The Most Common Types of Plagiarism

March 25, 2022

Last Updated on March 25, 2022


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Plagiarism is without exaggeration the plague of college life. It has grown only stronger with the spread of IT technologies, the Internet and the ease of access to the information, and the associated temptation to copy-paste the content. Plagiarism is not as simple a phenomenon as many think. It has numerous facets and manifestations, in other words – there are plenty of ways to plagiarize! Knowing them is useful, and here we would like to analyze the 6 most common types of plagiarism. 

  • Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is one of the most effective types of plagiarism. It stipulates reading the original source or piece of information, understanding and analyzing it, and presenting the key ideas and facts with your own words and interpretation. Paraphrasing is very hard to spot for AI-based online plagiarism checkers, as they primarily look for similarities in words, phrases, and sentences. Luckily, these tools are not powerful enough yet to spot this type of plagiarism. However, teachers and professors in colleges can have no difficulty distinguishing between paraphrasing and accusing one of plagiarism. 

  • Mosaic

Mosaic is literally changing the order of phrases in sentences and paragraphs. It may also mean changing the order of separate words within sentences – a more sophisticated and time-consuming undertaking. This is a less laborious type of plagiarism than paraphrasing and, thus, is much riskier. The thing is that both professors and online plagiarism checkers can easily spot mosaic types of plagiarism. There are plenty of online tools, which are powerful enough to spot plagiarism within 3-4 words patched together. 

Also, there are online tools, which use some basic AI capabilities to paraphrase and swap words in a given text, so that the meaning remains the same or almost the same. It is advised to use grammar checks after using such online tools.

  • Intentional plagiarism

This type of plagiarism occurs when someone steals others’ works on purpose. With intentional plagiarism, students get punished most severely. In most cases, intentional plagiarism is not masked with any paraphrasing, mosaic, or other plagiarism techniques. When someone is making intentional plagiarism, they know perfectly what they are doing and how illegal that is. Also, it is very hard to detect this type of plagiarism as students take all the necessary precautions and mask their plagiarism by all available means and techniques. Intentional plagiarism is always opposed to unintentional one.

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  • Unintentional plagiarism

Usually, this type of plagiarism happens when someone doesn’t have an open intention to commit plagiarism. In this case, one may not have the skills and knowledge on how to quote the original source properly, or even that the borrowed information constitutes (can be classified as) plagiarism in general. To avoid unintentional plagiarism, we advise learning the correct rules of citing other sources of information in your works. There are several referencing styles widely used in academia and journalism, such as AP, MLA, Chicago, and others.

  • Verbatim

Verbatim is typing or copy-pasting others’ words, sentences, and whole paragraphs and chapters in your paper. This is the easiest to detect kind of plagiarism, which should be avoided as much as possible. Even if you try to mask verbatim plagiarism by changing separate words and swapping the order of sentences, it is still very easy for the readers or IT-based tools to spot unoriginal content. Never use verbatim plagiarism in your papers, that’s the main recommendation.

  • Total plagiarism

This one is the most straightforward – if you take someone else’s work entirely and present it as yours, that is called total plagiarism. This is the most common type of plagiarism, often used in high schools and in the first and second college years. Surprisingly, this type of plagiarism is the most difficult to detect, as usually students take other’s works, which have not been uploaded online yet, thus, making them impossible to be detected by the online plagiarism checkers.  

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