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Academic Integrity and Plagiarism: Types of Plagiarism

A guide for helping students understand and avoid plagiarism.

Many Forms of Plagiarism

Plagiarism can be either intentional or unintentional. It can also range widely in its severity. Review the information below to learn about the different types of plagiarism. Knowing these will help you to avoid the most common mistakes. "And knowing is half the battle" as G.I. Joe* often says.

*we just wanted an excuse to quote G.I. Joe

(image source:

Unintentional Plagiarism

The most common plagiarism offenses are unintentional, so it's important to know what to avoid before you begin your research. Some of the most common mistakes include:

  • Quoting something verbatim but not including a citation
  • Paraphrasing or summarizing another text but not including a citation
  • Paraphrasing poorly by rearranging sentences and simply replacing certain words
  • Creating sloppy in-text citations and Works Cited pages

Avoiding these pitfalls is easy so long as you review the contents of this guide, give yourself enough time to complete an assignment, and be honest about which ideas are your own and which ideas come from others' works.

Types of Plagiarism (ranked by severity)

This useful graphic shows the most common forms of plagiarism, with the most severe at the top. Numbers 1 and 8 are intentional and flagrant plagiarism violations, but every other form could be committed either intentionally or unintentionally.

(image source: originally from

Intentional Plagiarism

Intentional plagiarism is often treated more severely than unintentional plagiarism. Students accused of plagiarism often admit that they knew what they were doing was wrong, but "had no choice" because they began the assignment too late or didn't do enough research beforehand. Regardless of the circumstances, intentional plagiarism (like intentional fouls in sports) is treated very seriously by Whittier College. Types of intentional plagiarism include:

  • Purchasing a paper online and submitting it as your own
  • Submitting a paper given to you by a friend, classmate, or family member
  • Having someone else write a paper for you
  • Submitting a paper you already submitted in another class
  • Making up sources to cite

In each of these cases, even if you make substantial revisions, it's still considered plagiarism.

Psst! Want to Know a Secret?

The whole point of going to college isn't to get good grades. It's to learn how to think and communicate. By plagiarizing, you're only cheating yourself out of what is perhaps the most valuable learning experience of your four years at Whittier College. You may be surprised to learn that employers really don't care about your GPA, but they will be concerned if they discover that you are the type of person who attempts to pass off others' work as your own.

(image souce: ElizaC3 on flickr, cc by)