Types of Plagiarism : a Complete Guide from Flowcite

Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person. It can be intentional, accidental, and unconscious. Doing so has serious consequences because it violates ethical principles by misusing others’ thoughts and words. In addition, plagiarism undermines personal integrity and credibility.

Unfortunately, plagiarism is common among researchers, even if doing so has ruined countless careers and reputations. Last year alone, the renowned French philosopher Magali Roques became the subject of academic plagiarism investigations and subsequently had several of her journal publications retracted.

Given the massive impact of plagiarism, the majority of researchers try their best to avoid it. Fortunately, they now have access to a slew of tools and platforms that aim to help them do so. Not all of these are foolproof, though, so some may still find themselves accidentally passing off another person’s work as their own.

When avoiding plagiarism, relying on online tools is not enough. Ideally, you should have an in-depth understanding of the various forms that it can come in. Let us take a look at the different types of plagiarism and how best to avoid each one.

The Different Types of Plagiarism

In 2015, plagiarism detection software iThenticate conducted a survey of scientific researchers to determine which types of plagiarism they commonly encountered in the field. Here is a quick breakdown of their top answers, along with examples.

Direct Plagiarism 

Direct plagiarism occurs when one copies word-for-word the work of another with neither quotation marks nor attribution. Many academic institutions consider this one of the most egregious types of plagiarism whether researchers or students do it intentionally or not.


“Temperatures on Earth are slowly rising due to human activity, in particular the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting buildup of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere. It is imperative that we ensure future generations will continue living in a world where polar ice caps and cold temperatures still exist.”


“Scientists who assess the planet’s health see indisputable evidence that Earth has been getting warmer, in some cases rapidly. Most believe that human activity, in particular the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, have influenced this warming trend.”


Avoid Direct Plagiarism by:

  • Enclosing the copied lines in quotation marks and cite the source
  • Correctly paraphrasing the source material into your own words

Mosaic Plagiarism 

Also referred to as “patchwriting,” mosaic plagiarism combines text and ideas from different sources and interlays them with the researcher’s own work without the proper citations. A rewritten version of the original falls under this, too, if it contains keywords or key phrases from the source not enclosed in quotation marks.


“The Maneki Neko Cat is kitsch, often gold ornament ubiquitous in Asian stores around the world. Besides their wide eyes and adorable smile, they are also known for their upraised left paw, which moves back and forth, making it appear as if they are waving at customers and welcoming them in. You can find them sitting on shop counters, usually beside the cash register.”  


“This kitsch, often gold ornament is ubiquitous in Chinatowns and Asian stores around the world, but these cute little…”


“In Hong Kong, they sit on every shop counter, next to every restaurant cash register, next to the canned jackfruit…”


Avoid Mosaic Plagiarism by: 

  • Enclosing terms or phrases in quotation marks if directly copied from the source 
  • Correctly paraphrasing the source material into your own words

Paraphrasing Plagiarism 

As its name suggests, paraphrasing plagiarism involves introducing only minor changes to the source’s text and presenting it without citation. This type of plagiarism often uses synonyms to replace a few original words while both the general structure and thought process remains the same. This type of plagiarism is remarkably common among students, although experienced researchers can easily commit this mistake too.


“The Space Race and NASA’s Apollo Program were both defining moments of the 1960s and early 1970s. However, people and the media alike were already bored by the time Apollo 14 rolled around. The third lunar mission took place in February 1971 and involved astronauts Alan Shepard…”


“When Apollo 14 landed astronauts on the moon for the third time in February 1971, it was met with a week-long yawn by the press and the public. The TV networks carried live coverage of the launch and paid some mind to the long translunar coast, where misfortune had called on Apollo 13…”


Avoid Paraphrasing Plagiarism by:

  • Rewriting the source’s idea in its entirety
  • Using the phrase “according to” before reiterating the source’s idea

Self Plagiarism 

Plagiarism does not just involve external sources. Researchers can improperly cite their past work or reuse it without permission from the appropriate institution. Self plagiarism also consists of submitting the same paper to different classes without the knowledge of both professors. Doing so is grounds for disciplinary sanctions or expulsion in most schools.


“The laboratory mouse or Mus musculus exhibits certain behaviors when subjected to different experiences. For instance, those who were injected with a mixture of lemongrass and malunggay extracts were more hyperactive than those who were not. Moreover, a 2009 study conducted by Cambridge University…”

Source (researcher’s past work): 

“This experiment proves that mice injected with a mixture of Cymbopogon citratus and Moringa oleifera exhibit more hyperactive behavior than mice who were not given the same substance. However, more experiments must be conducted to determine how the same combination will affect human behavior.” 


Avoid Self Plagiarism by:

  • Properly citing all sources used, even if it is your own
  • Asking permission from institutions and professors whenever using your own submitted work as a source 

Avoiding Plagiarism is Easy With Flowcite 

Based on the examples included above, it is easy to see why many researchers end up inadvertently passing off someone else’s work as their own. The fear of committing plagiarism is undoubtedly paralysing; however, a thorough understanding of its many different types combined with the right tool will help ensure that your paper is in top shape.

So, what tools can we use for avoiding plagiarism? If you are just starting out, a quick Google search will show you plenty of free similarity checking tools. However, if you want to invest in the quality of your work and give yourself more time to actually write, then you can go with Flowcite.

Flowcite is an online platform that contains a ton of nifty features, such as integrated proofreading services and a plagiarism checker. It carries the burden of avoiding plagiarism for you, meaning that you can write and present your ideas without fear of improperly citing your sources.

Besides their anti-plagiarism tools, the Flowcite platform also has everything that researchers and students need to create ready-to-publish papers. Our end-to-end academic writing services have streamlined every stage of the researching and writing process with features like:

    • A reference management tool so that you can easily save relevant sources, automatically inserting them into your paper with the proper citations
    • Comment, share, and edit tools that allow for real-time collaboration among colleagues or students 
  • An AI-driven article summariser tool that enables you to evaluate relevant references within minutes, no matter how long they are
  • Integrated proofreading, peer review, and publishing services to ensure that your work is in full compliance with standard publication rules

With these incredible tools, Flowcite saves you from the pesky administrative tasks of the research process and allows you to focus on communicating your ideas instead. 

Sign up for Flowcite today to get started on a seamless, stress-free research and writing process!

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