What is Plagiarism and How to Avoid it: Explained with Examples

What is Plagiarism?

The 19th century English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton gave the world the phrase, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” The world of academia is held firm by this faith. Plagiarism is one of the highest crimes in the world of academics. It holds the power to destroy someone’s credibility and career. Suppose someone’s word cannot be trusted. In that case, they are often not accepted by their superiors, and peers are legit academicians. Therefore, the first and foremost thing that one should learn when entering the higher education sector is what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. Today, in this article, we will discuss the following points:

  • What is Plagiarism 
  • Different Types of Plagiarism 
  • How to Avoid Plagiarism 
  • How to check for Plagiarism 

What is Plagiarism 

Plagiarism is not as simple as cheating or copying. It is a complex concept. Whereas cheating or copying is mostly intentional in nature, plagiarism can be done both knowingly and accidentally. Plagiarism is defined as presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own without their consent or acknowledgment and without giving them credit for their work. Basically, when you take someone’s work as an inspiration in the form of words, ideas, thoughts, languages, etc., and claim it to be your own, you fall into the grasp of plagiarism. 

What is Plagiarism

Types

There are various types of plagiarism when it comes to academia. In this article, we will reflect on some broad categories of plagiarism, such as:

  • Intentional Plagiarism 
  • By copy-pasting word-by-word from the original source 
  • Unintentional Plagiarism 
  • By not giving proper citations/ footnoting 
  • Self Plagiarism

Intentional Plagiarism  

Intentional plagiarism occurs when the author copies the work of others, being fully aware of what they’re about to do. Some authors copy the entire study, whereas others might copy parts and claim them to be their own. The original author never gets acknowledged for their work because no citation and/or quotation is used. Intentional plagiarism is the worst kind of plagiarism there is in the field of writing. 

Accidental Plagiarism 

Accidental Plagiarism is most frequent among new students. They accidentally plagiarize because of a lack of training. Wrong paraphrasing, incorrect quoting, and improper citations are the most common causes. In the majority of cases, plagiarism occurs because of the wrong method of paraphrasing. The students think that they have tuned the work according to their originality and forget to give credit where it’s due.  

Self Plagiarism 

It doesn’t matter that you quote a past work you did in the new research. But you have to be mindful of it. Self-plagiarism occurs when you use the information from your own work that has already been published without properly citing it. In academics, uniqueness is highly prized; consequently, it is critical to emphasize the originality of your work.

Also Check: Academic Writing Guide

How to Avoid Plagiarism (with examples)

Although plagiarism is an academic offense, there are ways through which anyone can avoid or correct this mistake. The example used below was created using citations from the book The Irony of Apartheid (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 1981). Each section begins with an original statement from the book. The statement is then plagiarized to show how a text can be hijacked in several ways. The nature of the crime is described, along with an example of proper usage. 

  1. Direct Plagiarism 

Direct plagiarism happens when you edit the original sentences in the slightest manner, such as by capitalization or adding or removing a word here and there. However, you fail to use any sort of citation, quotation, or footnoting to give credit to the original author. Let us use an example to see how to avoid direct plagiarism:

Original text: But Hertzog recognized the danger and stood up for the rights of the Afrikaner. Only the National Party offered a Christian solution to South Africa’s racial problems. The politics of the nationalists, were in the view of Het Westen, unquestionably Christian. The Afrikaner People were a Christian people, therefore their politics must of necessity be Christian.(1)

(1) Irving Hexham, The Irony of Apartheid (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 1981), p. 185.

Plagiarism: But General Hertzog recognized the danger and fought for the rights of the Afrikaner. Only the National Party offered a Christian solution to South Africa’s racial problems. The politics of the Nationalists, were in the view of the newspaper Het Westen, thoroughly Christian. The Afrikaner People were a Christian People, therefore their politics must of necessity be Christian.

[ The words that are underlined have been altered. But the majority of the text is simply copy pasted from the original text without any footnoting as you can see. ]

The correct way to write to avoid plagiarism: 

Hexham writes “But General Hertzog recognized the danger and stood up for the rights of the Afrikaner. Only the National Party offered a Christian solution to South Africa’s racial problems. The politics of the nationalists were in the view of Het Westen, unquestionably Christian. The Afrikaner People were a Christian people, therefore their politics must of necessity be Christian.”(1)

(1) Irving Hexham, The Irony of Apartheid (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 1981), p. 185.

[ Note how quotes are used to cite the original text and then footnoting is applied to cite the real author and credit him for his work. ]

2. Plagiarism due to incorrect method

This sort of plagiarism can happen despite the fact that the true author is acknowledged. It happens because of improper use of quotes or footnotes. Let us use an example to see how to avoid such plagiarism:

Original: But Hertzog recognized the danger and stood up for the rights of the Afrikaner. Only the National Party offered a Christian solution to South Africa’s racial problems. The politics of the nationalists, were in the view of Het Westen, unquestionably Christian. The Afrikaner People were a Christian people, therefore their politics must of necessity be Christian.(1)

(1) Irving Hexham, The Irony of Apartheid (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 1981), p. 185.

Plagiarism: Professor Hexham brilliantly observes that Hertzog recognized the danger and stood up for the rights of the Afrikaner. Only the National Party offered a Christian solution to South Africa’s racial problems. The politics of the nationalists, were in the view of Het Westen, unquestionably Christian. The Afrikaner People were a Christian people, therefore their politics must of necessity be Christian.

[ Here we can see that in the beginning of the statement, the true author has been acknowledged. But this sort of writing is still considered to be plagiarized because appropriate quotation marks and references are not applied. This sort of plagiarism is mostly unintentionally done by students who do not understand the rules of academic writing. ]

The correct way to write to avoid plagiarism: 

Professor Hexham observes that “Hertzog recognized the danger and stood up for the rights of the Afrikaner. Only the National Party offered a Christian solution to South Africa’s racial problems. The politics of the nationalists, were in the view of Het Westen, unquestionably Christian. The Afrikaner People were a Christian people, therefore their politics must of necessity be Christian” (1)

(1) Irving Hexham, The Irony of Apartheid (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 1981), p. 185.

[ Note how quotes are used to cite the original text and then footnoting is applied to cite the real author and credit him for his work. ]

3. Plagiarism due to avoidance of quotes 

So you have used a footnote to reveal the source of your data, but have you used a quotation mark to highlight the borrowed idea too? If not, then it comes under the category of plagiarism. Although a reference is provided, quotation marks are not used when academic citation norms require them.  Let us use an example to see how to avoid this sort of plagiarism:

Original: But Hertzog recognized the danger and stood up for the rights of the Afrikaner. Only the National Party offered a Christian solution to South Africa’s racial problems. The politics of the nationalists, were in the view of Het Westen, unquestionably Christian. The Afrikaner People were a Christian people, therefore their politics must of necessity be Christian.(1)

(1) Irving Hexham, The Irony of Apartheid (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 1981), p. 185.

Plagiarism: In his insightful book The Irony of Apartheid Dr. Hexham observes that Dr. Hertzog recognized the danger and stood up against the British for the rights of the Afrikaner. Only the Nationale Partie offered a real solution to South Africa’s racial problems. The politics of Afrikaner Nationalists, were in the view of Het Westen, entirely Christian. The Afrikaner Volk were a Christian People, therefore their politics must of necessity be Christian.(1)

(1) Irving Hexham, The Irony of Apartheid, chapter 7

[ A footnote is allocated here in order to give credit, but academically it is required to use quotes when citing someone else’s work. ]

The correct way to write to avoid plagiarism: 

In his book, The Irony of Apartheid Dr. Hexham observes that “General Hertzog recognized the danger and stood up against the British for the rights of the Afrikaner. Only the National Party offered a real solution to South Africa’s racial problems. The politics of the Nationalists, were in the view of Het Westen, entirely Christian. The Afrikaner People were a Christian People, therefore their politics must of necessity be Christian.”(1)

(1) Irving Hexham, The Irony of Apartheid (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 1981), p. 185.

[ Note how quotes are used to cite the original text to back up the footnoting to cite the real author and credit him for his work. ]

Also Read: How to write Summary: Explain with Examples

Sources: 

https://people.ucalgary.ca/~hexham/content/articles/

https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/guidance/skills/
https://www.editage.com/all-about-publication

Share on:

Hello! My name is Eiti Tiwari and I am a budding sociologist. Reading, researching, and writing are some of the things I'm extremely passionate about. I survive on coffee, to-do lists, deadlines, and organization. My interest areas are food, gender, and academia.