What is Plagiarism and what’s so wrong about it?

Plagiarism is more than just copying text; it involves using someone else’s work or ideas without proper credit. This unethical practice can lead to serious academic, legal, and professional consequences. Our detailed guide explains what constitutes plagiarism, its various forms, and the significant negative impacts it can have on one's career and reputation. Understanding the importance of originality and proper attribution is crucial to maintaining integrity in any field.

What is plagiarism?

Presenting someone else's work as your own is known as plagiarism in academic settings. What precisely constitutes plagiarism in a learning environment is a work of writing that was written by someone else or borrowing terminology and ideas without properly citing sources. Repeating someone's work and passing it off as unique or altering references are also examples of plagiarism.

Why is it considered unethical?

First of all, copying someone's creative work is unethical. Second, it violates academic institutions' integrity policies. At these institutes, students are taught the value of recognizing the original producers of knowledge and distributing it according to best practices. Copying violates these values. 

What Are Some Examples of Plagiarism?

It is not just about copying an essay you saw online, or falsifying citations, or self-plagiarism but this is much more. Let us see different types of it:

Examples of Plagiarism
Direct Copying:Using someone else's exact words without quotation marks or proper citation.
Paraphrasing Without Credit:Rewriting someone else’s ideas or text in your own words without acknowledgment.
Self-Plagiarism:Reusing your own previously published work without citing it.
Mosaic Plagiarism:Mixing copied phrases from a source with your own words without proper citation.
Accidental Plagiarism:Unintentionally failing to cite sources correctly due to lack of knowledge or attention.
Paying for Essays:Submitting work purchased from ghostwriters or essay mills as your own.
Improper Citation:Using incorrect citation methods that misrepresent the source of information.
Idea Plagiarism:Presenting someone else's unique idea or theory as your own without proper credit.

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Reasons Why Students Plagiarize?

  1. Lack of Understanding: Some students are not fully aware of what constitutes duplication and how to avoid it.
  2. Time Management Issues: Procrastination or poor time management can lead to last-minute work where students resort to copying to meet deadlines.
  3. Pressure to Succeed: High academic expectations and pressure to achieve good grades can drive students to plagiarize.
  4. Lack of Confidence: Students who doubt their own writing skills may plagiarize to produce what they believe is a higher quality work.
  5. Easy Access to Information: The abundance of online resources makes it tempting to copy and paste without proper attribution.
  6. Poor Research Skills: Inadequate research skills can lead students to unintentionally plagiarize by failing to properly synthesize and cite sources.
  7. Belief They Won’t Get Caught: Some students think that originality detection tools are not foolproof and take the risk.
  8. Peer Influence: Observing peers who plagiarize and seem to get away with it can influence others to do the same.
  9. Cultural Differences: Students from different educational backgrounds may have varying understandings of intellectual property and plagiarism.
  10. Laziness: A lack of motivation or unwillingness to put in the effort required for original work can lead to copying.

How do professors check for plagiarism?

Teachers use a range of techniques to identify the originality of any content: An automatic Originality detector: This feature has been added to many schools' and institutions' online submission systems.  Students frequently worry that their work may unintentionally set off originality detectors. For example, will the tool mark their assignment as plagiarized if they quote from widely recognized texts like the Declaration of Independence? Software for detecting duplication can tell the difference between the stuff that may be suspect and that comes from reliable sources.  Tools for detecting originality are just one technique used by educators to find instances of plagiarism. Instructors can frequently spot instances of originality just by looking at the assignment. 

Several red flags trigger a more in-depth plagiarism check. If a paper's subject does not align with the assignment, it could indicate potential plagiarism. Another warning sign is when essays reference external sources without citing the assigned readings. Professors are also able to detect significant shifts in writing style or sudden changes in the flow of the paper. When professors suspect copying, they have various courses of action. They may examine a plagiarism detection software report or search for specific phrases from the paper. Additionally, they can arrange a meeting with the student to inquire about the paper. Keep in mind that professors do not need to find the plagiarized source to trigger consequences. If an instructor strongly suspects duplication, they can impose consequences.

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What are the consequences of plagiarism?

The institute's code of conduct will determine the repercussions of duplication. For plagiarized assignments, students in many courses automatically receive a zero. Severe offenses may automatically result in a failing grade for the course.  In many institutions, they keep academic dishonesty statistics.  Instructors have the option to submit instances of plagiarism to the university's academic integrity board.

In the end, plagiarism reduces the worth of each person's dignity. 

How to Avoid Committing Plagiarism

Understand What Constitutes It: Educate yourself on the different forms of plagiarism, including direct copying, paraphrasing without credit, and using others’ ideas without acknowledgment.
Cite Sources Properly: Always provide proper citations for any information, ideas, or quotes that are not your own. Follow the required citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).
Use Quotation Marks: When using someone else’s exact words, place them in quotation marks and provide a citation.
Paraphrase Correctly: When rephrasing someone else's ideas, ensure the wording is significantly different from the original and include a citation.
Maintain Good Research Habits: Keep track of all the sources you consult and take detailed notes to ensure accurate citations later.
Use Duplication Checker Tools: Utilize online tools like Merlin, Turnitin, Grammarly, or Copyscape to check for unintentional duplication in your work.
Understand and Follow Guidelines: Adhere to the specific guidelines provided by your institution or publication regarding the use of sources and citations.
Original Thought and Analysis: Focus on adding your own insights and analysis to your work rather than relying heavily on sources.
Seek Permission When Needed: If you need to use a significant portion of someone else's work, seek permission and provide proper attribution.
Consult with Instructors or Editors: If in doubt, ask for guidance from instructors or editors to ensure your work meets ethical standards.


In actuality, copying someone else's work without permission can be a very expensive infraction that can result in court cases, expulsion from school, or even loss of employment in the professional sector.

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Anupma Singh

Anupma Singh

Anupma Singh, an IITian turned serial entrepreneur, has developed a deep passion for SEO. Her writing expertise spans various topics, businesses that drive positive societal change, and the ever-evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI). She has specialized in driving massive organic growth for websites through engaging and informative content.

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