12 Different Types of Plagiarism to Avoid

Although plagiarism may seem like a simple concept of passing off someone else’s work as your own, there are actually several different types of plagiarism. From how you cite sources to who actually contributes to a piece of writing, here are 12 distinct types of plagiarism you should avoid.

student considering plagiarism from book student considering plagiarism from book

1. Direct Plagiarism

Also known as “word-for-word plagiarism” or “clone plagiarism,” direct plagiarism involves copying an entire piece of work by someone else and claiming it is your own original work. This is what many people associate with plagiarism, and it is easy for teachers and professors to detect.

2. Hired Plagiarism

Hired plagiarism involves paying someone else to write an essay or research paper for you. This also includes buying essays from internet sites or essay-writing services. It doesn’t have to be the entire essay or paper; it’s plagiarism to hire someone else to write any part of work you claim as your own.

3. Borrowed Plagiarism

It’s also plagiarism to borrow essays from friends. You may have older friends who have taken a course years before from a different instructor. If you use a paper or part of a paper written by a friend for a past course, this is considered borrowed plagiarism.

4. Self Plagiarism

Similarly, reusing your own work from a past class and passing it off as new work is also a type of plagiarism. This includes using all or part of a high school essay for a college assignment. It’s also self plagiarism to use the same essay or paper to fulfill two different assignments for two different courses.

5. Mosaic Plagiarism

One of the most confusing types of plagiarism is mosaic plagiarism because it encompasses a lot of different behaviors. Also called “patchwork plagiarism” or “patch writing,” this type of plagiarism involves using part of someone else’s work and adding your own work to it. This includes “copy/paste” and “find and replace” plagiarism, where you replace certain words or sections with paraphrased work in an attempt to make it unique.

6. Collaboration Plagiarism

This type of plagiarism involves collaborating on a project but acting like it was done alone. A group of students may get together to work on the research for a project and then each write his or her own essay based on the research. Because the work is not entirely original and that of the student claiming it, this is plagiarism.


7. Contributing Author Plagiarism

Similarly, not crediting an author or editor who contributes to the work is considered plagiarism. For instance, if you and your partner work together on the project but only one of you gets credit, the person receiving credit is actually plagiarizing some of the work. Additionally, if someone edits your work and makes significant changes in the process, that person should be credited to avoid plagiarism.

8. Aggregated Plagiarism

An essay or paper doesn’t have to be a word-for-word copy of another work to be plagiarism. If your paper is based on another paper and uses the same ideas and the same sources, it may be aggregated plagiarism. Rewriting the language used does not make the paper or essay unique if the sources and ideas are the same.

9. Outline Plagiarism

Similarly, using the same structure with new information is considered plagiarism. Outline plagiarism, also called “retweet plagiarism,” uses the outline of another paper. The thesis statement is the same, as are the basic points in each paragraph. The sources and actual writing may be unique, but the paper or essay is not entirely original content.

10. Bibliography Plagiarism

Passing off research done by someone else is also a form of plagiarism. If you use the bibliography from another paper, you are plagiarizing that research. Even if you write a paper that is unique and has a different thesis, the research is not yours. On a similar note, extending a bibliography with sources not used in the paper is a form of plagiarism too.


11. Secondary Source Plagiarism

If your paper mentions primary sources and cites those properly but then uses info from secondary sources without citing them, you are committing secondary source plagiarism. For instance, you may have some interviews you did with early settlers in your community, and you may properly cite those sources. However, if you also bring in information from some newspaper articles from the era you’re describing and don’t cite the articles in your sources, you are committing plagiarism.

12. Accidental Plagiarism

Finally, it’s possible to accidentally plagiarize other work if you are doing a lot of research for a paper. You may come across ideas and forget where you saw them, thinking they are your own. You may even be influenced by the language used in a piece of writing and inadvertently use the same language in your work. This kind of plagiarism is difficult to avoid, but making notes and trying to be aware of what you read can help.

Avoid Plagiarism and Be Proud of Your Work

Plagiarism can take many different forms, and this can make it difficult to identify - even in your own work. Take some time to look at examples of plagiarism and consider some tips for avoiding plagiarism. You’ll be better able to make sure you’re creating unique work, and you’ll be able to be proud of that work as your own.