So, What Is Plagiarism, and How to Avoid It?

Writing guide
Posted on November 21, 2023

In academic and creative writing, plagiarism is a term that frequently comes up. But what’s plagiarism? Even more, what’s the meaning to plagiarism? And how can you ensure you’re not unintentionally committing this act of literary theft? Here, we’ll explore the meaning of plagiarism, advise how to avoid it in your papers, and shed light on the key differences between plagiarism and copyright. We’ll also touch on various types of plagiarism and the consequences of engaging in such practices. Let’s dive in!

So, What’s Plagiarism?

What’s plagiarism? Plagiarism is a word often thrown around, but it’s crucial to understand what it truly means.

Pro tip
In plain English, plagiarism is using someone else’s words, ideas, or work without giving them proper credit. It’s essentially stealing intellectual property, considered unethical and illegal in many contexts.

Plagiarism can occur in various forms, such as directly copying text, paraphrasing without proper citation, or even self-plagiarism, which involves reusing your work without permission.
Examples of plagiarism are abundant. Consider a university student who copies a paragraph from an online article and inserts it into their research paper without citation. It is a clear case of plagiarism. Another common example is when an author publishes a book that closely resembles the work of another writer, either intentionally or unintentionally. In the world of music, Madonna was once accused of plagiarism when her song “Frozen” bore striking similarities to this song by another artist years earlier.

Important Note: What’s the Definition of Plagiarism?

What’s the definition of plagiarism? Now that we’ve established plagiarism, let’s delve into what’s plagiarism mean. Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own without giving them proper credit. It can include:

  • Copying and pasting text from a source without citation.
  • Paraphrasing someone else’s work without proper acknowledgment
  • Using images, graphics, or any form of media without permission or attribution.
  • Reusing your work without disclosure (self-plagiarism).
  • Failing to cite sources in a research paper or academic essay.
  • Submitting someone else’s work as your own, be it an entire paper or parts of it.

It’s crucial to understand that plagiarism extends beyond just text. It encompasses all forms of intellectual property, including art, music, and research. Plagiarism undermines the credibility of the plagiarizer and harms the original creators.

So, what’s considered plagiarism, and what is copyright? What’s the difference between copyright and plagiarism? Understanding the distinction between copyright and plagiarism is essential.

  • Copyright refers to the legal protection granted to the creators of original works. It gives them exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and display work. In contrast, plagiarism is an ethical and moral issue related to using someone else’s work without proper attribution.
  • What’s classified as plagiarism? For example, an author writes a book and registers it with a copyright. No one else can publish, sell, or distribute that book without the author’s permission. However, if someone were to copy and paste text from the author’s book and present it as their own without giving credit, they would be committing plagiarism, even if they weren’t violating copyright law. Plagiarism is about honesty and integrity in academic and creative attempts
Difference Between Copyright and Plagiaris

What’s the Best Way to Avoid Plagiarism in Your Writing?

What’s the best way to avoid plagiarism? Avoiding plagiarism in your writing is crucial to maintaining your academic or creative integrity. Here are some effective ways to prevent it:

  • Proper citation. When using someone else’s work, provide proper citations. Whether it’s a quote, paraphrase, or reading summary, always attribute the original source. For instance, if you’re using a quote, put it in quotation marks and include the author’s name and the source.
  • Use a plagiarism checker. A plagiarism checker can be a handy tool to detect plagiarized content. It scans your text and compares it to a vast database of existing content to highlight any similarities. It can help you identify areas that need proper citation. One such plagiarism-checking tool is available at, which offers an online plagiarism checker. This tool compares the text you submit with its database. Still, it’s essential to note that the content in its database limits the accuracy of the checker. It might not help with auto-plagiarism (self-plagiarism) if your new article hasn’t been included in the database yet
  • Paraphrase properly. What’s a paraphrasing plagiarism? Paraphrasing plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty where an individual rephrases or rewords another person’s work without providing proper attribution. It involves taking someone else’s ideas, sentences, or content and attempting to pass them off as one’s own by altering the wording. While paraphrasing is a valuable skill in academic writing, when used unethically, it can still constitute plagiarism if the original source is not cited. Detecting and preventing paraphrasing plagiarism requires a keen understanding of how to rephrase content while maintaining the integrity of the source and giving credit where it is due.
  • Plan your work. Start your writing process early to avoid the last-minute rush. It allows you to carefully research and cite your sources, reducing the chances of unintentional plagiarism.
  • Seek permission. If you want to use someone else’s work significantly, contact the original creator and obtain permission. It is especially important for artwork, music, and other creative works.
  • Use quotation marks. When including direct quotes, use quotation marks and provide the author’s name and source. It shows that you are acknowledging the source of the content.
  • Learn the rules. Familiarize yourself with the citation style required by your institution or publication. Different fields and disciplines may have specific guidelines for proper citation.

By following these steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of ramifications of plagiarism and ensure that your work remains honest and original.

What’s the punishment for plagiarism?

The punishment for plagiarism may vary depending on the severity and context of the offense. In educational settings, students may face consequences such as failing an assignment or course or getting expelled In professional and legal domains, plagiarism can result in damaged reputations, job loss, or legal ramifications of plagiarism, including fines or court proceedings for copyright infringement. The severity of the punishment often corresponds to the extent of the plagiarism and the impact on the original content creators.

What’s the difference between spoof and plagiarism?

A spoof and plagiarism are often conflated, but they are fundamentally different concepts. Plagiarism, as we’ve discussed, entails using someone else’s work or ideas without giving them due credit, which is both an ethical breach and, in some cases, a legal offense.

On the other hand, spoofing involves humor or satire by imitating or mimicking a specific style, genre, or individual’s work for comedic effect. Although spoofing may include elements borrowed from the original, its purpose is not to deceive or claim the spoof as original work.

Jacob Lee Top-10 Writer at
You can think of spoofing as of referring to someone else’s work. In this case, you and your audience clearly know who is the author, so that you build your own idea just referring to the original source.

For example, when a comedian creates a parody of a well-known song, it falls under spoofing. The primary aim is to entertain and provide humor, not to mislead the audience. In contrast, plagiarism is a deceptive act that seeks to pass off someone else’s work as one’s own, undermining the integrity of the original creator’s efforts. Understanding the distinction between spoof and plagiarism is crucial to appreciate the different intentions and consequences.

And what’s the difference between fabrication and plagiarism?

The difference between fabrication and plagiarism lies in the offense.

  • Fabrication involves creating fictitious information, data, or content and presenting it as real. It can occur in research, reporting, or creative work.
  • In contrast, plagiarism involves the use of someone else’s existing work, ideas, or words without proper attribution. Plagiarism often results from a lack of acknowledgment and proper source citation.

While fabrication and plagiarism are unethical and can have serious consequences, they represent distinct forms of dishonesty: one involves inventing content. At the same time, the other entails borrowing it without giving credit.

Plagiarism, spoof, and fabrication

What’s the difference between accidental and intentional plagiarism?

The difference between accidental and intentional plagiarism is all about why it happens and whether someone means to do it.

  • Accidental plagiarism is when you don’t mean to, like if you forget to give credit to your sources because you didn’t know the rules or just made a mistake. It’s not on purpose and is usually just a slip-up.
  • On the other hand, intentional plagiarism is when you do it purposely, such as copying someone’s work and pretending it’s yours or not giving credit when you know you should. It’s a choice to break the rules, and it’s not an accident.

Check: What’s an example of paraphrasing plagiarism?

Paraphrasing plagiarism occurs when someone rephrases an original text without proper attribution. The key here is to ensure that when you paraphrase, you’re not just changing a few words but conveying the same ideas in your own words while giving credit to the source. Let’s look at an example:

  • Original text: “The earth orbits the sun, making one complete revolution every 365 days.”
  • Paraphrased text (Plagiarism): “The planet rotates around the sun, completing a full cycle each year.”

In this example, the paraphrased text still conveys the same information as the original, but it hasn’t been properly cited. It is a form of plagiarism. A correct way to paraphrase this information would be:

  • Properly paraphrased text: “The Earth makes a full revolution around the sun every 365 days (Smith, 2023).”

By providing the source and properly rewording the content, you avoid plagiarism while still using the original idea.

Here’s one more example to illustrate written paraphrasing plagiarism:

  • Original text: “The Mona Lisa is a masterpiece created by the renowned artist Leonardo da Vinci during the Renaissance era.”
  • Paraphrased text (Plagiarism): “The famous painter Leonardo da Vinci crafted the iconic artwork, the Mona Lisa, in the period known as the Renaissance.”

In this case, the paraphrased text rephrases the original information but lacks proper citation. It constitutes paraphrasing plagiarism. To avoid plagiarism, cite the paraphrased text like this:

  • Properly paraphrased text: “During the Renaissance era, the celebrated artist Leonardo da Vinci produced the masterpiece, the Mona Lisa (Smith, 2023).”

By providing attribution and paraphrasing the content appropriately, you ensure that your work remains original and plagiarism-free.

Now you know what’s a plagiarism and what’s the meaning of plagiarism. Understanding what’s plagiarism and how to avoid it story is crucial for maintaining your academic and creative integrity. Plagiarism, using someone else’s work without proper credit, can have serious legal and ethical consequences. By following the best practices for combating plagiarism, such as proper citation, using plagiarism checkers, and paraphrasing correctly, you can ensure that your work is original and honest. Remember that spoofing and plagiarism although are different, and it’s important to know their distinctions. Always prioritize integrity in your writing and creative endeavors to build a reputable and trustworthy body of work.

About authors
James Snyder A Top-10 writer at
James is one of the most prominent authors on our team with more than 7 years of experience. He specializes in writing essays and coursework. James loves to work from home with a cup of hot chocolate and his cat Archibald.
Kate Roth A Top-10 writer at
Kate likes to read long stories and write essays. She’s experienced in both academic writing and marketing activities, so she can tell everything about a writer’s job in a few simple words. You can use our website to request the help of our experts anytime.
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