Common Plagiarism Types

Are you aware of the different types of plagiarism? As a student, blogger, journalist, or copywriter, you are likely well-aware of the possible issues that come with plagiarizing. The consequences of having copied another's piece of content are irreversible. Academic disciplinary actions, including expulsion, failing grades, and detention (for students) or dismissal (for professionals), are all just some of the consequences one may face.

When a researcher collects data as the base for their study, it is okay. But, when they try to copy-paste some pieces of that content into their research without referencing where the information came from, this is unacceptable and is often compared to theft.

Many people underestimate the consequences of intellectual property theft. Many states are implementing new laws and regulations to protect this type of property, but students and writers continue to plagiarize, even though many tools like our checker exist. In this article, we will talk about different types of plagiarism and ways of avoiding them.

The act of plagiarizing may ruin your academic or professional career, so it is smart to check every finished text with the help of the special plagiarism checking tool from EduCat. It can easily tell whether a document contains duplicate parts.

And here is how to use it:

  1. Pick the type of text you wish to scan (is it an essay or report, website, etc.?);
  2. Insert the text in the box (you may also drag-and-drop the file or upload it from your documents); you'll see the total character count (it will ensure that the length of your work does not exceed the required amount);
  3. Agree to the privacy policy and click the "Check" button;
  4. Obtain your results and fix any non-unique parts.

If the program detects plagiarized content, it does not necessarily mean that you were trying to cheat. See examples of the different types of plagiarism below to understand how it works.

Complete Plagiarism

This is the most serious type of plagiarism. It occurs when a writer does not partially copy a text or even attempt to paraphrase the reproduced material but copy everything bluntly and submit the entire project under their name.

Pretending that you are the one to write a specific piece of content is the worst thing you can do in writing. One can argue that it is better to submit nothing than to do complete plagiarism. It is a type of intellectual theft, and plagiarists can be sued to pay the original owner of the work.

Source-Based Plagiarism

This one takes place when you unintentionally paraphrase a source. Numerous sources on the same topics exist, and it is hard to create a piece of content that will be 100% original and offers completely undiscovered information.

Another example of this type is when a writer references something that is incorrect or does not exist. Such a citation will take the reader nowhere. It does not mean that a researcher intentionally wanted to prevent their readers from finding and studying the source - they might not realize they had miswritten it. Also, writers often cite secondary sources if they quote them without noticing the primary source.

Mosaic or Patchwriting

Mosaic plagiarism occurs when "clever" students combine information from different sources. It might seem like a good idea if you change the order of the sections and sentences, paraphrase every single piece of content, and add some original ideas to it - but it's not. In case a student inserts pieces of text from different sources one-by-one, it will still be viewed as duplicated content.

Patchwork paraphrasing is when a writer collects passages from various sources, mixes them, and rewrites separate parts of the text. Up-to-date plagiarism checkers will easily define it as having incremental plagiarism. It is the "mosaic effect," but the writer puzzles the words. If you were to do this, you would need to think about restructuring the entire text and rewriting every single sentence, changing its structure, and using synonyms. Even then, this approach might not work. Even with a lot of effort, it will be complicated to turn mosaic plagiarism into a 100% unique text. We recommend to simply spend more time on your work.

Data Fabrication

Falsification is the last common form of plagiarism. The idea is to make up information and research outcomes or change/omit information to create a false impression. It is unacceptable, especially in such fields as healthcare and law - where false impressions can lead to severe consequences.


This form is not that bad compared to the types mentioned above. The term stands for the process of copying your own texts that you have already submitted before. The work belongs to you, and you can do whatever you want with your intellectual property, but it is not best practice to present a piece of content you have already used as a new piece and re-submit it.

Copywriters may take advantage of this to earn more money with less effort. If managers detect signs of self-plagiarism, they might decline the work and refuse to pay for it. Students also should not hope to get credits for such work. Some may hope to receive good grades for self-plagiarized papers in classes that are similar and may cover the same topics (e.g., political science and law; biology and nursing; history and anthropology; psychology and sociology; religious studies and mythology; algebra and calculus, etc.).

Should one cite their own work? Yes, if a writer decides to use ideas or information from their previous publishings, they should quote their own text when inserting direct in-text quotations. A student should study the policies on self-plagiarism of their academic institutions or editorials.

Direct Plagiarism

This one takes place if a writer copy-pastes content from the source text. If an author decides to insert specific words and/or sentences in the body of their writing, it is necessary to format the quote correctly. If a student borrows phrases from other authors, they must stick to the citation style required by the instructor, institution, or writing standards.

Quotation marks and attribution are necessary for fighting this type. Using someone else's words without giving credit to that author is like complete plagiarizing with a single nuance. This type refers to small parts of the content, not the full text. It is punishable, even if the rest of the paper is unique. Using similar words is not a way out - synonyms can be detected as plagiarized content by smart checking tools that tutors and editors use today.

Accidental Plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism occurs when an author presents duplicate content unintentionally. Regardless, Master's or PhD students, journalists or copywriters, artists or amateurs - no one has the right to steal intellectual property. Hence, even this type of plagiarism should be corrected when detected.

Deliberate Plagiarism

This type of cheating refers to an attempt to pass off the work of another person as yours. It is similar to the one we discussed above. The difference is that this term pops up when a "thief" gets lucky in their attempts, and it turns into a habit. It is the process of actively trying to deceive teachers or professors by pretending to write original pieces when, in reality, it's someone else's work. This is the most common type of cheating among most students.

Tips and Recommendations

Forget about giving someone else's paper to your teacher. They will probably find out once they start asking different questions about the work. It is easy for an academic expert to realize when a student lies or hasn't completed their work themself. You should remain sincere and explain that you did not understand the topic or lacked time to complete the assignment. To prevent duplicating content in your work, stick to these basic recommendations:

  • You should start by studying your undergraduate plagiarism policy;
  • Change your paragraph and/or sentence structure if it is not entirely in your own words;
  • Recognize the importance of using quotation marks - remember that referencing without a citation formatting will be considered academic dishonesty;
  • Learn how a proper citation should look and study formatting guides and manuals (latest editions);
  • Use a comprehensive tool that finds synonyms (WordHippo, Thesaurus, etc.);
  • Check every finished text online using a plagiarism checking tool.

You can witness examples of plagiarism everywhere. Plagiarism may be tricky to detect, but thanks to the smart online tools of today, it is much easier to identify stolen pieces of content, as the apps responsible for this process have become quite accurate. Professors involved in teaching writing know which software to use. And any severe violation of academic rules and ethics can lead to an unpleasant experience for anyone involved. Hence, we recommend scanning every single paper you compose for possible duplicate content.