When the talk goes about plagiarism, the most comprehensive survey results that come to mind are that of The International Center for Academic Integrity. The research had been conducted throughout 2002-2015 and 24 US high schools with more than 70,000 students participated in it. The results were shocking, as 95% of the surveyed students admitted to cheating on a test and essay, or committing plagiarism.
I. What is Plagiarism
Definition of Plagiarism
The primary thing to understand is that plagiarism is an offense treated as an extremely serious issue in the academic environment that inevitably leads to severe consequences for a student who decides to act in this way. It can be compared to the act of stealing since specific texts or ideas developed by someone else are as valuable as their money or material assets and, therefore, must be protected. Basically, this dishonest activity can be defined in the following way:
Is Plagiarism A Crime? Is Plagiarism Illegal?
It is the nature of the issue that determines the severity of the case and whether any criminal actions are possible. Academic plagiarism is not illegal while copyright infringement is. However, in any case, any type of plagiarism is a severe violation of ethic codes that leads to various consequences.
Several cases related to plagiarism, in fact, ended up in court since they involved breaches of contract and even receiving multiple grants for the same research proposal. However, these cases are rather rare. Instances of copyright infringement, which is definitely a crime, are more common reasons for lawsuits related to plagiarism issues.
Educational institutions do not treat plagiarism as the crime so that cheating students could not find themselves in a court. Though it does not mean that there is nothing to be afraid of. Violation of the honor code will inevitably affect the student’s records in the following ways:
Some countries though, for instance, the United Kingdom, still consider the possibility of contract cheating’s criminalization so that students who hire someone to complete academic assignments, might be expelled, blacklisted, and receive a criminal record.
All these unpleasant outcomes can be easily avoided if the plagiarism prevention guide is carefully reviewed and followed precisely while writing academic tasks.
There are multiple myths associated with the proper use of copyright and related plagiarism issues. Some of the myths may be rather dangerous as many people believe in them.
II. Types of Plagiarism
10 Plagiarism Types Common Among Students
Many students get confused by multiple embodiments of the plagiarism issue as they may consider only copying and pasting someone’s text as the only valid option to avoid. However, there are many things to consider if one wants excellent records of academic achievements.
- Complete plagiarism or submitting a written text that belongs to another student
This is the most obvious type of academic cheating that is often conducted by students who almost missed the deadline. They ask a peer for help, borrow a completed assignment, and then use it as if it was their own original work. It is better to miss the submission and just receive zero rather than face accusations in plagiarism and fail the friend as well.
- Copying and pasting
Taking the part of the text from the useful source and putting it into the paper verbatim, or word by word, without the inclusion of quotation marks and citations, is considered to be a wrong and unethical behavior. The majority of written tasks require critical thinking, analysis, and demonstration of writing skills as opposed to the ability to find relevant facts and simply copying them into text.
- Patchwriting or mosaic plagiarism
Obviously, copying the content of one source, even if it matches the requirements and context precisely, is severe plagiarism and the majority of students do realize it. It is very easy to detect as well. Thus, some students may have a temptation to copy phrases from a variety of related sources so that the text will appear different. In fact, this is a bad idea as this way of completing a writing task is a compilation rather than original writing and leads to the same consequences as copying text from one source. What is more, it is also easy to detect and definitely not worth all efforts.
This type should not be confused with the appropriate way of working with sources that imply reading the source, understanding the idea, expressing it with your own words, and including the citation to the original source. Paraphrasing plagiarism occurs when a student takes the necessary part from the book or article, slightly changes the wording and pretends it is his or her original writing. However, it is not since the student just stole the idea and structure of the argument without mentioning the initial author.
- Fake referencing
It occurs when a good claim is supported by evidence that could not be found in the source the in-text citations refer to. Some students may think that if the article’s name contains the keyword from the claim, the teacher will not open the original source to cross-check the information, and there is no need to check whether the source indeed possesses the information used in the paper as evidence. This is a wrong perception as providing inaccurate information is also a type of plagiarism.
- Incorrect citing
Though it may appear to be a formatting issue, at first sight, it is still related to plagiarism. One of the common mistakes includes inappropriate use of quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing of the source since a huge paragraph is taken from the source, even if put in the quotation marks and cited, is inappropriate in the majority of cases as implies the absence of critical analysis. Another problem is locating in-text references at the end of the paragraph instead of the end of the sentence with evidence. Such a structure implies the entire paragraph was taken from the source.
- Absence of in-text references
Even if all sources are listed on the references page, the absence of in-text parenthetical citations or footnotes means that none of those sources were used. That is why it is crucial to include citations to all facts or ideas that are not common knowledge and not the original thoughts of the student. Failure to do so will inevitably result in plagiarism accusations.
- Referring to a fabricated non-existent source
This is one of the most severe issues in the academic environment as a student who includes the references to the invented and non-existent source to pretend that his or her claims are supported deceive the audience and provide invalid results. The analysis must be driven by data instead of fitting the data to the desired analysis. Finally, it is just unethical to give your reader a source that never existed.
- Including supportive media materials without citations
While the text may be perfectly structured and cited where needed, adding the pictures, diagrams, or other media files to strengthen the completed task without acknowledging the source will still result in the failure due to plagiarism. Illustrations are intellectual property just like the text in sources. Thus, all graphical addons must have proper labels, captions, and citations in accordance with the requested formatting style.
It is vital to keep the balance and not to be afraid of all those “absences of citations equals to plagiarism” claims as it may lead to the opposite issue: some students become so afraid of being accused of academic dishonesty that they start to cite literally every sentence in a paper, even in conclusion. As a result, the paper appears to be properly structured, researched, and cited one but it is still a compilation of other people’s ideas and different facts. This is a critical issue because students must demonstrate their own interpretation and analysis of gathered evidence and actually defend their claims. Quotes and citations should not speak for themselves, thus, the absence of the author’s voice in the paper also makes it failing one.
Other Types of Plagiarism
Types of Plagiarism Ordered on The Severity
Intentional vs Accidental Plagiarism
Despite the fact that consequences for both types of plagiarism are severe, there are considerable differences between them that might be taken into account by teachers.
The Difference Among Paraphrasing, Quoting and Summarizing
These techniques are essential elements of academic writing that require research and the use of supporting evidence. A good paper usually utilizes all of them to ensure the effectiveness and appropriateness of utilizing outside sources. All of these writing techniques require adding in-text citations in accordance with the requested format, whether it is MLA, APA, Chicago, or any other one.
Common Citation Mistakes That Result in Plagiarism
Paying more attention to citation is beneficial for the student’s academic success. Avoiding these mistakes will help anyone to prevent the occurrence of plagiarism issues in their papers:
III. How To Detect Plagiarism
How To Find Plagiarism
Basically, there are two major ways one can follow to check both the originality of freshly written text or whether one’s own original work was plagiarized and copied by someone else.
- Rely on Google Search as the first step
While it may appear rather inconvenient, plagiarized texts of non-blogging nature can be detected via simple requests to this huge and properly indexed database of websites and various documents. Instead of searching the occurrence of the checked work’s title only, it is much better to choose a short but peculiar and representative phrase that is unlikely to be written word by word by another person and search for any matches. There is a specific term for such a phrase: statistically improbable phrase (SIP).
One should include this SIP into the search request with and without quotation marks to ensure the broad range of sites is covered. In case Google Search returns specific matches, all links should be closely examined to reveal the plagiarism issue. One must remember that social networks are not included in the scope of indexed content, thus, there are limitations. Google search should be the first, but not the last step in plagiarism prevention.
- Utilize specific software to achieve the desired result
Depending on the nature of content to be checked, various tools might be helpful. For instance, photographers and copywriters have absolutely different requirements and the tool that is relevant for one is useless for the other’s purposes.
Text content owners and writers who want to check the originality of their works can use plagiarism detection tools such as Grammarly, Copyscape, iThenticate, or others. The principle of their functioning is rather similar and adopting this methodology is much more effective than simple search using SIPs or keywords.
Plagiarism checking software not only check the occurrence of phrases and sentences using multiple searching engines, but also apply complex algorithms to compare larger portions of texts and filter specific symbols that are easy to change, for instance whether letter “i” in the text is from Latin alphabet or substituted by the Cyrillic letter to fool search engines.
Noteworthy, bloggers, photographers, musicians, and other people who produce original content of specific types, not necessarily text-based ones, can also enjoy the possibilities of software designed to meet their needs, even despite the fact that it is harder to detect plagiarism in these spheres than for a writer.
How it Works
Step 1. Place Order
Complete a language test, which was designed for academic writers. In such a way, every writer gets a chance to prove that his language skills are strong and he can complete an essay or any other assignment not depending on its complexity.
Step 2. Receive Bids and Assign
If the language test is completed positively, we ask the writer to complete an essay on a given topic, considering a tight deadline. It helps us to understand whether the candidate is able to research and analyze information, wrapping it in smooth language and considering the deadlines.
Step 3. Download and Rate Scholar
If both tests are completed successfully, the writer obtains access to the orders and can start working. However, he is supervised by the Quality Assurance team to avoid all the possible mistakes.