Types of plagiarism

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Do you remember the definition of plagiarism? It means taking credit for someone else’s work.

There are actually several different types of plagiarism – some types are severe, some more moderate – but all still plagiarism, and all subject to disciplinary action. This means when your teacher finds out you plagiarized, you might get a failing grade, suspension, expulsion, or some other punishment.

Before you think you’re so clever, your teacher would never find out you plagiarized, you need to know about plagiarism checkers.

A plagiarism checker is an online tool that compares your writing to millions of other papers and web pages, and issues a report if something looks like it could be plagiarism. While many teachers run their students’ papers through a plagiarism checker, you can also run your paper through before you submit it, to see if anything gets flagged.

If you’re interested in trying one yourself, check out the EasyBib plagiarism checker.

Now, let’s look at the different types of plagiarism, listed in order of most severe to more moderate:

Global plagiarism

What is global plagiarism?

This type of plagiarism means you took someone else’s complete work and submitted it as your own.

  • Maybe you found an essay online and just copy-pasted the whole thing.
  • Maybe you paid someone to write your paper for you (it doesn’t matter if you paid someone you know or if you bought a paper online).
  • Maybe you used your cousin’s old paper from 2 years ago, since he’s not going to need it anymore.

However you obtained this complete paper, it is not yours (not even if you paid good money for it), and if you submit is as your work, you are committing the most severe type of plagiarism.

Why is it the most severe type?

Because it involved the least amount of work from you, and because it is the most intentionally plagiarized. No one uses someone else’s entire paper “by mistake”.

Using someone else’s entire paper contributes absolutely nothing. You don’t get points for writing your name.

When people hear that a paper was plagiarized, this is often what they imagine. But this type of plagiarism is quite easy to detect and prove.

Teachers get to know their students’ writing, so if you submit a paper someone else wrote, it won’t “sound” like you at all (since it isn’t). A good teacher will detect that immediately.

Also, plagiarism checkers have access to an enormous amount of written work which it sifts through, looking for similarities. If you got your paper online, you will get caught.

Example of global plagiarism

In this example, notice that both versions are exactly the same, except for the name on the plagiarized version.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/projection

 

Global plagiarism
Original: What Is Projection?

Projection is the process of displacing one’s feelings onto a different person, animal, or object. The term is most commonly used to describe defensive projection—attributing one’s own unacceptable urges to another. The concept emerged from Sigmund Freud’s work in the 1890s.

Unconscious discomfort can lead people to attribute difficult feelings or impulses to someone else to avoid confronting them. Projection allows the difficult trait to be addressed without the individual fully recognizing it in themselves.

Plagiarism example: What Is Projection?

by Example Student

Projection is the process of displacing one’s feelings onto a different person, animal, or object. The term is most commonly used to describe defensive projection—attributing one’s own unacceptable urges to another. The concept emerged from Sigmund Freud’s work in the 1890s.

Unconscious discomfort can lead people to attribute difficult feelings or impulses to someone else to avoid confronting them. Projection allows the difficult trait to be addressed without the individual fully recognizing it in themselves.

 


Verbatim plagiarism

What is verbatim plagiarism?

This type of plagiarism means copy-pasting parts of other papers without using quotation marks to show they are exactly the same words, and without citing sources.

Verbatim plagiarism is similar to global plagiarism, except that instead of copying an entire paper, you only copy parts: maybe a section, or a paragraph, or a few sentences.

Did you know that it is completely legal and appropriate to copy-paste someone else’s writing? Yes, as long as you use quotation marks and cite the source.

Professional academics, researchers, and writers often use direct quotes from other papers because they want to respond to an idea, or because another writer made a point so well, they want to keep it as it is, or maybe they completely disagree with that point and want to show exactly what they disagree with.

However, they use quotes and citations.

Verbatim plagiarism is a serious type of plagiarism because again, you’re taking credit for someone else’s work. Maybe not the whole thing, but pieces of it. How much original work are you doing if you’re just swiping someone else’s writing? How much are you contributing your own ideas if you’re repeating someone else’s?

Example of verbatim plagiarism

In this example, the highlighted section is copy-pasted from the source but without quotation marks or citation. The part in the middle is the writer’s interpretation of what that first section means.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/projection

 

Verbatim plagiarism
Original: For example, a married man who is attracted to a female coworker might accuse her of flirting with him. A woman wrestling with the urge to steal might come to believe that her neighbors are trying to break into her home.
Plagiarism example: For example, a married man who is attracted to a female coworker might accuse her of flirting with him. This shows that the man feels a desire he knows is unacceptable, but instead of admitting it, he accuses the woman of having those same feelings. Another example: A woman wrestling with the urge to steal might come to believe that her neighbors are trying to break into her home.

 


Paraphrased plagiarism

What is paraphrased plagiarism?
This type of plagiarism means taking someone else’s sentences, changing a few words, moving the order around, and presenting it as your own ideas. Although the words or the sentence order are your own, the ideas are not.

Paraphrased plagiarism is the most common type committed. For many students, it might feel like you’re doing a lot of work, figuring out what a writer is saying and then finding a way to say it in your own words.  Actually, being able to paraphrase well is a challenging skill.

Like with direct quotes, professionals use paraphrases in their research. This is a very common practice, as long as the paraphrases are given proper attribution.

This type of plagiarism is serious. Remember that in academic writing, the purpose is to contribute to learning and knowledge. In order to do that, you need to contribute original work: you own ideas, opinions, or interpretations, based on what others have written.

If we think of constructing knowledge as building a house, then your job is to go in there with some tools, which is the information you found from other sources, and maybe add a door. You are not responsible for building the entire house. But if you go in there and all you do is point to what has already been built, then you’re not adding anything, are you?

Example of paraphrased plagiarism

In this example, notice that the paraphrased version says basically the same thing, but using different words and word order.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/projection

 

Paraphrased plagiarism
Original: Projection also encompasses projective identification, in which a person displaces an unconscious fantasy or feeling from a prior relationship into a new one. A man could displace his feelings of frustration towards a distant parent onto a romantic partner who emotionally withdraws after an argument, for instance. Unlike defensive projection, projective identification isn’t always related to protecting one’s ego and sense of self-worth.
Plagiarism example: Another type of projection is called projective identification. This means taking feelings or fantasies from previous relationships and transferring them onto new relationships. For instance, if a man feels frustrated towards a non-loving parent, he might transfer those feelings towards a romantic partner who pulls away after a fight. A difference between projective identification and defensive projection is that this type of projection isn’t necessarily to protect feelings of self-worth and ego.

 


Patchwork plagiarism

What is patchwork plagiarism?

This type of plagiarism, as its name implies, take pieces from different places and stitches them all together to make a whole.

Patchwork plagiarism might copy-paste one section and paraphrase another to come up with a “new” text. It might take some pieces from one author and other pieces from another author.

But do you see what’s missing?

Where is your work? Where are your ideas? Where is your contribution? Remember that just taking parts from different authors and cobbling them together isn’t considered original work. As in the example above, patchwork plagiarism is walking into a house that’s being built and pointing at everything that someone else built.

Because it includes some direct plagiarism and some paraphrased, this is also a serious type of plagiarism.

While professionals do include direct quotes and paraphrases from other sources, they use them to bolster their own arguments, their own ideas. Other people’s work is a support; it is not the main structure.

Example of patchwork plagiarism

In this example, the highlighted sections are copy-pasted, and the red font is a paraphrase.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/projection

 

Patchwork plagiarism
Original: Sigmund Freud first reported on projection in an 1895 letter, in which he described a patient who tried to avoid confronting her feelings of shame by imagining that her neighbors were gossiping about her instead. Psychologists Carl Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz later argued that projection is also used to protect against the fear of the unknown, sometimes to the projector’s detriment. Within their framework, people project archetypal ideas onto things they don’t understand as part of a natural response to the desire for a more predictable and clearly-patterned world.
Plagiarism example: Sigmund Freud first reported on projection in an 1895 letter, in which he described a patient who claimed her neighbors were talking about her behind her back, as a way to not confront feelings of shame. Other psychologists, Carl Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz, suggested that projection is also used to protect against the fear of the unknown, sometimes to the projector’s detriment. In order to make sense of an unpredictable, chaotic world, some people will take typical ideas they have and project them onto things they don’t understand.

 


Self-plagiarism

What is self-plagiarism?

It’s hard for some students to understand what this type of plagiarism is. You can actually plagiarize yourself.

How?

If you reuse something you’ve previously written and submitted for another assignment, that is self-plagiarism.

If a professional includes something they have previously written and published, that is an even more serious offense, because it’s on a professional level.

But even as a student, this is considered academic dishonesty, since you are trying to get credit twice for the same work. This type of plagiarism is considered moderate, since it does take into account that you are the author. You came up with the ideas, you did the work. The dishonesty is from trying to get two grades for one assignment.

What if you have topics in two classes that are very similar and the same research would work for both assignments? Then talk to your teachers. Explain the situation, and see if you can use some of the same research, maybe even some of your same writing. Some teachers might allow it because this would allow you to do more thorough research and better writing, since you’re going to write about the same thing for two classes.


Accidental plagiarism

What is accidental plagiarism?

Mistakes happen. This type of plagiarism is when you cite a source incorrectly, or when you forget to cite altogether, or when a quote is wrong. All of these point to careless record keeping during the research process. These mistakes are considered unintentional. That’s why accidental plagiarism is considered a moderate type.

But they are still plagiarism and therefore still subject to disciplinary action.

Writing a paper and using sources is challenging. You need to keep track of where information came from, have the proper citations, make sure quotes are accurate and paraphrases reflect the original meaning of the writer.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete the assignment and double-check it before you submit it.

Example of accidental plagiarism

In this example, the words in blue indicate a mistake: first an incorrect citation, since the source is Psychology Today, and not Freud. Second, a mistake in the direct quotation, where one wrong letter makes the quote meaningless.

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/projection

Accidental plagiarism
Original: More recent research has challenged Freud’s hypothesis that people project to defend their egos. One study proposed that projecting a threatening trait onto others is a byproduct of the mechanism that defends the ego, rather than a part of the defense itself. Trying to suppress a thought pushes it to the mental foreground, the psychologists argued, and turns it into a chronically accessible filter through which one views the world.
Plagiarism example: Freud stated that the reason people project is to protect their own self-image (Freud). However, recent research has suggested this might not be correct. As Psychology Today explains, “protecting a threatening trait onto others is a byproduct of the mechanism that defends the ego, rather than a part of the defense itself.” We can understand from this that projecting is what is left over from attempts at preserving one’s self-image, and not the actual preservation attempt.

Key takeaways

  • There are a variety of ways to commit plagiarism, along different points on a scale of seriousness.
  • Regardless of the type, whether the plagiarism was done on purpose or by accident, it is still plagiarism and could still lead to negative consequences.

Published October 28, 2020.

By Halina Stolar. Halina has a master’s degree in teaching and taught English as a Second Language and writing for almost 15 years overseas. She now works as a freelance writer, and geeks out over grammar for fun.

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