3 Common Myths & Misconceptions About Plagiarism

According to a study conducted by Psychological Record, 36 percent of undergraduates polled admitted to plagiarizing. Plagiarism is a major problem in the academic world, and chances you, you've probably plagiarized another individual's work without even knowing it. You may assume that in order to plagiarize a source, you had to copy it word-for-word, but this simply isn't true. Here are a few other misconceptions and myths about plagiarism:

Myth #1 There Is No Such Thing as Self-Plagiarism

You've written some pretty impressive essays in the past, and now you have a chance to utilize your original work in another classroom. Because you are plagiarizing yourself, it isn't wrong, right? Unfortunately, you can plagiarize yourself, and it is a common misconception that could get you into a lot of trouble with your professor and the university.

Self-plagiarism becomes an even larger issue when you leave the academic world and enter the private or public sector. If you sell your writing or research, and attempt to utilize it again, this is a serious offense.

The best way to prevent self-plagiarism is to always choose an original topic. If an essay topic you are writing is similar to a topic you have researched in the past, utilize different sources and reference your original work to ensure you aren't self-plagiarizing.

Myth #2 If You Reword a Source It Isn't Plagiarism

You've found an amazing source and in an attempt to keep your essay original, you're making sure to not directly quote the source and instead, reword their thoughts and ideas to represent your voice. You may assume this isn't plagiarism because you once again aren't quoting the source verbatim. This type of plagiarism is known as mosaic plagiarism, and it is a very common issue on in both universities and in professional settings.

Many students also mistakenly believe that if they reword a source, but accurately cite this source, this is not a form a plagiarism. However, because you are utilizing the essence and idea of the original author, it is still technically plagiarism.

The most effective way to avoid mosaic plagiarism is to utilize your own unique voice. Often, students will commit mosaic plagiarism when you are not well-versed on the essay's topic, or wait until the last minute to write the paper. Making sure that you are very knowledgeable about the topic and giving yourself plenty of time to write the essay are two easy ways to avoid mosaic plagiarism.

Myth #3 You've Never Committed Accidental Plagiarism

Without knowing it, there is a chance that you have unintentionally plagiarized another author's work. There are several different types of accidental plagiarism, and as the name would suggest, you probably didn't realize you were committing this serious offense.

In addition to mosaic plagiarism, there are other less obvious types of accidental plagiarism. For example, your professor might have told you that if a piece of information is considered general knowledge, it doesn't require a quotation. However, there is another type of general knowledge called field-specific knowledge, which means that anyone in a certain discipline would know the information.

If you rely on common knowledge from a specific field, but utilize the knowledge in an essay for a class dealing with a different field of study, this is technically plagiarism.

Another common type of accidental plagiarism involves not correctly citing a source. For example, if you accidentally forget to provide an accurate citation, or the citation is incomplete, this is considered plagiarism. The best way to avoid this is to take meticulous notes, and to also take your time when creating your citations.

Plagiarism is a serious issue on most college campuses. If you are concerned about accidental plagiarism, or are still confused about what constitutes plagiarism, don't hesitate to ask your professors for more help. Essay proofreaders like Crimson and Ivy can also help.