serious problem. If you want to create your own work honestly, you have to give credit where it's due by citing your sources correctly.

Examples of source based plagiarism

Here are some specific examples of source-based plagiarism:

  • Copying and pasting a paragraph word-for-word from a website like Wikipedia without citing the source or using quotation marks.
  • Taking a few sentences or a passage from a published book or academic journal and incorporating it into your own work without proper attribution or quotation marks.
  • Using several sentences or key ideas from an online news report in your writing without citing the source or putting the text in quotations.
  • Transcribing and using significant portions of the script or spoken content from an educational video or recorded lecture without citing the source.

Fact: The worst type of source-based plagiarism is when people make up information, like study results or numbers. This is extremely misleading and can be really dangerous, can even be harmful in the case of medical content.

Why is Source based plagiarism so bad for copywriters?

Source-based plagiarism is especially harmful for copywriters. They are hired to produce original content that provides value to their clients and audiences. Copying content is unethical, breaches copyright laws, and can lead to legal consequences like lawsuits or penalties for both the copywriter and their client. 

It damages a copywriter's reputation and makes it hard to get future work. Search engines like Google can easily detect plagiarized content, which can harm a client's website rankings and visibility. This defeats the purpose of hiring a copywriter, as you all know original content and high quality content is very important for SEO and organic traffic. 

Plagiarism also shows a lack of professionalism, creativity, and effort from the copywriter. Clients hire copywriters for their unique perspectives, research abilities, and writing skills. By plagiarizing, copywriters fail to deliver the value they were hired for, deceiving their clients and undermining the trust in their professional relationship.

Why is this important to avoid source based plagiarism?

Source-based plagiarism means copying words, ideas or materials from a source like a book, website or article without giving proper credit to the original creator.

It's important to avoid this because:

  • In school and work, there are rules that say you must give credit to sources you use. Not doing so can get you in trouble.
  • Writers, artists, and others have ownership rights over their created works. Using their stuff without permission breaks these rights.
  • Readers need to know where information comes from to understand if it's true and accurate. Proper source credit provides this.
  • It prevents original creators from getting the credit and recognition they deserve for their ideas and efforts.

Real life examples of plagiarism

How to avoid Source-Based plagiarism

Source-based plagiarism refers to using words, ideas, or materials directly from a source (book, website, journal, etc.) without properly citing or crediting that original source.

To avoid this type of plagiarism specifically:

Quoting Sources

  • Use quotation marks around any word-for-word text copied from a source
  • Provide an in-text citation immediately after the quote
  • Include the full source reference in your bibliography/reference list

Paraphrasing Sources

  • Restate the idea from the source in your own words
  • Do not just swap out some words, you must rewrite the idea completely
  • Still provide an in-text citation to credit the original source

Using Data/Images/Media

  • Get permission if required to reproduce copyrighted visuals, data, etc.
  • Provide a caption or note citing the original source

Citing Sources Properly

  • Follow the specific citation style guides (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.)
  • Include all required elements for each source type
  • Be consistent with your citation formatting throughout

Manage Source Materials

  • Keep careful track of all sources used while researching
  • Use citation management software if permitted
  • Check sources again before submitting to ensure all are cited


Source-based plagiarism is a big problem for copywriters. It involves using information from other sources without giving credit. This is unethical, breaks copyright laws, and can lead to legal trouble. It damages the copywriter’s reputation and makes it hard to get more work. 

To avoid source-based plagiarism, it's essential to quote sources accurately, paraphrase responsibly, obtain permission for copyrighted materials, and cite sources properly according to specific style guidelines. 

By following these guidelines and being diligent in managing source materials, writers can maintain academic integrity and produce original work with confidence.