Plagiarism Guide

If every student had a plagiarism guide, they would be able to avoid a whole array of problems with their college or university assignments. But unfortunately, only some of them seek out the rules, and even then, they don’t always understand what they should do and which mistakes to avoid. To help you learn everything there is to know about plagiarism, we developed an academic guide. After reading it, you won’t have any questions left, and your papers will be totally original. 

Plagiarism is the usage of ideas and words belonging to someone else coupled with failure to cite the name of this person. It is a common problem for students, and the worst thing is, you might not steal anything deliberately yet still end up in trouble. But hopefully, this guide will clear your confusion!

4 Major Types of Plagiarism

The first thing students should know is how many types of plagiarism can infect their research paper. There are four major ones, and they range from direct stealing to accidental borrowing. Take a look at the table below and try to remember them. We situated them in terms of their relevance, with less serious types being introduced first.

Self-Plagiarism Copy-and-Paste Plagiarism Mosaic Plagiarism Global Plagiarism

Sometimes students write several papers on a similar topic. When they receive yet another task of the same nature, they might decide on taking some chunks from their past content and place them into a new work.


This is a bad idea! Remember, you cannot use the same information in the same exact way. You could include a few sentences or findings from there, but only if it’s limited and you provide correct citation.

This type means taking a phrase, a sentence, or even an entire paragraph from another work and placing it in your own paper without changing anything and failing to include citations.



You could cite several sentences from someone else’s article, but don’t overdo it. Direct quotes shouldn’t take more than 10% from content.

When you drag info from several different sources and combine them into one text, pretending to be its author, it is known as mosaic plagiarism.



This is a more creative type of plag, but it’s absolutely unacceptable. You engage in deliberate deception here, which means a breach of academic standards.

This severe plag type means taking an entirety of someone’s work and passing it off as your own. This entails downloading it from the Internet, using friend’s essay, or hiring someone online to write everything.


You might like the idea of applying minimal efforts only, but the consequences might not be worth it.

Consequences of Plagiarism

If professors catch their students plagiarizing, things will quickly speed up into disaster. Universities consider this a severe disruption of their academic demands, so the punishment is equally strict. Of course, you wouldn’t want to worry yourself even more, but it is important to know what danger you might be facing.

  • Failing your studies. If plagiarism detection tool caught its traces in your work, one of the likeliest outcomes is failure of the entire course. All your previous work will be annulled, no matter how successful or original it was, and you will have to repeat this year of studies from the start.
  • Being suspended or expelled. Sometimes, if your plagiarism was severe enough, you won’t have a chance to retake the course. You could be expelled right away, with your mistake being cited in your records.
  • Legal problems. There is such thing as copyright infringement. If your content is not original and you took it from someone who learned about it and filed a complaint, you risk facing legal repercussions. The complainer might sue you or demand payment, all of which will increase your anxiety and create even more problems.
  • Destroyed reputation. Your academic, professional, and personal reputation might be destroyed. Plagiarism usually means that you are not fit to be a specialist because you lack ideas and take them from others. So by plagiarizing once, you might taint your future victories for years, if not forever.

How to Avoid Plagiarism: 5 Vital Tips

If you want to make sure that your academic content is fully original, there are five different ways in which you could do it. We listed them all below, providing useful explanations. Take a look and apply at least some of these strategies: it’ll be enough to produce clean papers.

Always Use a Plagiarism Checker Tool

When students are done checking their essays, they should choose one of plagiarism tools to check how original their text is. It’s even better to use several of them for getting the most accurate results. There are plenty of free options available, and some of them are detailed enough to let you know which sentences are problematic and how to reduce similarity rate.

Write by Yourself

The most guaranteed way of avoiding plagiarism is to write content in your own words. Brainstorm; find an essay topic you really like, and you’ll know what to say about it. This tip is closely connected with the one below.

Never Copy Anything from the Internet

Yes, you may use some universal ideas you stumbled across online, but never copy any sentence or revelation directly. Even if students just gather info before re-writing it in their words, it is still dangerous. They could forget which bit is copied and end up plagiarizing it by accident.  

Cite Your Sources Properly

When you use information that is not general knowledge, cite it. If you quote someone or re-tell their ideas, mention where they came from. You must do this for every unique idea that is not your own — not to mention you should follow all formatting style rules.

Check Copyright When Using Someone’s Ideas

There are million sites with interesting as well as useful information. Lots of students read articles or other academic publications, and very often, they get inspired enough to use them in papers. But even when you cite everything, you could still get into trouble. For preventing this, be sure you check whether the author allowed using their data. This will be mentioned somewhere on their site, usually in ‘terms of use’ category.

How to Cite Sources Correctly?

First of all, students should understand which claims must be cited. When you’re discussing usual ideas everyone knows about, you can do it without relying on anything. For example, you can talk about how many people live in poverty — this is a universal fact. But when you say that over 86% of people in India need financial assistance, it’s too specific, so citation is required. Are you wondering how to do it? No worries, we’re about to illustrate it.

There are lots of formatting styles, such as APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, and others. Some of them are used mostly in technical subjects like Math, others are applied in the sphere of Law, and the rest are preferred by Sociology and Psychology experts. Check instructions for seeing which style you need and what layout it has. Some document formats require a title page, others don’t; some need you to mention the name of the author and page number, others are more interested in the name and publication date. APA demands in-text citations while Chicago requires footnotes and endnotes.

Remember about fake referencing: this falls into the same category as plagiarism. If you take info from a book or an article, cite a specific page. Don’t make stuff up and add fake pages to create artificial citation — if you are caught, you’ll face the same penalty as with aforementioned plagiarism kinds. Cite a true page with a real author’s name and date. Be sure to do that both in the text and in a reference list: if you forget either, your citation won’t count.

Here are two examples with citations for the most popular style, MLA and APA.


In-text citation:

Some people believed that phobias are merely a social construct (Howard 32).

Work cited list citation:

Howard, Kevin. Responding to Shifts in Society. Spencers Publishing, 2013.   


In-text citation:

Having birds for pets has been proven to soothe anxiety and increase serotonin level (Lanes, 2018, p. 13).

Work cited list citation:

Lanes, K. (2018). “Pets are the best therapy.” Animals in Medicine3(4), 23-56.

How to Detect Plagiarism and Use Plag Checkers Effectively?

Professors are used to detecting plagiarism after merely looking through papers. They quickly notice if your style differs from paragraph to paragraph, not to mention they look at a language level. If students usually use simple vocabulary and suddenly their text becomes professional and refined, it’s suspicious. Plag checkers are vital, too, as professors pass most works through them. If you want to succeed, you should know how to use them yourself.

Look for the best plagiarism checkers that not just show a plagiarism rate, but which also underline the borrowed bits for you to see. You’ll see the links to sources where the plag checker believes you took info from, so you’ll have a chance to remove any copied stuff. Some developed checkers will even offer advice on how to correct problems — for example, they’ll show synonyms for individual words. Like we said above, try using several tools at once because their work is not perfect. This will allow synchronizing results and bringing plag rate to a minimum, avoiding committing plagiarism.

What Is Plagiarism: Your Checklist

  • I understood my assigned formatting style and know how to cite information.
  • When including a direct quote from someone, I put it into quotation marks & cited their name with the correct page number.
  • When explaining others’ ideas, I paragraphed them effectively and cited a source.
  • Each cited piece of info corresponds to the source I claim to use.
  • I put my essay through plag checker & corrected any possible issues it caught.
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What are the 4 types of plagiarism?

There are copy-paste, mosaic, global, as well as self-plagiarism. If someone copies text directly, it’s copy-paste. If they drag different bits from different texts to combine them into a paper, this is mosaic plag. Global plagiarism means presenting someone else’s work as yours while self-plag is about reusing paragraphs from your other essays.

Is plagiarism a crime?

Yes, it is. You’re facing the possibility of failing, being expelled, sued, or fired.

What exactly is plagiarism?

It is the borrowing or stealing of phrases & ideas and their inclusion into your work without proper citations.

Is self-plagiarism illegal?

Yes, it’s unacceptable both legally and in accordance with academic rules.

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Elizabeth Baldridge
Elizabeth Baldridge

Elizabeth provides educational materials, conducts research, explores and solves student challenges. Her posts are always helpful, innovative, and contain interesting insights.