Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ACG Series: Plagiarism: Unit 2

In this Academic Communication Guide (ACG), learn about plagiarism and how to avoid it.

Unit 2: Plagiarism - Common Forms of Plagiarism

Unit Objectives:  

At the end of this ten-minute unit, you will be able to:  

a) Identify the most common forms of plagiarism, and  

b) Explain how and why these forms of plagiarism are committed. 

Unit 2 Contents

Introduction

7 Common Types of Plagiarism

1. Vebatim

2. Cutting and pasting from the Internet without clear acknowledgement

3. Poor paraphrasing

Quick Check

4. Failure to acknowledge assistance

5. Inaccurate citation

Quick Check

6. Auto-Plagiarism

7. Collusion

Unit Summary

End-of-Unit Exercise

Introduction

As explained in the previous unit, plagiarism is more than simply copying and pasting others’ work, and it can be done unwittingly. Have you ever taken an image from a popular blockbuster you liked, added a caption to it and sent it to your friend as a meme? If you were to include the same image in your project without giving the creator of the image due credit, it counts as an act of plagiarism. This applies to all forms of media, including YouTube videos, Instagram pictures and even lyrics from a song on Spotify, which are traditionally not considered to be ‘academic’.

Therefore, it is important for you to know some of the common forms of plagiarism. Among others, the University of Oxford (n.d.) lists seven kinds of plagiarism:

7 Common Forms of Plagiarism

1. Verbatim (copied, quoted, or translated in exactly the same words) without acknowledgement of the source

In academic writing, quotations are required to be identified using quotation marks or indentation and with complete referencing of their sources. There needs to be a clear differentiation of which components of your writing have been drawn from others and which are your own work. Moreover, all written assignments in NTU are submitted through a plagiarism detection software called Turnitin, which generates a similarity report by matching a student’s submission against an archive of internet documents, internet data, a repository of previously submitted papers and a subscription repository of periodicals, journals and publications (Australian National University, n.d.).

Example of verbatim plagiarism detected by Turnitin

 

2. Cutting and Pasting from the Internet without clear acknowledgement

The Internet is arguably the first place we turn to when looking for information. Nonetheless, any information accessed online must be cited and included in your reference list. Turnitin is also able to detect copied information from internet sources.

Do note that it is also imperative that you scrutinise any information from the Internet because of the proliferation of fake news. Most websites (even some reputable ones) do not have the same rigorous process of scholarly peer reviews as published academic sources.

3. Poor Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing the work of others by altering a few words or simply their order, or by closely following the structure of their argument, is still regarded as plagiarism if due acknowledgement is not given to the author(s).

Example of paraphrasing plagiarism detected by Turnitin

Quick Check

Is the following statement true or false?

You are allowed to lift quoted material directly from an academic source.

Answer:

True. You are allowed to do so but must cite the source and include a reference list.

4. Failure to acknowledge assistance

For some projects, such as your dissertation, you are allowed to seek assistance from others. This could be your fellow students, laboratory technicians and other external sources. It is necessary to acknowledge any form of guidance that leads to significant changes of content or approach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit: Sophia Soh and Anna Lagerstroem (2021), Asian School of the Environment, NTU

 

5. Inaccurate Citation

It is important to cite correctly, according to the conventions of your discipline. There are different types of citation styles, such as APA, MLA, IEEE and so forth. If you cannot gain access to a primary source, you must make it clear in your citation that your knowledge of the work has been derived from a secondary source. In addition to defining primary and secondary sources, note that some citation styles do not allow citations of secondary sources, e.g., IEEE.

Example of a citation of a secondary source

(Tan, 2005, as cited in Hashim & Pakir, 2015)

Quick Check

Scenario:

You are struggling to complete your dissertation. You approach a senior, who is also a research assistant in your department. He shows you his essay submitted to the same module in a previous year. You decide to slightly amend one of his sentences and incorporate it into your paper without citing it.

Which type(s) of plagiarism has been committed?

Answer:
Technically, you have committed paraphrasing plagiarism (by altering the original) and failing to acknowledge assistance. Remember that you should seek help when you need it, but you should not claim the work as your own. Citation styles provide a way to cite even unpublished material like seniors’ essays. Alternatively, think about whether you really need that sentence in your essay.

6. Auto-Plagiarism

Auto-plagiarism is also known as self-plagiarism. This happens when a student submits work for an assessment that has already submitted (partially or in full) to fulfil the requirements of another assignment, project, or degree course. When possible, you should clearly reference your own previous work to avoid this.

7. Collusion

Collusion refers to unauthorised collaboration between students (University of Cambridge, n.d.). Collaborative learning is a useful study technique as it can allow you and your peers to gain a deeper insight into the topic you are discussing. However, you need to know the difference between collaboration and copying.

In a scenario where two students submit their respective essays (that have similar content) into Turnitin, the software would highlight the matching parts on both papers. When in doubt, it is best to seek clarification from your tutor or supervisor on whether collaboration with your peers might be allowed on your project.

Unit Summary

You have reached the end of the second unit of this module. In this unit, you learnt the various common types of plagiarism and why they are committed. In academic settings, plagiarism can be avoided by using accepted citation styles like APA, MLA or IEEE. 

End-of-Unit Exercise

Match each of the following scenarios with the type of plagiarism that describes it.

  1. Though they made individual submissions, Nareen and Jaafar worked on their assignment together and shared ideas with each other. These ideas were used by both students. 

·

·

i. Auto-plagiarism

  1. Due to a lack of time, Alex simply copied the links of the websites he retrieved information for his essay from and pasted them into his reference list without formatting it. 

·

·

ii. Paraphrasing

  1. In her team’s report, Sharon lifted the phrase “contactless automated feature also helps us to safeguard our operators’ safety” from a website to describe the autonomous trolley they had designed. 

·

·

iii. Cutting and pasting from the Internet

  1. Jane realised that her final assignment for the module Engineering Communications II had a similar scope to one she submitted in her past polytechnic final year module. She decided to dig up her old paper and reuse parts of it for the Engineering Communications II assignment. 

·

·

iv. Collusion

  1. In an attempt to avoid detection, Ali takes information from three different websites and pieced them together without any editing for his essay. 

·

·

v. Inaccurate citation 

  1. Liu Bing sought advice from a marketing consultant for his project. The consultant gave him an existing model that his company had used in a few of their campaigns. Liu Bing did not indicate the name and source of the model in his report. 

·

·

vi. Verbatim

  1. Not wanting her writing to appear the same as the newspaper article she read, Yanti switched some of the words that the author had used. 

·

·

vii. Failure to acknowledge assistance 

 

 

Answers: a - iv, b - v, c - vi, d - i, e - iii, f - vii, g - ii