What is Plagiarism? How to avoid it? Tips & tricks from the EXPERT

“Text similarity is only acceptable below 10%.”

This sentence often baffles students writing researches for the first time.
I remember students used to line up outside my office the day after I shared their research guidelines with them only to ask “What is a similarity index?”, “If we don’t copy the literature how will we prove our research’s credibility?” In my 10 years as a research supervisor the question of what exactly plagiarism is has never left me alone. So here’s a detailed explanation and some tricks to help you stay away from plagiarism.

Plagiarism, to put simply, is when you copy someone else’s work and do not give them credit for it. To prove your research’s credibility and to present a strong study researchers need to refer to previous literature however it is critical to provide due references and credit other authors. Similarity index of your study can vary depending on your field and institution, usually similarity index is acceptable below 10% however in fields like medical and law the similarity index can go up to 20%.

Why Does Plagiarism Matter?

Imagine you come up with a ground-breaking theory that can possibly change the dynamics of your field and someone else steals your idea, starts telling the world about it without crediting you. IT’S A FRAUD! Similar is the case with research, every idea that is presented is much like a ground-breaking theory it adds to the existing studies of that topic and even that particular field therefore not citing any author’s work is considered academic dishonesty and is frowned upon. Plagiarism is a breach of discipline and depending on your institution there can be serious consequences of plagiarising.

To sum it up, here’s why you should consider citing:

  1. Citing adds credibility to your research.
    Yes, citing makes your study stronger but that does not mean you have to copy what other authors write. Paraphrase the information and give the authors their due credit.
  2. Allows readers to locate your sources. A well cited paper helps readers in identifying what sources you used and helps them go back to those papers to understand the studies better. Making it easier for readers to track down the research and judge the relevance and accuracy of your paper.
  3. Helps omit PlagiarismThere can be serious consequences of Plagiarism, as a student you can fail your course and as an academic writer it can taint your reputation and career. You could also be held legally accountable for plagiarising.

What happens if you Plagiarize?

Mr. Mark was a very well reputed PhD professor. He executed a dissertation on global economics however more than 70% of his work was plagiarized. Mr. Mark, as a result, was laid off due to academic misconduct. Plagiarism cost him not just his job but also scarred his reputation, he was banned from several well reputed journals.

Plagiarism has unchangeable effects not only on your research but also on you. It can taint your professional and academic reputation.
Authors can get banned from publishing their research, most journals reject authors with plagiarized content.
Plagiarized content can also lead to funding bodies rejecting your proposal. Other than that, plagiarism can lead to legal issues.

Plagiarism is not limited to research writing, your college professor may also have strict anti plagiarism rules for essays, exams and assignments. This is to train you for academic writing and reading.

Types Of Plagiarism

Direct Plagiarism

This is also known as copy and paste plagiarism. This is when you copy someone’s work from a particular source without giving them credit.

Example: All marketing strategy is built on STP : Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. A company discovers different needs and groups in the marketplace, targets those needs and groups that it can satisfy in a superior way, and then positions its offering so that the target market recognizes the company’s distinctive offering and image.
(Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller)

Plagiarized: All marketing strategy is built on STP : Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. A company discovers different needs and groups in the marketplace, targets those needs and groups that it can satisfy in a superior way, and then positions its offering so that the target market recognizes the company’s distinctive offering and image.

The correct way: Marketing strategies are formed on segmentation, targeting and positioning. Companies identify segments and needs and then focus on fulfilling those needs to effectively satisfy their consumer segment in order to have a unique advantage in the consumers eyes.

(Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller)

Mosaic Plagiarism

Also known as patchwork plagiarism, this is when ideas and phrases are copied from someone else’s work without citation.


Original text:  “Store environment, money availability and credit card availability, time availability influence the impulse buying behaviour but social influence does not have any effect.”

(Nasreen Khan)

“Social networks can play a relevant role in motivating impulse buying behaviour”
(Laura Aragoncillo and Carlos Orús)

Plagiarized: Store environment, money availability, credit card availability, time availability and social networks influence impulse buying behavior but social influence does not have any effect.
The correct way: In previous studies factors like store environment, monetary funds and availability of credit cards have affected impulse buying. (Nasreen Khan) Social networks can also influence impulse buying. (Laura Aragoncillo and Carlos Orús)

Auto Plagiarism

This is when the author reuses their work without acknowledgment.

Example: If I conclude “Employee motivation can vary due to work environment.” in a study about Motivation at workplace and then reuse this in another one of my own studies without accrediting my previous work it would be considered Auto Plagiarism.

Incorrect Citation

It is important to keep track of your references. Incorrect citation  is when you give credit of one author to another. This is mostly unintentional; it can be as simple as mixing up names of two authors or referring to an inauthentic source. However it is crucial to keep track of each reference and check their credibility to avoid any such mistakes.

Example: There is a directional relationship between young customers’ impulse buying behaviors and two visual merchandising techniques: in-store product display and product shelf position.
(Laurent Hubrechts)

Plagiarized: Impulse buying behaviour is related to shelf position and in-store product display.
(Lauren Matt)

The correct way: Impulse buying behaviour is related to shelf position and in-store product display.
(Laurent Hubrechts)

Global Plagiarism

This is when you submit an entire paper written by someone else, hiring others to write for you or submitting another person’s paper is Global Plagiarism.

Example: You get a friend or colleague to do you a favour and write your paper for you. This would be considered Global Plagiarism.
I have had students sitting blank in vivas after doing this particularly so be careful!

How to detect Plagiarism?

In today’s day and age detecting plagiarism is easier. There are different paid and unpaid detectors available to check plagiarism. These detectors compare your work to previous researches and articles to highlight any plagiarized content.
It is recommended to run a plagiarism check before turning your paper in. Most institutions in the UK use Turnitin as a standard plagiarism checker. A  turnitin generated report has text highlighted in red, orange yellow, green and blue colours. Each of these colours have different meanings. Red stands for 75%-100% matching text. Although most institutes use turnitin but here are some other top rated softwares which can also provide quality reports:

  • Grammarly
  • Unicheck
  • Ephorus
  • Quetext

Here are some free plagiarism detectors you can use:

  • Small SEO tools
  • Copyleaks
  • Prepostseo
  • PaperRater
  • DupliChecker

Tips and tricks:
We have learned what plagiarism is, gone through plagiarism examples but how to avoid it? Here’s your answer:

Tips and tricks

DO’s And Don’ts!!



  • We learned plagiarism is a serious crime, for which legal actions can be taken.
  • We learned that to avoid plagiarism some measures can be taken which include keeping a keen eye on our references, paraphrasing, and adding in our unique ideas.
  • We learned how to avoid plagiarism.
  • We understood the importance of  a plagiarism detector.
Read more

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Meet Dr. Sara Nathan

About Dr. Sara Nathan

I am Dr. Sara Nathan and I have done a Ph.D. in aviation management. I have experience of 10 years in mentoring UK’s Students. Over this decade. I enjoy being able to help researchers all around the world as imparting valuable information has always been my passion. Writing & Reading are my passions. For detail about me and to read my other blog you can visit my profile:

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