Different plagiarism types with examples

We have defined the 20 common plagiarism types below, each with examples, all potentially leading to disciplinary actions depending on the severity.

By Stephan Spencer - Published on - 2024-06-10 , Last-Mod: 2024-06-28

Reviwed by Stephan Spencer

Table of Contents

Introduction to plagiarism

Plagiarism is stealing or taking someone else's work and claiming it's yours. It's not just about copying exact words. Plagiarism can also occur when someone takes another person's ideas and simply rewords them without proper credit.

There are many ways and so many types of plagiarism. 

Merriam-Webster: America's Most Trusted Dictionary defines plagiarism as “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source.”

Your school and teachers may have strict rules about plagiarism. It's a serious issue because it could lead to losing marks, getting into trouble, or even being expelled from school. To avoid it, it's important to know what plagiarism is and always give credit when using someone else's work. 

Why plagiarism should be avoided?

Avoiding plagiarism is important for several reasons. First, it's dishonesty towards your work. It's not fair to the person who originally created the stuff you're copying. Imagine if you put a lot of effort into drawing or writing a story, and then someone else claimed they did it or took the credit. That would feel really bad.

Another reason to avoid plagiarism is you don’t learn anything, your learning and improving process will stop. In school and work, people want to know what you can do, not what someone else can do. 

It's also against the rules in most schools and workplaces, and you could get in big trouble if you get caught. So, it's always best to do your own work and give credit when you use their ideas or words.

20 most common types of plagiarism

1. Complete plagiarism

Complete plagiarism is the worst kind because it's like lying about who did the work. Imagine if you took someone's entire paper and said you wrote it - that wouldn't be fair for that person. 

Complete plagiarism occurs when someone submits an entire work that is entirely copied from another source without any original content or attribution. It's like claiming someone else's work as your own.

Example of complete plagiarism

Alex who has to write an essay. Instead of doing their own research and writing their own thoughts, Alex finds an essay online written by someone else. They copy the entire essay and submit it as their own work without changing anything or giving credit to the original author. 

2. Direct plagiarism 

Direct plagiarism, also known as verbatim plagiarism, involves copying someone else's work word-for-word without giving credit. It's like taking sentences or paragraphs from a book or the internet and putting them into your own work without acknowledgement. It's wrong and can lead to serious consequences.

Example of direct plagiarism

A student copied several sentences word-for-word from a website for her book report without giving credit. She directly copied the sentences into her report and acted like she wrote them herself. That’s direct plagiarism.

3. Patchwork plagiarism 

Patchwork plagiarism happens when someone copies from different places and puts the pieces together. They might change some words or mix up ideas to make it look like their own work.

It's tricky because it seems original, but it's actually using a lot of other people's work. It mostly happens when someone is trying to meet a word count or deadline and doesn't want to do their own research or generate original ideas.

Example of Patchwork plagiarism

Jake had to write a paper, but he didn't do it himself. Instead, he took bits and pieces from different writings. He copied a paragraph from one book, some sentences from a website, and a few more sentences from another book. Then, put all these parts together into one new paper and acted like he wrote it all himself.

4. Paraphrasing plagiarism

Paraphrasing plagiarism occurs when a writer takes someone else's work and only changes a few words or phrases. It's a common type of plagiarism that some students might not realize is wrong. But if you're using someone else's idea in your writing without giving them credit, even if you're using your own words, it's still plagiarism. 

Survey: Frequency of paraphrasing in student work without citation.

Source: https://academicintegrity.org/resources/facts-and-statistics

Plagiarism isn't just about copying words; it also involves taking someone else's ideas. Even if you translate a piece of text from another language without saying where it came from, it's like paraphrasing plagiarism. You're still using someone else's ideas, even if you change the language. 

Example of paraphrasing plagiarism

Samantha found an article online and decided to rewrite the information in her own words making some changes and put it in her report without citing the source. This is paraphrasing plagiarism.

5. Source-based Plagiarism

Source-based plagiarism happens when a writer uses sources incorrectly. This can include citing only one source for a fact supported by many, using a secondary source but not citing the original, or citing sources incorrectly, incompletely, or even ones that don't exist. 

These mistakes mislead readers and hurt credibility. Sometimes, the writer might cite sources correctly but still present them in a misleading way.

Example of Source-based plagiarism

Tom read a magazine article about solar energy. He wrote his science homework, repeating the main points from the article without saying where he got them. Tom pretended the facts were his own when he got them from the article. This is source-based plagiarism.

6. Aggregator plagiarism

Aggregator plagiarism is when you copy someone's work exactly and give them credit. But the problem is, it's unclear how much you can copy without it being wrong.

Some people use other people's work for themselves, even if they mention the source. It’s tricky because some people think it's okay, while others say it's wrong. This is still plagiarism, especially if the original author doesn't benefit or agree to it.

Examples of Aggregator plagiarism

Sarah is writing a research paper about famous inventors. She finds a website that collects information on different inventors. Without mentioning the website, she copies paragraphs about Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Nikola Tesla for her paper. This is aggregator plagiarism.

7. Self-plagiarism

Self-plagiarism, also called auto-plagiarism, happens when someone uses their own old work without mentioning they already published it before. This could be copying different parts of text or ideas from their past papers or articles without acknowledgement.

It's not fair because it can confuse people into thinking the work is new when it's actually old. That's why it's not allowed in academic writing. Rewording old ideas and passages is not plagiarism as long as you have permission to do so and you cite your previous work to make their origins clear.

Examples of Self-plagiarism

Mark wrote a story last year. This year, he turned in the same story for a creative writing assignment in a different class without informing the teacher. Even though he wrote it himself, reusing it without acknowledgment is considered self-plagiarism.

8. Accidental plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism happens when someone unintentionally uses someone else's work without giving them credit. It can occur because of carelessness or misunderstanding about how to properly cite sources. 

44% of researchers from major scientific institutions believe that unintentional plagiarism is not a “crime.”

Example of accidental plagiarism

Emma is writing a research paper and finds some great information on a website. She forgets to note down where she got it from. Later, when she includes that information in her paper, she doesn't realize she didn't properly cite the source. This is accidental plagiarism.

9. Hired Plagiarism

Hired plagiarism occurs when someone pays another person to write their work, you might think there’s nothing wrong with spending your money on someone else’s writing, but it’s still passing off someone else’s work as your own.

This is a serious form of academic dishonesty because it involves deception and misrepresentation of one's abilities and efforts.

Example of hired plagiarism

A student, struggling with their term paper, hires a freelance writer online to complete the assignment. The student then submits the paper to their teacher, pretending it is their own work, thus receiving credit for work they did not do.

10. Deliberate Plagiarism

Deliberate plagiarism happens when a person knowingly uses another's words, ideas, or creations without giving proper credit, and claims them as their own. Unlike accidental plagiarism, which may occur from carelessness or ignorance of citation rules, deliberate plagiarism is a deliberate act of deception. 

This violation of ethics can result in serious consequences, such as legal action, academic penalties, and harm to one's reputation.

Example of deliberate plagiarism

For her homework, Sophia copied several paragraphs directly from a website and turned it in as her own work. She purposely presented someone else's writing as if she wrote it herself. Sophia knew she was cheating by copying the words of others without giving them credit. 

11. Incremental plagiarism

Incremental plagiarism involves adding quotes, passages, or excerpts from other works into your assignment without giving proper credit to the original source. Even if most of the text is your own, including any content from others without citation is still plagiarism. Sometimes, people do this unintentionally, but still it’s plagiarism.

Example of incremental plagiarism

Tom had to write a report. Instead of doing his own work, he took little pieces from many different books and websites. He copied a sentence from one source, a paragraph from another, and a few lines from somewhere else. Tom combined all these small, copied bits together into his report without giving credit to the real authors. 

12. Borrowed Plagiarism

Borrowed plagiarism happens among students who share assignments or copy each other's answers. Even though the work is borrowed, submitting it as your own is considered plagiarism because it misrepresents the true authorship. 

Many people engage in borrowed plagiarism without realizing it, but it's still unethical because it involves passing off someone else's work as your own.

Example of borrowed plagiarism

Sarah had to write a story for class. Her friend Emily had already written a great story. Sarah copied large parts of Emily's story and passed it off as her own work. She "borrowed" Emily's writing without permission or giving her credit. This is borrowed plagiarism - taking someone else's work and presenting it as your own.

13. Collaboration Plagiarism

Collaboration plagiarism happens when people work together on a project but don't give credit to everyone involved. This can happen when one person does most of the work but others take credit, or when everyone submits similar work without saying they worked together.

The idea of collaborating is encouraged in academic settings, but when a group works on it, it’s unethical, especially when it’s handed in with only one name on it.

Example of collaboration plagiarism

Sarah and Tom worked together on essays but submitted them as their own individual work without acknowledging their collaboration or crediting each other's writing. This is collaboration plagiarism.

14. Outline Plagiarism

Outline plagiarism is when someone copies the structure or main points instead of the whole article of another person without giving credit. It’s like when you decide to copy an article’s entire outline, including its headings and title, but without copying the inner text. This misrepresentation of the work's structure constitutes plagiarism.

Example of outline plagiarism

Emily is assigned a report on climate change. Instead of making her own plan, she copies the headings and main points from a website without citing the source. She presents this as her own outline. This is outline plagiarism—copying someone else's structure without giving credit.

15. Bibliographic Plagiarism

Bibliographic plagiarism happens when someone lists sources in their work, but either makes them up or doesn't list them correctly. A bibliography is a list included by researchers at the end of their papers, listing the sources that they used to write. 

This is misleading because it makes it seem like they did more research than they actually did. It's not fair to other researchers and can get them in trouble.

Example of bibliographic plagiarism

A student named Alex is writing an essay on renewable energy. He wants to seem well-researched, so he lists books and articles in his bibliography that he never actually read. When the teacher checks, they find out Alex made up these sources. This is bibliographic plagiarism—pretending to use sources you didn't actually read or use.

16. Global plagiarism

Global plagiarism is when someone takes an entire work or a significant portion of it from someone else and presents it as their own, without any changes or proper credit. 

It happens commonly in schools and colleges when students are too lazy to do their own homework, so they get someone else to do it.

Example of global plagiarism

John is struggling with his assignment, so he asks his friend Lisa for help. Lisa gives him her old project, and John submits it as his own without any changes. This is global plagiarism because John is presenting someone else's work as if it's his own, without giving credit to Lisa.

17. Secondary Plagiarism

Secondary plagiarism occurs when someone uses information or ideas from a secondary source, such as a review or summary, without properly citing both the original and secondary sources. 

Many writers or students think they can get away with secondary plagiarism by citing only the main source. But, it's still plagiarism if you use another person's work without giving them credit.

Example of secondary plagiarism

Sarah is writing a paper about global warming. She reads a summary article about the effects of climate change on wildlife and includes some information from it in her paper. However, Sarah doesn't mention the original study that the summary is based on. This is secondary plagiarism because she's using information from the second source.

18. Bluffing Plagiarism

Bluffing plagiarism is when someone pretends to have used and cited sources that they did not actually use. They might list fake references or include citations to works they never read, to make their work look more credible or well-researched. 

This is dishonest because it gives a false impression of thorough research and misleads readers.

Example of bluffing plagiarism

Imagine a student, Tom, is asked to write a report on the effects of social media on teenagers. Tom isn't familiar with the topic, so he copies a paragraph from a blog post without citing it. In his report, he presents this paragraph as his own analysis, even though he didn't come up with it. This is bluffing plagiarism because Tom is pretending he knows about the topic when he's really just copying someone else's work.

19. Inaccurate Authorship Plagiarism

Inaccurate authorship plagiarism happens when someone falsely claims authorship or credit for a work they did not contribute to, or when they fail to give proper credit to the actual contributors. 

This misrepresentation can occur in group projects, research papers, or any collaborative work, leading to unfair acknowledgment and distribution of credit. 

Example of inaccurate authorship plagiarism

A classmate, Sarah, did significant research on the development of the World Wide Web but isn't included as an author in the final report. You and your other group members take all the credit.

20. Mosaic plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism occurs when someone mixes phrases, ideas, or pieces of text from different sources into their own work without proper citation. 

They mix pieces from different sources with their own writing, making it tricky to spot. But it's still dishonest because they don't credit the original sources.

Example of mosaic plagiarism

John is writing a paper on climate change. Instead of using his own words, he takes short bits from different websites and mixes them in. And doesn't properly cite the sources he borrowed from.

Here are some recent findings regarding plagiarism

Universities and colleges all take plagiarism very seriously. In the United States, plagiarism is a violation of academic integrity. 

“A study by The Center for Academic Integrity found that almost 80% of college students admit to cheating at least once.” 

“One out of three high school students admitted that they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment”

Source: https://www.plagiarism.org/article/plagiarism-facts-and-stats

“In a survey of 24,000 students at 70 high schools, Donald McCabe (Rutgers University) found that 64 percent of students admitted to cheating on a test, 58 percent admitted to plagiarism and 95 percent said they participated in some form of cheating, whether it was on a test, plagiarism or copying homework.”

Source: https://myrbs.business.rutgers.edu/academic-integrity/students

For a more specific explanation of the different types of research misconduct, check out Turnitin’s infographic.

Consequences of plagiarism

The consequences of plagiarism can be personal, professional, ethical, and legal. With plagiarism detection tool available and in use, it becomes very easy to detect plagiarism. And if you're caught you should know the consequences.

1. Academic problems

Plagiarism in schools, colleges, and universities is a big deal. If you copy someone else's work, it's like cheating. You could fail your assignment or even get kicked out of school. Schools take it seriously because it's like stealing and goes against the rules. See Indiana University's Code.

Having a plagiarism record can make it hard to get into other schools. For teachers or researchers who plagiarize, they could lose their jobs and academic qualifications. It's a serious thing to do in the academic career. 

2. Legal problems

In US law, plagiarism is often covered by fraud, intellectual property, and copyright laws. If the original creator decides to take legal action, they can sue for copyright infringement. This means they can take you to court and ask for compensation for the damage caused by using their work without permission. 

A man who lied about his test scores to get into Harvard and copied essays to win scholarships and awards was sent to jail for two years

Some cases of plagiarism can also violate intellectual property laws, which protect the rights of creators. So, it's essential to always give credit to the original creators and avoid using their work without permission to stay out of legal trouble.

3. Professional problems

Plagiarism can have very serious consequences at work, no matter in which field you're employed. It can cost you your job, a promotion, a big project, or the respect of your co-workers. Plagiarism can cause professional problems because it damages your reputation and credibility. 

If your boss catches you plagiarizing, they might not trust you anymore and could even decide to degrade your position or fire you. It's important to be honest and do your own work to avoid these problems.

NBC News fired a reporter after finding that she had plagiarized content from other news sites in 11 of her articles.

The publication of The publication of a writer’s first novel was canceled when she admitted to plagiarizing some of its ideas. Ironically, an essay she wrote about the cancellation for Literary Hub contained plagiarism, too.

Tips to avoid plagiarism

Here are some tips to follow to avoid plagiarism:

  • Express your ideas in your own words instead of copying from others.
  • Use online tools to check your work for unintentional similarities with existing content.
  • Always cite your sources when using someone else's ideas, concepts, or information.
  • Write down information in your own words when researching to avoid copying verbatim.
  • Practice paraphrasing by rewriting information from sources in your own words while retaining the original meaning.
  • Accompany borrowed information with your own analysis or interpretation to demonstrate understanding.
  • Double-check factual information from multiple credible sources to ensure accuracy.
  • Use citation and referencing guidelines specified by your institution or discipline.
  • Get permission before reusing your own previously published work and cite it properly.
  • Before submitting, review your work to ensure proper citation and no unintentional plagiarism.

Frequently asked questions

What are the consequences of plagiarism?

The consequences of plagiarism can be severe and varied, including academic penalties, legal repercussions, and damage to one's professional reputation.

Is patchwork and mosaic plagiarism the same?

Patchwork plagiarism is like sewing different pieces of fabric together to make a quilt without saying where you got them. Mosaic plagiarism is like making a mosaic art piece by using tiny tiles from different places without giving credit.

Why should plagiarism be avoided?

Plagiarism should be avoided because it is dishonest, unfair to original creators, and can lead to serious consequences such as academic penalties and legal action.

What are the legal implications of plagiarism?

Plagiarism can violate copyright laws and intellectual property rights, potentially leading to legal action and financial penalties for the plagiarizer.

How can plagiarism be detected?

Plagiarism can be detected using various tools and methods, including plagiarism detection software, manual review by educators or employers, and comparison with original sources.