Most Common Examples of Plagiarism to Be Aware of

Every student who attends college or university today knows that plagiarism is unacceptable. As an academic dishonesty form and an example of serious ethical offence, it often results in consequences that may be as serious as getting expelled from a course or even from a university altogether. In some cases, examples of plagiarism in writing may even result in penalties or legal actions. Despite recognizing the threats that it brings, some students really struggle avoiding it.

Indeed, distinguishing plagiarism from other academic practices that professors find acceptable is not always easy. Given that there are many forms that can be represented in writing in many ways, it may be helpful to examine specific plagiarism examples one by one in order to learn how not to plagiarize.

Plagiarism Examples You Should Avoid in Academic Writing

In response to strict policies that colleges and universities introduce regarding infringement of copyright, most students find it necessary to avoid this unethical practice. But although they do not copy other people’s works intentionally, issues may still occur in their papers. How do you think, which of the following is an example of plagiarism?

  • According to recent estimates, the number of homeless people increased by 15 percent in the city.
  • Smith argued that “he generally neither intends to promote the public interest nor knows how much he is promoting it.”
  • British scientists proved that lack of sleep negatively affects capability to memorize lengthy speeches by heart.

Notably, all the mentioned examples can and should be considered as academic dishonesty when found in paper. Although these instances seem rather innocent, they truly undermine writer’s authority by questioning his or her reliability as a source of information and as a new knowledge creator.

Here is a more detailed explanation of plagiarism examples for students, which vividly illustrate different forms of plagiarism as they are recognized by professors in the US universities and colleges.

Direct

Also known as word-for-word plagiarism, it occurs when you intentionally represent some work created by another person as their own one. When copying information from external sources or present information word-for-word without acknowledging original authors, professors will accuse them in this academic dishonesty type. Although this misconduct form requires very little efforts, it can be easily noticed. Even the worst free online checker can detect it with significant accuracy.

Correct citation Plagiarized
“At an academic conference on NDEs a few years ago, a respected cardiologist stood up and said, ‘I’ve worked as a cardiologist for 25 years now, and I’ve never come across such absurd stories in my practice’” (Finnegan, 2014, p. 225). At an academic conference on NDEs a few years ago, one cardiologist admitted that he never came across such absurd stories in his practice although he worked as a cardiologist for 25 years now.

Patchwork or patchwriting

This example of plagiarism takes place when students take small pieces of information from several sources and compile them into a single whole without providing credit to original authors. This is also an intentional form that requires significant efforts to cover their misconduct by re-arranging information. Although it is more sophisticated than direct plagiarism, many modern plag checkers successfully detect this academic misconduct increasing the likelihood of legal consequences of plagiarism.

Correct version Plagiarized version
source 1: Bradbury’s eye for contemporary troubles extends beyond the dangers of global disaster. In the prologue to The Illustrated Man, Bradbury introduces a character who has an existential problem: his torso is covered in living tattoos.

source 2: The Illustrated Man is a 1951 book of eighteen science fiction short stories by Ray Bradbury that explores the nature of mankind. While none of the stories have a plot or character connection with the next, a recurring theme is the conflict of the cold mechanics of technology and the psychology of people.

Bradbury’s eye for contemporary troubles extends beyond the dangers of global disaster. The Illustrated Man is a 1951 book of eighteen science fiction short stories by Ray Bradbury that explores the nature of mankind. Here he introduces a character who has an existential problem: his torso is covered in living tattoos. Its recurring theme is the conflict of the cold mechanics of technology and the psychology of people.

Self-Plagiarism

This plagiarism example occurs when you copy their own work without giving credit to it. It is not about continuing the same set of tasks for some specific subject, but about delivering a single paper several times in a row. Self-plagiarism also occurs when you use significant parts of their previous papers in new tasks or assignments for other classes. In most cases, it should be avoided, although there are still some professors who tolerate it.

Common Knowledge Misrepresentation

Sometimes you cover plagiarism by presenting borrowed information as common knowledge. This practice is incorrect because it deprives information of credibility. Also, misrepresentation occur when students make up information while aiming at providing their own arguments. Often, professors find such plagiarism examples rather noticeable. Therefore, students should avoid them.

Common knowledge examples Examples of not a common knowledge
  • there are 7 wonders on the planet
  • Berlin is the capital of Germany
  • Hawaii is an island
  • the USA has 50 states
  • the Battle of Tannenberg was in August 1914
  • deforestation in the US reached its max in 1872

Paraphrasing without Citing

This is another academic fraud example, which brings forward negative consequences for students. Although paraphrasing is an acceptable if not desired academic practice, all the paraphrased information should be properly cited. Failure to do so results in plag accusations. Every documentation style has specific guidelines on how to cite paraphrased information and always follow them, which is their only means for avoiding copyright accusations.

Original Paraphrased
“The term “planet” originally comes from the Greek word for “wanderer.” Many ancient cultures observed these “moving stars,” but it wasn’t until the advent of the telescope in the 1600s that astronomers were able to look at them in more detail” (Howell). Planet means wanderer and is of Greek origin. Ancient people called planets “moving stars” but were able to look at them in detail only after the invention of telescope in 1600s.

Insufficient Citations for Quotes

Even when seemingly cited, direct quotes may still be considered plagiarism examples under some circumstances. For instance, avoid citing large text passages. In most cases, professors accept only short quotes that provide rather precise support to student’s own arguments. Additionally, in-text citation formatting should strictly follow guidelines provided by a given documentation style. For instance, failure to cite an exact page number or use quotation marks in APA will probably result in serious copyright accusations.

Correct citation Plagiarized
At an academic conference on NDEs a few years ago, a respected cardiologist stood up and said, ‘I’ve worked as a cardiologist for 25 years now, and I’ve never come across such absurd stories in my practice’ (Finnegan, 2014, p. 225). “At an academic conference on NDEs a few years ago, a respected cardiologist stood up and said, ‘I’ve worked as a cardiologist for 25 years now, and I’ve never come across such absurd stories in my practice’” (Finnegan, 2014).

Fake citations

Example that concerns citing information but with incorrect sources. It occurs if one forgets where they copied the part of text or do not remember the page number of author, so create a fake citation. It’s a severe violation of copyright as creating a fake article or book and using it as a source.

Correct version Plagiarized
“As recent discussions of women’s language and women’s relation to language have shown, “women’s discourse” is difficult, and perhaps even impossible, to define” (Ford 310).

Ford, Karen. “”The Yellow Wallpaper” And Women’s Discourse”. Tulsa Studies In Women’s Literature, vol 4, no. 2, 1985, pp. 309-314. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/463709. Accessed 27 Jan 2020.

“As recent discussions of women’s language and women’s relation to language have shown, “women’s discourse” is difficult, and perhaps even impossible, to define” (Jameson 271).

Jameson, Steven. “”The Yellow Wallpaper” and Discourse”. Women’s Literature, vol 5, no. 3, 1965, pp. 268-274. JSTOR, Accessed 27 Jan 2020.

False data

This example is similar to the previous one as it concerns creating fake information. While writing academic papers it’s important to utilize only real data. If someone comes up with fake statistics or numbers the whole research has no value and will only spoil reputation or further scientific achievements.

Original source Plagiarized
“The battle lasted for 302 days, the longest and one of the most costly in human history. In 2000, Hannes Heer and Klaus Naumann calculated that the French suffered 377,231 casualties and the Germans 337,000” (En.wikipedia.com) The battle lasted for 305 days, the longest and one of the most costly in human history. In 2000, Hannes Heer and Klaus Naumann calculated that the French suffered 378 thousand casualties and the Germans 338 thousand.

Incremental

Example is poorly paraphrased content, although correctly cited. Some people take the info from other sources but interprets it incorrectly. Sometimes it’s better to insert a direct quote and cite the source or use only materials that are clear.

Original Plagiarized
“Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Interred on Armistice Day 1920, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgins’ fire was extinguished in the fourth century. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now in both world wars)” (En.wikipedia.org, 2020). “Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War II. Interred on Armistice Day 1925, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western Europe since the Vestal Virgins’ fire was extinguished in the fourth century. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified only during WWII” (En.wikipedia.org, 2020).

Read also: Plagiarism stats in schools and colleges.

How To Avoid Plagiarism

Is plagiarism a crime? From the US law standpoint, sometimes it is, and students should learn to avoid it to protect their own rights as new knowledge producers. One’s desire to create original content alone doesn’t fully secure the work from plag because this misconduct occurs unintentionally, sometimes. Therefore, it is sound for students to use plagiarism tools, judging from a variety of copyright examples that exist.

A reliable online plagiarism checker is very helpful in promoting paper originality because it easily detects every instance that can undermine author’s authority and credibility. In addition to marking every plagiarism kind, online checkers often provide reports that allow them to significantly improve the overall content quality. Finally, a reliable checker not only ensures 100% paper originality, but also saves time that students usually spend proofreading their papers.