Types Of Plagiarism

Now that the severity of plagiarism has been covered, it is important to outline and detail the various types of plagiarism there are; after all research suggests that students mostly plagiarise out of carelessness rather than actual intent. As we have discovered from the previous section, this in no way mitigates the after effects and consequences of being caught plagiarising. Whether it is accidental or deliberate, plagiarism is still something which should be avoided at all costs by modern students. Plagiarism is also a hugely complex issue with multiple factors involved – indeed there are also several different types of plagiarism which a student must remain fully aware of.

Different Types of Plagiarism:

Deliberate Plagiarism

Deliberate plagiarism is the most common form of plagiarism and is the act of attempting to pass off someone else’s work as one’s own. An alternative definition of deliberate plagiarism is that it is the process of actively trying to deceive academic tutors by passing off someone else’s work as their own. Deliberate plagiarism is not only the most common form of plagiarism, but is also the type of plagiarism which carries with it the most severe penalty. This is because with deliberate plagiarism the student has immediately shown themselves to be dishonest and lacking conscientiousness - two particularly damaging attributes in relation to their future career path.


Another common type of plagiarism which occurs in the world of academia is paraphrasing, which is the act of altering a few words but retaining the same sentence structure used by the original author. It is assumed by students that changing a few of the words will prevent their academic tutors from spotting plagiarism but this is not the case. Academic tutors will read the source texts and therefore identify the areas where the student has streamed data which is not their own. As with the first type of plagiarism, this is another example of deliberate plagiarism i.e. that which does not occur by accident and instead involves intent.

Patchwork Paraphrasing

Patchwork paraphrasing is largely the same as paraphrasing as noted above, except that it involves stealing words and ideas from multiple source texts and patching them together. This is equally easy for academic tutors to detect and is just as deceitful and blatantly deliberate as the concept of paraphrasing. A further key point to note with respect to the issue of patchwork paraphrasing is that it can involve the student summarising the key point of an author’s argument without giving them due academic credit by citing their name in the source list at the end of their essay or report. On occasion, the student then attaches another author’s name to this summarised point to cover up the fact that they have used work which is not their own. Additionally, patchwork paraphrasing can often involve an author copying material from several different writers and passing off their arguments as their own.


The concept of bluffing involves reading some key source texts such as books and academic journals, noting down some key ideas so that they seem different though in essence they are the same. This type of plagiarism is equally egregious to deliberate, paraphrasing and patchwork paraphrasing because the student is using the work of other authors and claiming ownership of their words and ideas to overstate the students own knowledge of the subject matter. Bluffing has become an increasingly popular mode of plagiarism in the modern world of academia because students can gain access to a wider variety of sources very quickly due to the availability of the internet. The internet has a vast repository of both books and academic journals therefore students can copy and paste the citations without making any attempt to read and interpret the texts. This therefore gives the impression that they have read widely and contacted a vast array of different authors. However this impression is of course false, and it is very easy for academic tutors to spot when this has occurred.

Stitching Sources

This form of plagiarism has limited visibility and is therefore difficult to detect. This is because the source list is correctly and accurately cited by the student however they have been unable to critically analyse the source texts to produce a work which is truly their own. Stitching sources is still a clear form of plagiarism however it is more likely to be accidental as opposed to deliberate. Stitching sources can also involve a researcher becoming overly reliant on the critical arguments of other authors rather than using their analytical skills to advance a critical comment of their own. This in no way mitigates the harmful after effects of being caught plagiarising such as poor grade attainment thus again highlighting the importance of avoiding plagiarism at all costs.

Using a Copy of Your Own Work

As noted in the previous section, plagiarism of this type is often a surprising concept, but it is no less deceitful than acts such as deliberate paraphrasing. Students may be tasked with questions during the module which are similar to those answered in a previous academic year. They may therefore choose to use their previous work to answer the question believing it to save them time and effort. In some cases students try to allow for plagiarism risk by reworking one or two sections of the previous work to make it better suit the grade criteria of the new assessment. Unfortunately, in the world of academia, you cannot get two grades or degree classifications for the same work therefore even if a student uses their previous work without knowing that it is wrong, it is still classified as plagiarism and this will be reflected in the grades which they attain.

Mosaic Plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism refers to the process of a student using synonyms to replace the words of existing authors in an attempt to pass off the work as their own. Typically, this act of plagiarism often involves the student retaining the author’s main, central idea or argument and simply replacing a few words to pass of the work as their own. This type of plagiarism can often be considered accidental as opposed to deliberate. In some cases however, mosaic plagiarism can scan as an act of deliberate plagiarism because students try to use words to deceive the fact that they have stolen another authors central idea and/or argument. This is easy for academic tutors to spot because they mark essays and reports based on the critical ideas and arguments advanced by you, the student.

Accidental Plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism typically occurs when a student mistakes the views of one author for another, neglects to cite their sources and/or unintentionally paraphrases from a source, whether this be paraphrasing or patchwork paraphrasing. The lack of intent in no way mitigates the damage a high plagiarism score can inflict on the academic validity of the students essay or report answer. The most effective solution to accidental plagiarism is to cite references correctly which can be achieved by utilising online reference generators.

Buying Assignments

Buying assignments is an ever-increasing issue in relation to modern colleges and universities and can incur the most severe penalties. In the case of Bradford Universities, students which are caught buying assignments and submitting as their own individual work will be expelled from the university. This signifies that handing in bought assignments is perhaps the most punishable plagiarism offence which students can commit.

Inaccurate Authorship

Also known as misleading attribution, inaccurate authorship refers to inaccuracies in how students cite authors of an academic piece. In cases where an academic piece has more than 3 authors, students often list just one name to save time in the reference write up process. Doing this is also considered as an act of plagiarism by academic institutions. This is because the authors of the piece have not been given due credit by the student, therefore the content has been misused and plagiarised.


Despite varying in severity, the list of plagiarism typologies listed above should all be avoided by students if they wish to achieve the best grades possible during their studies. Ideally, these warnings should be viewed positively by students as they serve as a reminder of what practices to avoid when formulating an effective answer to the essay or report question facing the student. The use of online sources has significantly contributed to each of these types of plagiarism cropping up more frequently in modern academic institutions such as schools, colleges and universities. This is because the availability of online sources has made it easier for students to gain quick and easy access to a larger volume of source texts. This therefore vastly increases the likelihood of the student misusing some of these sources to boost their chances of attaining higher grade classifications in the subject course which they have chosen for study. Additionally, each of the typologies of plagiarism carries with them the same severity in terms of disciplinary action and penalties faced by the student who is found guilty.

The fact that plagiarism can take on so many forms best highlights how hugely complex it is for colleges and universities to solve. This is because UK academic institutions are constantly faced with the issue of trying to determine whether or not the plagiarism detected has been carried out deliberately or accidently. This is important for academic institutions to establish because then it enables them to administer a penalty which is in proportion. For accidental plagiarism, the penalty should be grade related and actions such as exclusion should be saved for occasions where a student has been found to be deliberately trying to deceive their academic tutor by passing someone else’s work off as their own.