7 Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism | Definitions, Consequences, how to avoid them)

Introduction to Unintentional Plagiarism

Plagiarism can either be intentional or unintentional. Intentional plagiarism is doing exactly what you know is wrong, but you still go ahead and do it anyways. For example, copying your friends work or cut pasting from another document is intentional plagiarism.

On the other hand, the unintentional plagiarism is where most students do not get it. In most cases, you can do your work and think everything is okay only to realize later that your work is full of plagiarism. Unintentional plagiarism (also known as accidental plagiarism) is where a piece of work gets plagiarized without the person who commits the plagiarism intending to commit it. In other words, it happens by accident. 

What causes Unintentional Plagiarism 

Unlike the intentional plagiarism, the unintentional plagiarism happens without you knowing. If fact, you may even be surprised that you did everything in the right way only to be shocked later when your teacher tells you that your work was plagiarized. 

READ My professor accused me of plagiarism and gave me a 0% on my final grade. I did not cheat, what can I do?

Unintentional plagiarism happens when you think you are doing the right thing but in real sense you have forgotten to do the right thing leading to plagiarism in your work. For us to fully learn how it happens, let us know the real examples of unintentional plagiarism. You also need to acquaint yourself with the 10 best plagiarism checkers in the world

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

  • Paraphrasing from one source: This is one of the most common types of unintentional plagiarism committed by students’ world over. You are given an essay; you go online then find someone already wrote an essay on exact topic. You find it too good to avoid. You go ahead and paraphrase everything from the introduction, body, till the conclusion. Some even go as far as copying the references and the quotes plus the illustrations used in the paper. The funny thing with such plagiarism is that some software may not detect it, but it will be detected during the manual plagiarism You should never paraphrase from one source no matter how good it is. This is the only sure way of avoiding unintentional plagiarism. Always try to borrow from as many sources as possible so that you get ideas from many sources.
  • Wrong referencing: This is also another form of unintentional plagiarism that takes place every day. A student writes a good paper then he realizes that he only used like 4 sources to write his research paper. The research paper instruction demands that the students consult not less than 20 references. He chooses to go to Google Scholar or any other platform and borrow sources then cites the paper so that his work has the needed 20 references. He or she happily submits the paper thinking that is free from plagiarism. That is the biggest mistake of a student. Always ensure you use the right reference such that you should never put a wrong citation in your paper.
  • Lack of referencing: This is another serious form of plagiarism especially for new students who have no experience writing essays. It is very funny, but it is possible for somebody to write a whole paragraph without any single reference yet the idea in that paragraph is not his/her original idea. When teachers are marking your work, they always try to check if a paragraph has got any reference. If the paragraph contains your own ideas, then it is fine not to have references. However, if your paragraph contains borrowed ideas but with no reference, then it amounts to plagiarism. Always ensure all the paragraphs are properly cited in the proper format and all those citations are well listed in the bibliography section of your paper.
  • Excessive Quotation: It as academically advised that quotes or quotations should not exceed about 1/3 of your paper contents. For example, when you write a 300-word article, the quotes should not be more than 100 words. If you write a 300-word paper then the quotes are 200 words, then that amounts to plagiarism. Remember, the quotes are already part of the allowed plagiarism, but it should not be too much in a paper.
  • Failure to use your own thoughts: Even if you are writing a research paper, you really need to use some of your thoughts. It is often referred to as the critical analysis. Even in essay writing, you are expected to give your own views. For example, when writing about the pros and the cons of anything, you really need to give personal reasons why you think the pros outweighs the cons. What we are saying here is that your paper should not be 100% external material. You need to borrow from the outside sources, then use those sources to support your thinking.
  • Submitting a work already submitted earlier: This can happen in two ways. You may take an assignment that you already submitted earlier then submit the same assignment simply because the questions are the same and you think the work is original because the initial submission was original work. It can also happen when you take students papers from websites such as course hero then submit it simply because the work belongs to other students, and you believe the student did an original work. You should never ever submit a work that had already been submitted for marking. The moment it has been submitted; the work automatically becomes plagiarized. It even becomes worse for plagiarized
  • Failing to cite non original diagrams, illustrations, and concepts: Many students assume that a diagram should not have a citation. All the diagrams, charts, figures, illustrations should be properly cited. Remember the definition of plagiarism is to use somebody’s concepts, ideas, or illustrations. The moment you use another person’s diagram and fail to cite it, that is the moment to begin your plagiarism journey.

How to avoid Unintentional plagiarism

The first step to avoiding unintentional plagiarism is to make yourself aware of the very many types of unintentional plagiarism. Awareness is the most important thing when it comes to avoiding the intentional plagiarism. The awareness touches on the key points of avoiding the unintentional plagiarism as shown below.

  • Never paraphrase from one single source. Consult as many sources as possible in your academic work and cite all of them accordingly.
  • Do not use wrong references in your work. Always ensure that your references are available and verifiable.
  • Never leave some paragraphs without references. Always ensure that all paragraphs are properly referenced with the necessary formats.
  • Never use many quotations that exceed one third of your work. Always limit the use of quotations as much as possible in your work.
  • Never rely too much on research and forget about your personal input. All papers must have a personal reflection that supports or differs with the research contents and the rationale for doing so.
  • Never submit a paper that was already submitted in the previous semester or previous years thinking that it has no plagiarism. All submitted papers are plagiarized to the core and majority of them fall under what is called repository plagiarism.
  • Always use Turnitin to check your draft paper before making the final submission. This will ensure that you identify all the potential plagiarized content within your paper and remove them in good time before making the final submission (Contact us if you want Turnitin Access)

How to get access to Turnitin plagiarism checker

Turnitin is the most effective plagiarism checker.

To get the best plagiarism checker, we need to ask yourself these two questions.

What is the most popular plagiarism checking software? The most popular plagiarism checking software used by universities and colleges around the world is Turnitin.

For Turnitin to get the trust of most universities across the world, it means that they already tested it in terms of quality and reliability.

Another questions we need to ask is this.

Which plagiarism software can detect plagiarism in a student paper that was submitted last semester?


Only Turnitin has that capability.

From the above explanation, we can conclude that the most popular plagiarism checking is Turnitin.

You can get Turnitin one year subscription license from us at a small fee of $29.99

Our Turnitin student subscription comes with the following benefits

  • It is a non-repository Turnitin (no risk of your work being stored in the Turnitin database)
  • We provide 24/7 technical support (no risk of your classes expiring for long hours due to Turnitin update.
  • It is safe, secure, and privacy is guaranteed (we only set up the account using your email and a unique password that you can change anytime to keep off intruders).
  • The Turnitin checks are unlimited (you can check as many papers as you want on daily basis).

If you are a student and the first and the second options does not work for you, then we highly recommend you try this one.

It will save you lots of problem related to plagiarism. Finally, if you have problems with plagiarism, then we can also help you with the professional plagiarism removal services at a small fee. 



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