What Is Plagiarism – Definition and Tools for Detection

In today’s world where the internet is flooded with open access literature, plagiarism is a major concern that goes beyond just academics. It raises concerns about being authentic and ethical in both academic and professional work, emphasizing the importance of being vigilant across diverse areas.

What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is an act of intellectual theft that compromises integrity of the academic community. It involves the unauthorized use of others’ work without permission or proper credit, creating an illusion of original authorship.

Knowing what plagiarism is crucial for academic integrity. Plagiarism comes in various forms: complete, self, and direct plagiarism, along with paraphrasing and source-based plagiarism.

Mosaic plagiarism involves blending text from different sources. Accidental plagiarism, done unintentionally, can result in serious consequences. Understanding these types is important for maintaining ethical standards in academic journey.

Examples of Plagiarism

It is crucial to understand different instances of plagiarism in order to avoid them. The table given below describes a few examples of plagiarism and what they indicate.

Examples of Plagiarism What it Indicates
Paraphrasing a text without proper citation Implies originality even when it is a reworded version of someone else’s thoughts
Providing incorrect information about the source Prevents the readers from verifying the given information
Copying portions of a text verbatim, without using quotation marks Gives the false impression that these words belong to the person presenting them
Reusing your own work without citation Leads to a misconception that it is an entirely new work and not derived from previous research
Submitting a text entirely produced by someone else (e.g., a paper purchased from a ghostwriter) Obstructs personal learning and undermines academic integrity

Why Plagiarism Is Wrong and Why Does It Matter?

The impact of plagiarism goes beyond academic guidelines. It breaches academic integrity, violating the core principle of fair use of intellectual property. It involves presenting others’ ideas as your own, which reflects poor moral ground and hinders one’s learning process. It also jeopardizes future careers and degrades the level of academic standards.

Maintaining academic integrity by checking for plagiarism and avoiding it is crucial throughout one’s academic journey. It encourages the expression of unique perspectives and cultivates the production of high-quality work. By ensuring originality in one’s writing, proper acknowledgment is granted to the creators of ideas, words, or research.

This fosters a culture of respect for intellectual contributions, and also facilitates scholarly communication by showcasing a diverse array of perspectives and knowledge.

An understanding of scholarly sources and proper citation principles not only enhances the clarity of scientific and academic writing but also upholds the principles of academic integrity. Avoiding plagiarism is not just a moral responsibility; it is also a criminal offense on both ethical and intellectual grounds. Being a good academic is about giving credit where credit is due.

What Is Considered Plagiarism and What Is Not

The most common methods used to incorporate external sources into your work is through quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing, etc. However, it is crucial to recognize that simply using these approaches does not guarantee immunity from plagiarism.

To avoid unintentional plagiarism, meticulous care must be taken in understanding and applying these techniques correctly. For this, we must first grasp the concept of what is plagiarism and what is not.

Approach to integrate external sources What is considered plagiarism What is not considered plagiarism
  • Copying and pasting text without quotation marks and proper citation
  • Altering quotes without indicating changes, misrepresenting the original
  • Using direct quotes with proper quotation marks and citation
  • Correcting errors in a quote using square brackets


  • Merely changing few words from the original text
  • Failing to provide proper citation after paraphrasing
  • Using paraphraser tools to restructure and rephrase ideas, ensuring significant changes
  • Including proper citation after paraphrasing
  • Omitting essential details without proper acknowledgement
  • Presenting summarized content without crediting the source
  • Offering an overview without omitting crucial concepts
  • Properly citing any included quotes


Images or Media Incorporating visuals without permission or proper citation Including media with creative commons license and gaining permission when using other’s copyrighted images
Self-citation Submitting previously published work without permission from co-authors or proper citation Employing one’s own previously published work with proper citation and permission

Common Concerns About

Let’s tackle some concerns associated with plagiarism.

  1. My research requires an extensive amount of quote and paraphrasing. Will my paper be cluttered with distracting citations?

Solution: While some papers feature numerous citations, there are strategies to minimize clutter. Efficient citing can involve collating multiple citations, refraining from repetitive full citations when citing the same source consecutively, using “ibid.” for repeated citations, and deleting citations for widely known facts.

  1. Is there a specific number of sources that I must cite in my work?

Solution: Sources are used to strengthen the findings of a research study. Depending on the context of your work and the section it explores, it may require substantial citations (for e.g. literature review section). Whether you must cite extensively or not should be a decision taken based on your research design and objective.

  1. Should I just completely avoid incorporation of sources as to prevent accidental plagiarism?

Solution: Use of scholarly sources makes your academic work accurate and credible. It also promotes a collaborative approach in the scientific community. The skill to effectively cite relevant scholarly sources is a vital part of academic writing that one must learn in order to enter the realm of academic conversations. For this purpose, you can employ use of citation checkers and generators that help you find relevant sources to strengthen your research arguments.

Tools to Detect and Avoid Plagiarism

Detecting plagiarism using plagiarism detectors is a highly effective approach to prevent unintentional intellectual theft. Utilizing various online tools designed for this purpose ensures the content’s authenticity and safeguards the interest of academic community at large.

Here is a comprehensive analysis of four widely used plagiarism checker and detection tools.

Trinka’s Plagiarism Checker: Trinka’s plagiarism checker examines content for plagiarism by systematically searching through open-access repositories and pay walled content. The generated report provides a comprehensive and accurate analysis and highlights the plagiarized content, while simultaneously providing the percentage of plagiarism and the sources. Apart from plagiarism detection, it also incorporates advanced features like AI-based grammar corrections, refining the overall standard of academic writing. Hence, it becomes the preferred choice of both researchers and students.

Grammarly: Grammarly is known for precise plagiarism detection and automated proofreading. It effectively identifies issues with grammar and sentence structure. However, it is not highly efficient in plagiarism detection as texts go from lightly edited texts (paraphrased sentences, synonyms substitutions, etc.) to other types of content as it often provides only partial matches of the plagiarized parts. It is commonly used by students, professionals, and writers to ensure the grammatical accuracy of their work.

 Quetext: Quetext allows users to cite directly within the tool. It offers a citation assistant that aids in adding missing citations. Similar to Trinka, it distinguishes plagiarism severity in its online report using colors. However, Quetext compares documents only from internet sources and online books, making it less suitable for scholarly sources.

FAQ's on Plagiarism:


Plagiarism has the potential to damage your academic career and reputation. The exact punishment depends on the authorities and institutions. The consequences of plagiarism can be severe, leading to retraction of published research, cancelation of research funding, loss of tenure, and even potential criminal prosecution for copyright infringement with penalties such as hefty fines or imprisonment.

The main causes of plagiarism by students include fear of failure, poor time-management skills, lack of enforcement of penalties, insufficient note-taking skills, or inadequate understanding of proper attribution.

Plagiarism in research methodology involves using another author's words or ideas pertaining especially to their methodology section without proper acknowledgment. This is a serious academic offense with consequences such as paper retractions and loss of credibility.

The consequences of plagiarism at university include failing the assignment, annulment of your grades, facing disciplinary action, potential loss of financial aid, or even expulsion.

Unintentional or accidental plagiarism is when you accidentally use someone else's ideas without proper citation. Even though it is not done on purpose, it can lead to serious consequences, just like intentional plagiarism.

To avoid plagiarism,

  • You can keep track of your sources
  • Incorporate paraphrased or quoted texts after properly citing them
  • Credit authors through in-text citations and reference lists
  • And use a plagiarism detector tool like Trinka plagiarism checker.

Plagiarism detectors are tools or software that scan entered texts against existing content to identify plagiarized texts. They help to maintain the originality of the writing. One of the most widely used plagiarism detector tools is Trinka plagiarism checker.

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