Examples of Plagiarism in Different Types of Texts

Plagiarism is when you copy someone's work and try to pass it off as your own. Plagiarism can be a violation of copyright laws and can be considered cheating, resulting in you getting a failing grade or even being kicked out of school. Discover various examples of plagiarism so you can be sure to avoid this serious problem. Students can commit plagiarism, but so can anyone who produces any type of writing.

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Examples of Plagiarism in Everyday Writing

Plagiarism can take many forms. Explore some of the different types of plagiarism so you can be sure to avoid them in your own writing.

Borrowed Plagiarism Examples

The fact that someone gives you permission to copy their work doesn’t make it okay to submit it as your own. This is an example of borrowed plagiarism.

  • A student has a writing assignment for a history class. Her friend took the class last year. She asks for and receives a copy of the friend’s paper, which she turns in as her own after making a few small tweaks.
  • A student’s boyfriend wants her to go out, but she needs to stay in and write a paper. He offers to share a paper he wrote for the same class last year. She accepts and copies it exactly, turning it in as if she wrote it.

Text From a Friend’s Paper:

The legal system is made up of civil courts, criminal courts and specialty courts, such as family law courts and bankruptcy courts. Each court has its own jurisdiction, which refers to the cases that the court is allowed to hear. In some instances, a case can only be heard in one type of court. For example, a bankruptcy case must be heard in a bankruptcy court. In other instances, more than one court could potentially have jurisdiction. For example, a federal criminal court and a state criminal court would each have jurisdiction over a crime that is a federal drug offense but that is also a state offense.

Barely Altered Text Submitted as Original:

The legal system is made up of criminal and civil courts and specialty courts like bankruptcy and family law courts. Each court is vested with its own jurisdiction. Jurisdiction refers to the types of cases the court is permitted to rule on. Sometimes, only one type of court can hear a particular case. For instance, bankruptcy cases can be ruled on only in bankruptcy court. In other situations, it is possible for more than one court to have jurisdiction. For instance, both a state and federal criminal court could have authority over a criminal case that is also considered an offense under federal and state drug laws.

Self-Plagiarism Examples

A frequently asked question is whether people can plagiarize themselves. The answer is yes. Reusing your own work when you should be creating new work also represents plagiarism.

  • A transfer student took a similar course at her last school. Instead of creating new work, she simply turns in papers that she wrote for assignments at her former school.
  • A freelance writer is assigned a topic similar to a post on his own blog. He rewords the article a bit so as not to create duplicate content, then submits it to the client.

Original Work by the Student:

The process of searching for a job can be very stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with a well-written resume that has appropriate keywords for your occupation. Next, conduct a targeted job search for positions that meet your needs.

Self-Plagiarized Text:

Looking for a job can be very stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Begin by writing a good resume with appropriate keywords for your occupation. Second, target your job search for positions that match your needs.

Mosaic Plagiarism Examples

Incorporating some of your original wording into a piece that was largely written by someone else would represent mosaic plagiarism.

  • You find a paper similar to your assignment and change some wording so that it isn’t a direct copy, though the ideas, information and/or organization are not original.
  • Using work completed by someone else, then reorganizing it or adding extra text to what was there to start with is also an example of mosaic plagiarism.

Source Text:

Gardening in mixed beds is a great way to get the most productivity from a small space. Some investment is required, to purchase materials for the beds themselves, as well as soil and compost. The investment will likely pay-off in terms of increased productivity.

Plagiarized Text:

If you don’t have a lot of space for a garden, raised beds can be a great option. Gardening in mixed beds is a great way to get the most productivity from a small area. Some investment is required. You’ll need to purchase materials for the raised beds themselves, as well as soil and compost. The investment will pay off, though, in the form of increased productivity.


Aggregated Plagiarism Examples

When a person copies from multiple sources and submits or publishes the work as if it is her own, that is aggregated plagiarism

  • A student has a book report due but hasn’t read the book. He visits a book review website and copies directly from several of the reviews to create “his” report.
  • A technical writer copies chunks of wording from documentation that she finds online for several products similar to the one she is writing about.

Source Text 1:

Performance management involves more than just conducting annual performance evaluations. In fact, many companies have done away with formal performance appraisals altogether. Instead, they opt for one-on-one dialogues between managers and employees on a quarterly or monthly basis.

Source Text 2:

When your focus is to improve employee performance, it’s essential to encourage ongoing dialogue between managers and their direct reports. Some companies encourage supervisors to hold one-on-one meetings with employees as a way to facilitate two-way communication.

Plagiarized Text:

When your focus is to improve employee performance, ongoing dialogue between managers and their direct reports is essential. While performance management often involves conducting annual performance evaluations, it does involve more than just that.

Many companies don’t do formal performance appraisals anymore. Instead, they encourage one-on-one dialogues in which supervisors hold meetings with employees as a way to facilitate two-way communication and one-on one dialogue. These are done on a quarterly or monthly basis.


Outline Plagiarism Examples

If you were to follow the order and structure of someone else’s work very closely, this would represent outline plagiarism (even if you’re using your own wording for the content).

  • You want to write a blog post on a topic that you saw covered on another blog. You like the way it is organized, so you copy the headings and then fill in with your own text.
  • You aren’t sure how to best organize your term paper, so you find a similar one and copy the table of contents, then follow it exactly when writing your piece.

Source Outline:

Section 1: Preparing for a disaster overview

Section 2: Building an emergency pantry

Section 3: Emergency supplies

Section 4: First aid and medication inventory

Section 5: Preparing for pet needs

Plagiarized Outline:

Section 1: Overview - Preparing for a disaster

Section 2: Build an emergency pantry

Section 3: Emergency supply items

Section 4: First aid and medicine inventory

Section 5: Preparing for needs of pets

More Common Acts of Plagiarism

There are even more examples of ways that students and others commit plagiarism.

Direct Plagiarism Examples

Taking credit for someone else’s work as if you wrote it yourself is an example of direct plagiarism.

  • A website owner wants to add new content. Instead of writing articles, he copies articles from other websites and publishes them on his site with his name as the author.
  • An academic is expected to publish academic papers but is low on time. He finds a 10-year-old article in an obscure journal, then copies it and submits it as his own work.

Hired Plagiarism Examples

Paying someone to complete an assignment for you that you then turn in as if you wrote it is another example of plagiarism.

  • A student decides to hire an academic writing service to produce a literature review for a class. The service produces the complete paper and she submits it as her own work.
  • A student asks her older brother for help. The brother offers to just write a paper if she will do his chores for a month. She agrees and turns in what he writes under her byline.

Collaboration Plagiarism Examples

Group or partner projects in which one or more members of the group don’t actively participate can lead to plagiarism.

  • When someone who did not actually participate in creating a work of writing is listed as one of the authors, the person is taking authorship credit for someone else’s work.
  • When someone’s boss insists on being added as an author to work produced solely by the employee, what the boss is doing is an example of plagiarism.

Contributing Author Plagiarism Examples

Failing to include someone as an author who actively contributed to the creation of the work would also be an example of plagiarism.

  • If committee members collaborate to create a work of writing, but only the chairperson is listed as the author, this represents plagiarism. Contributing authors should be credited.
  • If you work closely with another person to craft a work of fiction and the other person actively contributed to the writing, both of you should be listed as authors of the work.

Bibliography Plagiarism Examples

When an assignment requires a bibliography, you shouldn’t just use someone else’s source list instead of doing your own research. You also shouldn’t pad your bibliography with publications that you didn’t actually use.

  • You have a research paper due tomorrow and don’t want to spend hours on research. Instead, you find another paper and only use sources listed in that paper’s bibliography.
  • An assignment requires five sources. You can only find two online and don’t want to go to the library. You use only the online sources, but list the others in the bibliography.

Secondary Source Plagiarism Examples

Any information included in a work of writing that is based on something discussed in a source you consulted when doing research should be properly cited. This includes sources you consulted, even if you don’t quote them directly.

  • Publishing a blog post inspired by another source without including a mention of or link to that source is an example of secondary source plagiarism.
  • If you write a term paper that includes ideas you read about in a journal article, that journal article should be cited as a source even if you don’t quote directly from it.

Accidental Plagiarism Examples

The act of plagiarism doesn’t have to be intentional. Copying someone else’s work and submitting it without proper attribution is plagiarism, even if the writer doesn’t do it on purpose.

  • A student quotes a large block of text from a book word-for-word in a paper. The student includes a footnote, but does not indicate in the text that the words are a direct quote.
  • You include information that should be attributed to a source as if it were your own idea. This applies to information you may know from a class, but is not common knowledge.

Plagiarism vs. Paraphrasing

It’s very important for students and writers to have a clear understanding of the concept of plagiarism. Being knowledgeable about plagiarism can help you ensure you aren’t making this kind of mistake in your own writing. Further expand your expertise by reviewing some examples of paraphrasing. This, paired with your new knowledge of plagiarism examples, will help make sure you clearly understand the difference between these two closely related concepts.