Academic Plagiarism: Know What it is and How to Avoid it

Academic Plagiarism

It is very common for students to search for references and content in books and internet portals for university work and final-year research papers. However, if the quote or excerpt used is not properly credited, it can be configured as academic plagiarism. Plagiarized works lose their validity, that is, they are invalidated. Before you throw away all the research and creation effort of your university work, make sure everything is as it should be.

Imagine the following situation: you did a job from scratch. You researched, read, gathered information, and, after much effort, created and published an original article. A while later, you discover that it is being copied, and other people are getting credit for your effort. That is, you were a victim of plagiarism!

It wouldn’t be cool, would it? Plagiarism is a serious problem in academia. If you’ve ever been plagiarized, you know how horrible it feels. Some students and researchers copy other authors intentionally, but it is also possible to commit plagiarism unintentionally.

It would not be good for your reputation to be accused of copying someone else. So it is worthwhile to understand better what plagiarism is. Then keep reading!

What is plagiarism?

The act of plagiarizing consists of copying or signing a text, music, photo, work, as if it were yours when it belongs or has parts of someone else’s work or ideas.

Types of Academic Plagiarism

There are several types of plagiarism. For example, use quotes, phrases, concepts, and ideas from another actor, without attributing the correct quote. In addition, the use of images, tables, and graphs, without due credit, is also prohibited.

Full Plagiarism

This is the worst type of academic plagiarism, as it shows bad faith and a lack of ethics. It appears in the full copy of another author’s work without paying due credit. In other words, in this type of plagiarism, the author is not mentioned, and his work is entirely copied and credited to another person.

Partial Plagiarism

Partial academic plagiarism occurs when the author uses several phrases and fragments from different authors throughout the work without giving due credit. Unlike full plagiarism, the partial contains work by several authors.

Mosaic Plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism occurs when the student paraphrases ideas from another author without identifying its true source. In other words, it is the act of writing; in other words, the same idea that the original author passed on in his work.

Many students use academic mosaic-style plagiarism, changing only a few words from the original text. The idea is to make it difficult to identify plagiarism; however, if plagiarism is proven, the work loses its validity in the same way.

Conceptual Plagiarism

Using another author’s ideas and concepts, as if they were his, is also characterized as academic plagiarism. All concepts used, which are defined by other authors, must be properly credited in the text.

Minimalistic Plagiarism

This type of plagiarism is almost similar to the partial plagiarism; however, the writer changes the sentence structure and words to cover up copying another’s ideas.

Other types of Plagiarism

In addition to the main types of academic plagiarism, already mentioned above, you can also find:

  • Data without source: it is common to find qualitative and quantitative data in academic works. However, informing these data without citing the source can also be characterized as plagiarism. Therefore, whenever you use any information from a survey, quote the institution that conducted the survey;
  • Non-existent sourceciting a non-existent source can also invalidate your work. Do not be tempted to invent a quote or assign a quote or information to any source;
  • Self-plagiarism: Did you know that it is possible to self-plagiarize? This happens when the student uses work already done by him and does not give himself credit. For example, when a graduate student uses excerpts from his undergraduate degree for his graduate work and does not place the credits. Stay tuned!
  • Visual content: As previously mentioned, visual content such as photos, drawings, tables, and graphs must also be correctly cited, and their authors must be credited.

How to Prevent and Detect Plagiarism?

First, citing all the sources, you use in your academic work. Also, using the referencing style of your institution correctly also helps a lot in the process. This is because the institution standards already stipulate guidelines that must be followed for different types of citations and references.

There is still no standardized rule within universities to identify and punish students who commit academic plagiarism. Because of this, in most cases, it is up to the teacher to perform this analysis. At the beginning of the academic career, it is common for students to present more work with small cases of plagiarism, without intention.

This is because the student is not yet familiar and can make some mistakes when crediting the explained content. However, it is important that students not commit plagiarism throughout their careers, as it can harm and invalidate research and work.

Remember the main types of citation generally accepted in the academic environment around the world:

Direct quote

To make a direct quote, that is, transcribe exactly what the author said, in your work, you must pay attention to the size of the quote.

For quotes of up to three lines, quotation marks and reference to the material used must be used.

For quotes of four lines or more, different formatting is required. The font used in the quote must be smaller than the font of the rest of the text; the font size ten is usually used. In addition, it is necessary to add a 4cm indentation in the left margin. Finally, add the reference to the material used in the end.

Indirect citation

This type of quote is used when the author of the work paraphrases the original author; that is, he writes with his words the same idea or concept that the author used. As previously mentioned, this type of quotation must also receive the due credits, so, after the paraphrased phrase, insert the reference of the material used and year.

Tools to detect plagiarism

Some tools help in detecting plagiarism in academic works. Are they:


This is one of the most popular programs for detecting plagiarism and has personal and professional plans. Copyspace offers a report with information about the references found, what are the number of occurrences on the internet, and the percentage of suspicions.

This program also allows you to check if your work has excerpts copied from the internet or from files on your computer.


Yes, the world’s largest search engine can be used to screen for simple plagiarism, especially if it is full or partial. To do this, paste the excerpt that you suspect is plagiarized into the search engine and check the search for similar texts, or even the original content.


This online program offers more affordable prices and has a simple and quick way to analyze excerpts from academic papers, looking for whether there is any plagiarism.


This is a free tool and very simple to use. 1text checks if there are documents on the internet that resemble the analyzed content, thus looking for possible plagiarism.

Implications of Academic Plagiarism

Being caught plagiarizing can have serious legal implications for the people involved in the act. Plagiarizing another author’s work can be in breach of copyright laws. Also, those who commit plagiarism may have their diploma revoked, invalidating their entire academic career.

Students and professionals who are caught plagiarizing someone else’s content are also not well regarded at congresses, symposia, and other academic events. Thus, it is clear that plagiarism does not pay, as it checks all the professional or student’s credibility.