What is plagiarism?

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What is plagiarism?

Let's talk about plagiarism today. Plagiarism refers to the act of using someone else’s work, ideas, or words without proper attribution or permission. It involves presenting someone else’s intellectual property as your own. 

See the example below: 

Definition of Plagiarism: “Plagiarism is using somebody else’s words and passing them off as your own.” - Yateendra Joshi, Writer, Editage Insights. 

The above example gives attribution to the original source from which the sentence was taken. One way in which you could avoid plagiarism is by citing the source (source is linked here) and/or the original author. Note also that the definition itself is in quotes.  

So, what is plagiarism? Plagiarism occurs when an individual intentionally or unintentionally uses someone else’s work (text, images, music, videos, data, etc.) and does not give attribution.  

Examples of Plagiarism: 

  1. Direct Copying: Example - Using “copy-pasted” text from a source without quotation marks or proper citation. 

  1. Paraphrasing Without Attribution: Writing someone else’s work in your own words without giving credit (such as a reference or a link). This can also include the use of generative AI in writing or rewriting text without giving references and declaring that AI was used. 

  1. Self-Plagiarism: Reusing your own previously published data, images or text is considered self-plagiarism. 

  1. Incomplete or Incorrect Citations: Providing insufficient or inaccurate references, making it difficult or impossible for the reader to find the original source. 


Plagiarism in Research: In academic and research contexts, plagiarism undermines the integrity of scholarly work. Researchers must be very careful and thorough to cite sources and follow ethical guidelines.  

How to Avoid Plagiarism: 

Avoid Copy-Paste: One way to truly avoid plagiarism in your writing is to not copy-paste at all! While this may seem to be a difficult proposition, it is truly the only way to remain authentic – whether you are new to writing or a seasoned writer! One way that I manage my writing to remain below the plagiarism radar is to read the source, form a thought in my mind about what I wish to say, and then write a sentence or even paragraph without looking. Your own style of writing will come out when you do this, for sure! 

Cite Sources Properly: Use appropriate citation styles (e.g., APA, MLA) for both direct quotes and paraphrased content. In academic writing, it is important to follow the style manuals and guidelines when it comes to referencing other’s work, be it text, data or figures. Anything that you use without prior permission or appropriate attribution can be considered plagiarism. 

Use Generative AI Tools With Caution: What if you are trying to write in a language that is not your own native language? Is it now easier to simply copy-paste, or ask for help by prompting a generative AI platform? Undoubtedly this is becoming more and more common practice. However, do you know that just as we can use AI for writing help, there are AI-assisted plagiarism checkers at the other end, assisting reviewers and publishers? If one's writing even passes the initial cut and your manuscript is published, future technology will only get better and better. Do you want to risk putting plagiarized content into your published manuscript only to invite scrutiny, investigation and potentially, retractions in the future? 

Conclusion: All these concerns are applicable to anything that you “borrow” from someone else in your writing. That means images too! Nowadays, sophisticated methods are enabling the detection of plagiarism and image manipulation. Once again, by tricking software to get something published today, one runs into the likelihood of being “found out” in the future. Is it worth that risk?  

Does your manuscript meet standard academic writing norms? If unsure, try Editage’s English editing services, where a professional academic editor performs a thorough check of the language and style used in your article.

Additional reading:  

What you MUST know about plagiarism | Editage Insights

What Is Plagiarism? | Definition & Examples (scribbr.com) 






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Published on: Apr 01, 2024

She has continuously been active in academia and scientific communication both in the U.S. and in India.
See more from Radhika Vaishnav


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