Location: Bowdoin / Office of the Dean of Student Affairs / Academic Honesty / Common Plagiarism Types

The Common Types of Plagiarism

There are different types of plagiarism and all are serious violations of academic honesty. We have defined the most common types below and have provided links to examples.

Direct Plagiarism 

Direct plagiarism is the word-for-word transcription of a section of someone else’s work, without attribution and without quotation marks. The deliberate plagiarism of someone else's work is unethical, academically dishonest, and grounds for disciplinary actions, including expulsion. [See example.]

Self Plagiarism

Self-plagiarism occurs when a student submits his or her own previous work, or mixes parts of previous works, without permission from all professors involved. For example, it would be unacceptable to incorporate part of a term paper you wrote in high school into a paper assigned in a college course. Self-plagiarism also applies to submitting the same piece of work for assignments in different classes without previous permission from both professors.

Mosaic Plagiarism

Mosaic Plagiarism occurs when a student borrows phrases from a source without using quotation marks, or finds synonyms for the author’s language while keeping to the same general structure and meaning of the original. Sometimes called “patch writing,” this kind of paraphrasing, whether intentional or not, is academically dishonest and punishable – even if you footnote your source! [See example.]

Accidental Plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism occurs when a person neglects to cite their sources, or misquotes their sources, or unintentionally paraphrases a source by using similar words, groups of words, and/or sentence structure without attribution. (See example for mosaic plagiarism.) Students must learn how to cite their sources and to take careful and accurate notes when doing research. (See the Note-Taking section on the Avoiding Plagiarism page.) Lack of intent does not absolve the student of responsibility for plagiarism. Cases of accidental plagiarism are taken as seriously as any other plagiarism and are subject to the same range of consequences as other types of plagiarism.