If you look at any dictionary of the English language, the plagiarism definition varies slightly. Round out all of the plagiarism definitions available, and the final version would indicate that:
- Plagiarism is an action in progress or a completed act
- Plagiarism defines the unlawful passing of someone else’s ideas under the false proposition they are yours
- Plagiarism can be partial or whole
- Plagiarism might also be done on purpose or accidentally
- Plagiarism can be avoided
However, just knowing the meaning of plagiarism gives out useful information but does not solve problems. The answers are usually left behind the scenes. Those nuances, like colour mixing in painting, are responsible for the final look of the picture. So, if you know the terms and the definitions, have at least some familiarity with the backstage action, avoiding plagiarism and understanding it becomes a lot simpler.
First up – plagiarism detection can get really complex
Even though we have disclosed what the term ‘Plagiarism’ actually means, it can get a lot more complicated than that. The difficulties emerge once you begin to wonder and question what level of plagiarism is considered plagiarism. There are those “allowed errors” or mistakes that fall within the borders of acceptable. For example, a basketball player could shoot his or her free throws at a rate above 80%, and he or she will be considered a good free throw shooter. So the acceptable rate of error is around 20%. In plagiarism, the margin for error is a lot smaller. It depends on the assessor. Some assessors say it is 5%, no more. That means your content has to be at least (not meaning at most) 95% original to be considered plagiarism-free.
Many technicalities make it hard to categorise and group plagiarism into small and accurately defined parts. Almost all of it falls under a variety of conditional factors. Oxsic works in a way which prevents our users from falling under scrutiny for plagiarism. Right after completing the check, every user will be able to tell whether the paper is original and authentic or not.
A paper is considered plagiarism when its contents or the main ideas are knocked off and taken from a completely different source. No matter how much paraphrasing, sentence rewriting or other actions the writer makes, if the opinions and content stay precisely the same then it is plagiarised. However, this plagiarism definition can fall subject to debate. Some might consider that two matching words out of a hundred can be traced to copying and cheating while others do not pay attention to even two out of three sentences being identical.
Nevertheless, our system is very refined and using our tips you could reduce the similarity and plagiarism scores right down to zero. Zero means that no one, even professors with biased opinions, clients with strict requirements or bosses with perfectionistic visions in mind, can find room for improvement.
Next up, paraphrasing, similarities and related terms
Plagiarism and the meaning behind the word are not the only things worth discussing. There is an abundance of other, related terms.
First up, types of plagiarism. You can find more than one way to plagiarise. Most commonly, plagiarism gets separated into four different groups:
- Random or accidental plagiarism – the cause of this is either the neglection of proper quotation rules, forgetfulness to cite sources, misquotation, etc. Frequently, random plagiarism occurs in large scale documents, especially with younger or more inexperienced writers. They fail to ensure 100 per cent attribution to the original author. This is not a harmful type of plagiarism but is, nevertheless, identified as one.
- Direct (purposeful) plagiarism – this is the type of plagiarism which has no excuse. The term describes content repetition without attribution, direct transcriptions with the intent to plagiarise and claim the work as your own etc. Most of the time, direct plagiarism will emerge as a consequence of a looming deadline, evil intentions. In universities, this can result in an annulation of your thesis and the loss of academic evaluations, even expulsion. In business, purposeful plagiarism could lead to a trial.
- Paraphrasing – may also be referred to as partial plagiarism, mosaic plagiarism, rewriting etc. Paraphrasing focuses on borrowing a piece of content from a particular text and rewriting it using similar words or synonyms. The result is the same, but the shell of the whole material looks different. Nonetheless, paraphrasing is a significant issue for academic institutions and publishers alike. The main struggle of fighting paraphrasing is that it is hard to detect. Oxsico is one of the few ready-made plagiarism checkers that can identify and point out paraphrasing. We even have a separate ‘Paraphrasing’ score section in the reports indicating how much of the document is paraphrased.
- Self-plagiarism – the term refers to the plagiarism of one’s previous work.
Any of these types of plagiarism can cause harm of immeasurable magnitude. The main issues remain the same almost every time. For publishers, it’s the loss of prestige and decreasing of SEO scores. For universities, it’s the loss of academic transparency and integrity. For individuals, it’s the loss of time, funds maybe even their reputation.
Oxford Similarity Checker has some specific definitions and terms, related to plagiarism. They are:
- Similarity – ranging from 0 to 100%, the similarity scores indicate how similar your document is to one or more other papers. Similarities, especially small occurrences of similarity do not indicate plagiarism as such. The text has to be similar to the same ideas, backstories, motives, conclusions etc. for the similarity score to raise alarm. However, the gap between similarity and plagiarism is quite small. Our tool will help you see whether the situation with the text’s similarity is good or bad. If the percentage is above five, perhaps you should take another look at it. If the score index colour changes from green to orange or red – serious measures have to be taken.
- Concentration – defines the abundance of plagiarism in clusters or particular spots. If one sentence seems to be paraphrased or rewritten, that might not be all that bad. However, if there is a substantial structural piece in your content comprised almost entirely out of plagiarised content, the concentration score will show.
- Improper citing – using quotes and citing other authors is an integral part of academic research, thesis writing or any other piece of in-depth paper. If you do not attribute authors correctly, you risk of being called out for plagiarism. The improper citing score is going to show whether there need to be some revisions.
- Citing – just citing the work of other people is borderline plagiarism. If the citing score is too high, you are going to have to revise.
Is there any universal plagiarism definition?
Whatever we like, we have to accept that there is no single plagiarism definition. Probably it will not come in future. Plagiarism is not a specific object but rather a concept. Like the concept of love. In some situations, we see that love is present or is not present. But most of the cases are unclear, and we torture ourselves thinking about how it really is.