6 types of plagiarism to avoid in 2020 [with examples]

The Oxford Dictionary defines plagiarism as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.” But plagiarism can have a deeper meaning than terms like copying and borrowing.

It is an act of plagiarism when you use someone else’s work without crediting the owner. And when you steal content from someone else original work and present it as your own is also a form of plagiarism.

Plagiarism is an act of theft, fraud. Lying about stealing someone else’s work is also considered plagiarism.

The ever-evolving pace of technology has made it possible to conduct an act of plagiarism. But the same technology helps to uncover acts of plagiarism too.

There are different types of plagiarism. And every type is distinctive. A reproduced content’s plagiarism depends on a specific circumstance. These circumstances can range from complete plagiarism to accidental plagiarism.

Types of Plagiarism

There are different types of plagiarism, and every type is a form of violation. Here we list the different types of plagiarism:

1. Complete plagiarism

This is one of the most serious types of plagiarism.

It involves copying the entire work of an author and passing it off as your own.

This is a severe case of plagiarism since there’s no attribution to the original author. For example, taking an entire work of an author and submitting it as your own work. You are committing plagiarism since you aren’t crediting the original author.

You are lying about your ownership of the work and deliberately copying from someone else’s work. Therefore, complete plagiarism is one of the most severe cases of plagiarism.

2. Copy Paste (Verbatim)

This type of plagiarism involves copying sections of work word-to-word. This is also known as direct plagiarism.

Here, one person copies a section of text from someone else’s work without making any changes and does not use quotation marks or attributions. He/she is passing off this work as his/her own.

This verbatim plagiarism is like complete plagiarism. But here, only a section of text is copied instead of the whole work. However, this type of plagiarism is still a serious offense.

Here’s a verbatim plagiarism example:

Source: “Powering the vehicle is a 2.4 liter inline-4 powering all four wheels. The motor churns out 189 bhp and is good enough to hit 0-60 in 7.3 seconds. The torque figures stand at 140nm and kick in at 2100 rpm. The motor is quite rev-happy and redlines at 7000 rpm.”

Plagiarized: This four-banger engine is good for its size and revs all the way up to 7000 rpm. The motor churns out 189 bhp and is good enough to hit 0-60 in 7.3 seconds. The torque figures stand at 140nm and kick in at 2100 rpm.


Here, you can clearly witness how the plagiarized content has copied a section from the source text. There’s a lack of use of quotations marks and no mention of a source either.

You can avoid this form of plagiarism by using proper quotation marks or mentioning the text’s source.

3. Mosaic plagiarism

Also known as patchwork plagiarism, this kind of plagiarism is a bit difficult to detect.

Mosaic plagiarism involves copying text from various sources and stitching them together to develop the new text.

This type of plagiarism sometimes involves slight paraphrasing while still maintaining the original work’s same structure and words.

Mosaic plagiarism takes more effort to detect because of its nature. This type of plagiarism can produce harm stealthily than copy-pasting from the source.

Here’s a mosaic plagiarism example:

Source 1: “This electric car had no real competition. Having the market to itself, the company created a niche for itself by being the only electric car in the world, offering a powerful motor and an excellent range. Not just that, the entire U.S. is covered with their superchargers. So, people with range-anxiety need not worry.”

Source 2: “This electric luxury sedan puts out 800 bhp to its wheel. Producing a whopping 1000nm, you can get wheelspin even in 4th gear. Because an electric motor powers it, the torque delivery is instantaneous. You can experience up to 1G during initial acceleration.”

Plagiarized: The company is famous for the production of electric vehicles. Their current inventory of vehicles includes a small sedan, SUV, and a full-fledged luxury sedan. Currently, they are the only company that offers a brawny electric motor an excellent range. Its motor puts out 800 bhp to its wheel and produces a whopping 1000nm. The torque delivery is instantaneous, and you can experience up to 1G during initial acceleration.


The plagiarized word borrowed content from two different sources with a bit of paraphrasing. There’s no use of quotations or mention of the source. The author needs to add a footnote with original sources for its content to avoid plagiarism.

4. Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is the most common type of plagiarism.

Here, the idea of the original content remains the same. However, the words are changed a bit and are used as one’s own. Even with the change in words, the work’s basic idea remains the same, and therefore, plagiarism occurs.

Altering a few sentences and changing a few words while maintaining the same structure and idea does not constitute original work.

Here’s a paraphrasing example:

Source: Nikon Corporation was established on 25 July 1917 when three leading optical manufacturers merged to form a comprehensive, fully integrated optical company known as Nippon Kōgaku Tōkyō K.K. Over the next sixty years, this growing company became a manufacturer of optical lenses (including those for the first Canon cameras) and equipment used in cameras, binoculars, microscopes, and inspection equipment. During World War II, the company operated thirty factories with 2,000 employees, manufacturing binoculars, lenses, bombsights, and periscopes for the Japanese military.


Plagiarized: Established on 25th July 1917, the company – Nikon corporation - took form when three major optical manufacturers unified to form a completely integrated company. The company was called Nippon Kōgaku Tōkyō K.K., which manufactured optical lenses for various equipment, majorly in cameras, for the following six decades. Nikon kept its thirty factories ran by 2000 employees functioning during the second world war. The company used this operation to produce binoculars, lenses, bombsights, and periscopes for the Japanese military.


Even with adequate paraphrasing, the basic idea utilizes the source. The lack of acknowledgment and quotation marks constitutes this work for plagiarism.

Eliminating this type of plagiarism will need the work to mention the source of the work. For example:

According to Wikipedia, Nikon Corporation’s history is as follows:

The author can also make use of footnotes to acknowledge the original source.

5. Self-plagiarism (Duplicate Content)

This type of plagiarism accounts for reusing your already submitted work. Even when it is your own work, presenting it as new information in another work accounts for dishonesty.

Reusing significant portions of your old work without attributions or acknowledging your original work constitutes for self-plagiarism.

You are misleading your audience when you present work with self-plagiarism.

Examples of self-plagiarism by students:

  • Submitting a paper which you have already submitted in another class

  • Using blocks of text from your work in your new work

  • Reusing ideas and content from older work without citing the original source

Examples of self-plagiarism by academics:

  • A record from a previous study used without notifying the readers

  • Submitting uncited manuscripts containing data from older work for publication

Avoiding self-plagiarism involves citing the original source of your work.

6. Accidental plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism occurs when a person fails to ignore the need to acknowledge the sources. Misquoting sources, unattributed sources, and unintentional paraphrasing in the form of using similar sentence structures and words constitute for accidental plagiarism.

Even when it’s unintentional, accidental plagiarism is subject to consequences, like other types of plagiarism.

Avoiding accidental plagiarism involves citing the right sources.

Plagiarism can take many forms

Make sure your content is plagiarism-free to avoid any kind of penalties and consequences.

Stay original to avoid any form of plagiarism. When using other works, make sure you are citing the right sources, acknowledging the source, and using footnotes to let people know that it is sourced content.