Types of Plagiarism and How to Avoid It: A Step-by-Step Guide

What is Plagiarism and Tips to Avoid it

In the last few posts, we have talked a lot about paraphrasing and how it is used by students in the academic community to avoid plagiarism. Today, we would be looking at what plagiarism is and tips on how to avoid plagiarism.

Types of Plagiarism and How to Avoid It

What is plagiarism?

When we arrive at school or college, the teachers are terrified and are already warning, “don’t commit plagiarism”, but, after all, what is plagiarism? Plagiarism is nothing but a copy! It is commonly agreed that it is intellectual theft, that is, you copy, without quoting, appropriate the author’s knowledge and say that it is yours. Currently, studies have detected that there are different types of plagiarism. So far, we can name a few so that you can start avoiding this type of practice, as it is very unethical and can compromise all your work.

Types of plagiarism that exist:

Direct or Full Plagiarism

Direct or full plagiarism is nothing more than the literal transcription of an excerpt from a given work by an author without the indication that it is a quote because, at the end of the text, we do not find any reference that this reflection belongs to the other person.

Partial Plagiarism

Partial plagiarism, in turn, occurs when the author’s academic work (article, essay, thesis, dissertation, summary, review, synopsis, report, etc) using paragraphs and/or phrases from other authors in their work without any citing the appropriate sources, which results in a kind of set of textual fragments.

For example, if an author develops a certain study, and you copy that result, and you don’t quote the author, or if you copy text, you copy the authors that he cited, and you just change the words, what is it? It is plagiarism, it is a copy. So, plagiarism is nothing more than a copy, you take it, take ownership of the intellectual production, and don’t mention the source.

Mosaic Plagiarism

The mosaic plagiarism, in turn, is identified when one realizes that the writer of a particular academic work uses the work excerpts from other authors in modified form and/or reformulated thus the paragraphs are not exactly an exact transcription of the work of another author, however, does not yet provide credits to the author of the original work.

Conceptual Plagiarism

Finally, there is conceptual plagiarism. It is nothing more than the use of concepts from another author’s work for the formulation of his academic work. This type of plagiarism can be more clearly perceived in texts of master’s dissertations and doctoral theses.

Thus, in this mode of plagiarism, we realize that the authors appropriate certain concepts but do not refer to them at the end of their texts, so it seems that the original idea was theirs, when, in fact, they only appropriated a concept for developing an idea based on something is already done, which compromises work ethics since one of the primary values ​​is originality in the process of developing the theme.


When we are talking about plagiarism, we cannot, in any way, forget to talk about the self-plagiarism that has gained a lot of strength in recent years. In this mode, plagiarism copies the content of the student himself in a later work without any type of referencing. A very common example of this type of setback is the use of an article already sent and/or published by a scientific journal in another type of submission, such as a scientific journal, for example.

There is also another type of situation that can be considered plagiarism. It is a process in which the student distributes excerpts from an article already published in other materials to be published, either in the annals of events or in scientific journals. Currently, when this happens, the authors receive an opinion from the agencies that ask that changes be made to the text for eventual publication. It is possible to perceive, from some studies, that self-plagiarism may aim to increase the number of articles published by the student who always seeks greater visibility for his academic career, to receive a future investment by part of the funding agencies in their research, in this way, the author-researcher invents and/or manipulates data to force a result to be explored in various works.

Nowadays there are the most diverse tools that can identify any of the ways of plagiarizing mentioned above. These tools can find out if any part of the submitted work has been plagiarized. These platforms accept the most diverse formats and among them are filed in Word (doc and docx), PDF, and HTML.

Tips to avoid plagiarism

The first question is to understand that you cannot copy! If you used what the author said directly or indirectly, you have to quote, copy, never.

Direct Quote/Indirect Quote

Simple, cite everything you read, cite all references to the information you put in your text, if it is the same information or if you copied it, cite from direct or indirect citations.

There are a few more steps you can take to avoid falling into any of the types of plagiarism mentioned above.

The second tip that complements what we mentioned above that we can quote is: familiarize yourself with the referencing guidelines for direct and indirect citations.

Another tip that we can pass on to you is always consult the most up-to-date version of the referencing manual so as not to make mistakes when preparing citations. It is quite difficult to follow everything that the referencing guide recommends, especially when there is not much experience with formatting academic texts, however, the consultation of these manuals can help a lot in the process of preparing references.

There are several ways to refer to an author, so be sure to stick to the fact that there are different ways to refer to books, book chapters, journal articles, abstracts published in annals, websites, dissertations and theses, scientific journals, exclusive documents from the internet, videos, films, among others.

Consult the manuals

Concomitantly with this procedure, make a list of all the works cited at the end of the work, whatever. After finishing your text, you must list all the works cited in the work to reference them in the item “Bibliographical References.” To streamline the process, be sure to list data such as:

  • surname and name of the author.
  • title of the cited material.
  • date of publication and date on which the page was accessed (for materials obtained online) and place of publication.

Still, on the use of direct and indirect situations it is important to say that if you insist on keeping the same words of the author, use direct citations because they use the same words as the work mentioned, thus, there is no type of manipulation of ideas by the writer, however, be sure to make the appropriate references, both in the body of the text and in the item intended for bibliographic references.

Whenever you use this resource, identify the author and the year clearly and do not make any changes to the text, as it is a direct quote.

Always use quotation marks when making a direct quote, but not indirect quotes. It is important to emphasize that when we use direct quotes, we need to put everything that the author said in quotes.

Our third tip is about rewriting ideas. When you make a paraphrase, change the structure, language, and writing details of the excerpts offered by the basic author for his work. Be very careful when rewriting ideas from original material so as not to fall into any of the forms of plagiarism mentioned at the beginning of this conversation.

You must understand that the paraphrase serves to give more voice and visibility to an existing idea. Therefore, it is necessary that you:

  • change the way phrases are constructed in the original text.
  • the vocabulary of the sentence (use synonyms whenever possible).
  • the tone of the passage (it must be clear that it is not a copy of ideas).

The fourth tip is to perform a summary or synthesis of the material cited. For this method, identify the main ideas of the passage and describe them authentically and effectively. Do not increase its size too much, as the ideas may not be so clear, and always remember to quote the author, the year, and, when possible, the title of the work.

It may be interesting during the preparation of this summary to mention the specific ideas of the original material that you are keen to keep in your text, however, be sure to cite the appropriate sources, as this will prevent you from accidentally committing plagiarism, also, to show readers the distinction of ideas that are yours and those of the authors you have based on.

To speed up this process, try to create a page with the works cited so that you can later include them in the “Bibliographic References” section.

Our fifth and final tip is: whenever possible ask for permission to cite material that you have written and published in other disciplines and/or journals to avoid self-plagiarism. If you want to quote something you have already used in the past, ask the professor and/or advisor responsible for the research if the strategy is valid and ethical.

Do not forget that this tip is only valid for your previously published works (this strategy does not apply to works that are still waiting for a future submission and/or publication).

However, we recommend that you do not use this technique frequently as it can harm your integrity, so we recommend that you never deliver work already published in a journal and/or discipline.

Try to reformulate, whenever possible, your arguments and opinions creatively and innovatively instead of seeking inspiration from what other people have said, as this reduces the risk of plagiarism and makes your text more interesting since it is about a new idea elaborated authentically.

To do so, ask your teacher and/or advisor for indications of different readings so that you can develop your idea from original texts and not just commentators and experts in the field.

Always make notes in your own words, so that when you want to use them in a text, just transcribe these ideas and add the other quotes to avoid the various types of plagiarism.