Caleb S.
Caleb S.

Understanding Plagiarism: Types and Consequences

9 min read

Published on: Oct 13, 2023

Last updated on: Oct 13, 2023

Understanding Plagiarism: Types and Consequences

Feared by students, scholars, and writers alike, plagiarism is a word that demands our utmost attention. In an era driven by information, the act of using someone else's work without giving them credit is a substantial academic offense. 

You will be surprised to learn that, other than the basic definition, plagiarism exists in a number of forms. 

Not only copying someone’s word can be counted as plagiarism, but even changing the word with alternates without citation counts as an academic offense too!

In this blog, we will provide a deeper insight into plagiarism and discuss the shapes it takes in the academic world. Furthermore, every single person in academics should know the dire consequences of plagiarism. 

For that reason, we will also tackle the implications of copying someone’s work. As a plus, this blog also includes some tips to avoid plagiarism in your work. 

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

What Do We Understand by Plagiarism?

To understand plagiarism, first, we should look at the roots of the word itself. Derived from the Latin word “Plagiarism,” which means kidnapper, plagiarism means ripping off someone else’s work as your own without giving them the credit they deserve!

As discussed earlier, plagiarism comes forth when someone intentionally or unintentionally copies someone’s work as their own. When a writer references another’s work in their papers without properly citing the other author's work, it gives birth to plagiarism. 

Everyone in the world of academics and research has access to the internet. Although internet access facilitates everyone, it does allow some people to perform unethical academic practices. Everyone has access to online articles, educational resources, research papers, etc. 

This has made way for plagiarism to be a common practice in academic writing. 

Now, we will see what are the common types of plagiarism in academics.

The Common Types of Plagiarism

Plagiarism isn't a one-size-fits-all offense. It comes in different forms, and distinguishing these types is key to preventing it. 

These are the most common forms of plagiarism: 

Direct/Verbatim Plagiarism

Direct plagiarism is also known as verbatim plagiarism. It is the act of copying someone else's work word-for-word without correct citation. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that verbatim plagiarism is the most brutal and abrupt form of plagiarism. 


  • Copying a paragraph from a website or an article and pasting it into your essay without citations or quotation marks.
  • Utilizing a published paper's introduction in your own research without proper attribution. 

Consequences: Damage to your reputation, academic penalties, and potential legal actions depending on the context.

Complete/Global Plagiarism

A plagiarized work comes under the category of global plagiarism when a writer presents someone else’s work in their own name. Also known as complete plagiarism, this type is similar to direct plagiarism. But in complete plagiarism, one copies entire papers without citation!


  • Forwarding an entire research paper from a source, portraying it as your own.
  • You submitted your senior’s research paper for your final project with your own name.

Consequences: Severe academic penalties, confirmed damage to your reputation, and potential legal consequences.

Paraphrasing/Inadequate Plagiarism

Paraphrasing plagiarism occurs when someone paraphrases a source by changing a few sentences or words. When you use a source but don't change the structure or wording enough, it leads to unintentional paraphrasing plagiarism! 


  • Paraphrasing an essay paragraph by changing a few words but retaining the original sentence structure.
  • Rewriting a source without changing the sentence order or preserving the same idea.

Consequences: Possibility of academic penalties if it's considered too similar to the original text.

Mosaic/Patchwork Plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism, or patchwork plagiarism, involves stitching together phrases, ideas, and passages from multiple sources. 

In mosaic plagiarism, the writer aims to create a new document that boasts mostly the same sentence structure of the sources used but with slight alterations in the words with the help of synonyms. 

So, when you quote from different publications, cite your sources every single time to avoid plagiarism!


  • Collecting information from different websites to produce a research paper without attributing individual sources.
  • Mixing paragraphs from different books to create a new article without crediting the original authors. 

Consequences: Academic penalties and potential damage to your academic and professional reputation.


Self-plagiarism can be tricky to grasp the concept of. Sometimes called auto-plagiarism, this plagiarism occurs when you present your previous work as new or without proper citation.

At first glance, you might think that using your own words again could be a problem. But when you’re presenting your old work again as a bunch of new ideas, you’re being dishonest! 


  • Submitting a paper you previously wrote for another course without the instructor's knowledge.
  • Reusing a part of a blog post you wrote for a different website without disclosing it.

Consequences: Academic penalties and potential harm to your credibility and integrity.

Accidental Plagiarism

Unintentional plagiarism, better known as accidental plagiarism, is the most common type of plagiarism. The writer not knowing they’re performing plagiarism gives birth to accidental plagiarism, as evident by the name itself.

When you forget to cite your sources in your work or when you unwittingly misuse someone else’s work, you perform accidental plagiarism!


  • Forgetting to include a citation for a quote in your paper, as mentioned earlier.
  • You misunderstood how to correctly paraphrase and unintentionally reproduced the original wording.

Consequences: While it's accidental, it can still result in academic penalties if discovered.

Collusion/Contract Cheating/Hired Plagiarism

Collusion, also known as contract cheating or hired plagiarism, involves hiring someone to do your work and submitting it as if you did it yourself. 


  • You paid someone to do your online quiz without letting your professor know. 
  • Ask a writer to finish the report for your semester project and submit it as your own.

Consequences: Serious academic penalties and potential expulsion, depending on institutional policies.

Now, you should be well aware of what the most common types of plagiarism are and what consequences each one carries.

Let’s see how you can avoid plagiarism effectively!

How to Avoid Plagiarism?

Here are some tips to let you get rid of your plagiarism worries. Follow these, and you’ll definitely be able to avoid plagiarism in your academic content. 

  • Master Citation Styles: Learn and use citation styles like APA, MLA, or Chicago to properly attribute sources in your work.
  • Plagiarism Checker Tools: Run your content through plagiarism remover tools like’s robust plagiarism checker tool to identify unintentional plagiarism.
  • Develop Unique Ideas: Focus on polishing your original thoughts and writing style to reduce the desire to copy content.
  • Effective Paraphrasing: Practice different paraphrasing techniques to rephrase the content while conserving the source's meaning. Or use an AI paraphrasing tool to do the job.
  • Multimedia Usage: Seek permission and properly credit incorporating others' videos, images, or audio.
  • Proper References: Always include accurate references in your work, while sticking to citation guidelines.
  • Understand Citation Rules: Grasp the significance of citing sources, including when and how to use quotations.
  • Cite Uncertain Cases: When you are in doubt, cite information that may not be universally seen as common knowledge.
  • Ethical Writing: Always embrace the principles of ethical scholarly writing to avoid unintentional plagiarism.
  • Use Summarization Tools: With cutting-edge citation tools like the AI content summarizer from, you can effectively summarize the ideas that you find online while avoiding plagiarism. 

The Bottom Line 

Wrapping it up, plagiarism is a very common issue for a lot of people in the academic world. With internet access at the fingertips of your hands, being able to copy content from the web to your benefit is effortless, to say the least. 

Being a student, you might have unintentionally copied something from a source and faced the consequences from your instructor or institution. 

On the other hand, being a researcher and an author, you might have seen copies of your content at different places without the credit you deserve!

With the various types of plagiarism, everyone should know what forms plagiarism takes and how to avoid plagiarism effectively. That’s why in this blog, we covered the most common types of plagiarism, their consequences, and listed tips to avoid them altogether!

However, a reliable AI essay writer may assist in creating a plagiarism-free essay if you’re not able to do it yourself. So give it a try!

FAQs About Plagiarism

Is there a difference between unintentional and intentional plagiarism?

Yes, unintentional plagiarism occurs without the intent to deceive, often due to improper citation. Intentional plagiarism is deliberate and involves knowingly passing off someone else's work as your own.

Why is ethical writing important?

Ethical writing is crucial because it maintains trust and credibility. It ensures that your work is original and respectful of others' ideas, both in academia and the professional world.

Can plagiarism be accidental?

Yes, not properly quoting or citing sources is considered plagiarism, even if unintentional.

Where can I find resources for plagiarism prevention and citation styles?

Resources for plagiarism prevention and citation styles are available in your institution's library, online style guides (e.g., APA, MLA), and academic writing centers.

Are there international standards for plagiarism detection and prevention?

While there isn't a single international standard, many institutions and academic communities have established guidelines and tools for plagiarism detection and prevention, promoting ethical writing worldwide.

How can I avoid unintentional plagiarism?

To avoid unintentional plagiarism, use plagiarism checkers, master citation styles, practice paraphrasing effectively, and seek multimedia usage permissions. These steps ensure proper source crediting.

Caleb S.


Caleb S. (Mass Literature and Linguistics, Masters )

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

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