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What is Plagiarism? Definition, Types, How to Avoid, Laws

  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 17 Aug, 2021

Plagiarism is derived from the Latin word “Plagiarius” meaning “kidnapper”. Plagiarism means stealing or copying another’s work and representing it as own work. On Internet, everything is available for free. We can share, upload, download, view, or search any text, audio, and video. Everything is there for free. The availability of anything and everything on the internet has made our lives easier but people make misuse of this advantage of the internet by representing other’s work as their own for fame, for academic benefits, for money, for personal interests, etc. 

Plagiarism is most commonly practiced in academics and researches. On the internet, we have all kinds of literary articles, educational content, research papers, etc available for free. This facilitates everyone and assists them in gaining knowledge and becoming literate. Earlier when there were no Internet people either had to visit libraries when they wanted to study or know anything or had to purchase expensive books. But now we just type the topic in our browser and we get thousands of search results. As a result, some people use these articles, research papers, educational content in an adverse manner.

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Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. We should have the knowledge of what can be called plagiarized content and what not. Following are the key points to understand what can be called as plagiarism:



  • If we use another person’s work under our name.
  • If we copy other’s ideas and words and don’t give them the credit.
  • If we download copyrighted images or music and present them as our own.
  • If we copy maximum words and modify them so that we can cleverly use them under our own name.
  • If we use someone else’s copyrighted music or video for our own music cover or video.
  • If we recreate an image, video, music, article, etc in such a manner that it is quite similar to the original one.

Types of Plagiarism

There are several types of plagiarism. In this article, we will get to know the common ones:

  • Complete Plagiarism: Complete Plagiarism is the most extreme form of plagiarism. In this plagiarism, a person completely copies someone else’s work such as a research paper, article, image, etc, and represents it as their own work. This form of plagiarism is similar to identity theft or stealing.
  • Verbatim: Verbatim is also known as direct plagiarism. When we read a book we must have observed that if any statement that a famous person has made is always represented in double quotations and is highlighted so that we get to know that it is said by this particular person. Similarly consider a person writing an article and mentioning someone’s else work or words that too exactly the same. But this person doesn’t represent it in quotation marks. Then that person is said to be exhibiting direct plagiarism. Hence copying another person’s work word to word and not representing it in quotation marks is known as Verbatim or direct plagiarism.
  • Self Plagiarism: This kind of plagiarism is the duplication of a person’s own work. It is also known as auto plagiarism. It occurs when a person copies some words of his own published work and uses the same for another work. This form of plagiarism is commonly observed in research journals. Researchers may make re-use of their research work for another research work, however, the percentage of re-usage must be according to those set by the publishing journals if they allow them to do so.
  • Source-Based Plagiarism: This form of plagiarism is most commonly observed in research work. In the research paper one needs to provide references that have contributed to their work, If a person provides wrong references that do not exist, or that are not relating to the work then it is known as source-based plagiarism. The falsification of data or its fabrication is also source-based plagiarism. Falsification and fabrication of data are manipulating or representing false or non-existing data.
  • Accidental Plagiarism: This kind of plagiarism mostly occurs due to a lack of knowledge. If we don’t know how to paraphrase, cite and quote a research work we leave the work as it is and it results in accidental plagiarism.

Why is plagiarism unethical?

  • Plagiarism is unethical because we are representing someone’s other work as our own without giving them the right to. In the real world if someone else takes our things without our permission then we call that person a “thief” and doing so is considered as a punishable offense. Similarly if in the virtual world someone copies someone else’s work it is unethical and is a punishable offense.
  • Plagiarism affects the integrity of academics. Researchers are given the degree of Ph.D. on basis of their research works, students are given grades according to their homework. If we will be practicing plagiarism we will not be gaining any knowledge. We may even succeed in getting our Ph.D. degree or good grades but that will put our career at risk and is a threat to our future. We will be a risk for society, organizations where we may work as we do not have the complete knowledge of the corresponding work.
  • If we use the plagiarized content for our personal benefits such as monetary gains, fame, etc then it is unethical because we are being benefitted for what we actually have not done. We are being rewarded without actually performing well or giving our 100 percent to get that reward. It is immoral to do so.

How to avoid plagiarism?

There are certain steps we can follow in order to avoid plagiarism.

  • Always give credit to the person whose work you are including in your own work. Make use of double quotations to prevent verbatim.
  • Build your own ideas and thoughts and use them in your work. Do not copy another person’s ideas or work. Develop yourself and work on yourself so that you can enhance your thought process. Increase the domain of your knowledge.
  • Make use of paraphrasing. Paraphrasing means the representation of an idea or thought in our own words in such a manner that the original essence of that idea remains the same. But we should also do paraphrasing in such a manner that it does not convert to plagiarism.
  • Use online plagiarism checker tools. There are many sites that offer plagiarism checker tools. These sites check your work against thousands of other works available on the internet and give you a percentage of plagiarized or unique content. They can even tell from which site the content is copied. We should always use plagiarism checker tools in order to prevent plagiarism. Some of the plagiarism checking tools are – Grammarly, smallseotools, turnitin, quetext, etc.
  • Always provide correct references in your research paper or article.
  • Learn how to cite your articles, provide references, use double quotations, etc. You should know how to write a scholarly article or book or research paper before you begin writing.
  • If you are using someone else’s videos, images, or audios in your own video, etc always ask them first, and even after that provide them the credit for the same.
  • Keep your morals high. Be educated about plagiarism and be an ethical person. As in real life, you don’t do bad things as you know the differentiation between what is good and bad similarly teach your inner conscience that plagiarism is unethical and you should not make use of plagiarized content.

Laws against plagiarism

There are many laws against plagiarism. Some of them are mentioned below-

  • In section 57 of the Indian Copyright Act 1957, authors have “the right to claim authorship of their works among other things. It grants the authors the special right to be attributed for their work. The statute recognizes the right to attribution analogous to the rights not to be plagiarized.”
  • In section 63 of the ICA 1957, “a convicted infringer is liable to be imprisoned between six months to three years, and to be fined between fifty thousand and two lakh rupees”.
  • University Grants Commission or UGC has provided a certain set of guidelines that need to be followed by universities in order to prevent plagiarism in academic activities.

Sample Questions

Question 1. What is plagiarism?

Solution:

Plagiarism is stealing or copying another’s work and representing it as our own work without giving them the credit.

Question 2. Why is plagiarism unethical?

Solution:



Plagiarism is unethical because we are representing someone else works as our own without giving them the right to. It also affects academic integrity adversely.

Question 3. What is verbatim?

Solution:

Copying another person’s work word to word and not representing it in quotation marks is known as Verbatim. Verbatim is also known as direct plagiarism.

Question 4. What is paraphrasing?

Solution:

Paraphrasing means the representation of an idea or thought in our own words in such a manner that the original essence of that idea remains the same

Question 5. Mention any law against plagiarism.

Solution:

In section 57 of the Indian Copyright Act 1957, authors have “the right to claim authorship of their works among other things. It grants the authors the special right to be attributed for their work. The statute recognizes the right to attribution analogous to the rights not to be plagiarized.”




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