8 Types of Plagiarism

Learning Dec 9, 2022
In this article

Plagiarism is a very serious academic offense, and it comes in many forms.

The 4 common types of plagiarism are self plagiarism, mosaic plagiarism, accidental plagiarism, and verbatim plagiarism.

The other 4 types of plagiarism we'll be covering fall under those main 4 categories, but are more specific to certain situations. These specific types are paraphrasing plagiarism, aggregate plagiarism, complete plagiarism, and source-based plagiarism.

1) Self plagiarism

Self plagiarism, also known as auto plagiarism, occurs when one reuses their own work that was published elsewhere.

For example, a student may copy a portion of an essay they wrote for one class, and use it in an essay for another class. Although it is their own work, it was repurposed without credit to the original essay or class.

Citations are always required, even if it's one's own work.

Need to Cite sources used by you?
QuillBot's Citation Generator will enable you in quickly creating citations in APA, MLA, Chicago, and other styles.

2) Mosaic plagiarism

Mosaic plagiarism, or patchwork plagiarism, occurs when the writer:

  • Copies a quote from another source but doesn't use quotation marks
  • Copies the original source's structure but replaces all words/phrases with synonyms
  • Entwines their own words with another writer's words without proper citations

The finished product will often look like a new piece of writing; however, portions will have been stolen from other sources without acknowledgement/proper citations (hence the nickname "patchwork plagiarism").

3) Accidental plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism is just that: an accident. It occurs when the writer unintentionally misses a citation, forgets to use quotation marks, or paraphrases text in a way that's much too similar to the source material.

The consequences for plagiarism are the same whether it's accidental or otherwise. This is why it's important to double check all of your work, or run it through a plagiarism checker.

Accidental plagiarism will still cost you.

Check plagiarism for your text now
QuillBot's detects plagiarism in your text and makes sure that it is polished and error-free

4) Verbatim plagiarism

Verbatim plagiarism, or direct plagiarism, occurs when the writer copies and pastes text from the original source into their essay.

This is what most people think of when they think of plagiarism: an exact transcription of someone else's work without a citation, or even quotation marks (hence the nickname "direct plagiarism").

5) Paraphrasing plagiarism

Paraphrasing plagiarism occurs when a writer paraphrases someone else's work and passes the idea(s) off as their own, meaning they do not properly cite where the paraphrased material originated from.

This is similar to mosaic plagiarism; however, paraphrasing plagiarism often deals with one small section of a larger work, whereas mosaic plagiarism deals with the entire work.

Plagiarism deals with the copying of ideas as well as wordsparaphrased material must include a citation for the original source.

6) Aggregate plagiarism

Aggregate plagiarism occurs when one copies and pastes an entire body of work and includes a citation.

Wait, I thought plagiarism occurs when you don't use a citation!

What makes aggregate plagiarism plagiarism is the fact that the entire text has been lifted from elsewhere. There is no original work included, so although one credits the original source, they are still turning in someone else's work for their project.

7) Complete plagiarism

Similar to both direct and aggregate plagiarism, complete plagiarism occurs when one copies an entire body of work, word-for-word, and does not give credit to the original source.

A few examples are as follows:

  • A student submits a paper written by someone else. This includes paper-cloning plagiarism, which occurs when a student buys a paper from an essay writing agency or similar business, or from another student.
  • An author publishes a book written by another person under their own name and without informing the person who wrote it.

8) Source-based plagiarism

Source-based plagiarism occurs when a writer cites a source incorrectly, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This can happen when the writer:

  • States a fact that is supported by two or more sources, but only cites one
  • Uses a secondary source but doesn't cite the primary source from which it was referenced
  • Cites a source that is incorrectly listed
  • Doesn't complete a citation
  • Cites a source that doesn't exist

Oftentimes, if intentional, these methods are used in order to pad the bibliography/Works Cited page.

Although source-based plagiarism isn't dealing with stolen text like the other types of plagiarism, it is still considered to be highly unethical and can lead to serious consequences.

To conclude,

Self plagiarism, mosaic plagiarism, accidental plagiarism, and verbatim plagiarism are the 4 common types of plagiarism. Paraphrasing plagiarism, aggregate plagiarism, complete plagiarism, and source-based plagiarism are 4 lesser-known types of plagiarism to look out for in your writing.

The number one way to avoid plagiarism is to cite all of your sources completely and accurately.

Plagiarism takes many different forms, and each one is just as bad as the next. Understanding the different types of plagiarism will help you to avoid them moving forward.

If you find yourself overwhelmed or wanting to know more about plagiarism and how to avoid it, here is some related reading:

Happy writing!


What tools can help me avoid plagiarism?

QuillBot offers a Plagiarism Checker, but that’s not all. You can also use our Paraphraser and Citation Generator to help you restate concepts clearly and include all the necessary information as you cite your sources.

Is it plagiarism to use a paraphrasing tool?

The ideal use of any tool involves using it wisely. A paraphrasing tool gives you an excellent way to come up with original wording, but ultimately you make the call about whether to use any particular phrasing. By understanding the different types of plagiarism and following the recommendations in this article, you can avoid plagiarism while using any tool.


Paige Pfeifer

Along with Hannah Skaggs

Paige Pfeifer is any number of things, which include a writer, an editor, and QuillBot’s Communications Manager.
There are a few things she is not, like a hater of lists, or a ghost.
She enjoys reading screenplays and listening to any band that used to play Warped Tour.

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.