▷»Me, plagiarism?» 🙄 7 forms of imitation, lack of originality and discredit to the authors

– “You failed for plagiarism.”

With this uncomfortable phrase (which is not pleasant for the teacher or the student) it all begins...

fail for plagiarism exam

Some people get upset or annoyed when after submitting a piece of work to which they have dedicated time, they fail for plagiarism or lack of originality. It is not the same when you copy conscientiously, due to laziness, lack of time or not wanting to make an effort, than when you copy without premeditation and with the idea that you are doing it well. In those cases, what happens normally is that people do not know how to write a text in an original way, with quotations and references.

But it's easier than it seems! At the end of the article you will be able to distinguish between the "tedious" concepts of citation, paraphrasing, reference, bibliography, plagiarism and originality that at the beginning of our academic journey can be a bit confusing.

Let's go for it! 💪

Contents

What basic concepts do you need to know to understand plagiarism?

When writing a text, the essential thing is to be authentic and rely, in moderation, on other bibliographical sources that provide the basis for the writing. Basic concepts:

  1. Citation rules: system of rules implemented so that the editors follow a common line and respect the copyright of all sources used in their writings. There is no single citation rule. We have APA, Vancouver, MLA, among others. We will focus on Vancouver, since they are the most used in Health Sciences.
  2. Direct quote: is a phrase/fragment taken from another source and exposed in a piece of work literally. It is expressed in quotation marks. It must be accompanied by a number placed in superscript1 or between parentheses (1) alluding to the source. The latter will be exposed as a reference at the end of the work/text.
  3. Indirect quote: phrase/fragment prepared in one's own words from the ideas of another author, that is, using the paraphrasing. In this case, the source is also cited in the text by means of a superscript number or between parentheses and the reference is given at the end, in the bibliography.
  4. Bibliographic references: each of the sources cited from which an idea or a direct quote has been extracted. Each reference is fully exposed at the end of the work/text composing part of the section that we call bibliography. In the case of Vancouver rules, the list is displayed in order of appearance and not in alphabetical order as is the case, for example, with APA standards.
  5. Bibliography: this is the final section of a piece of work where all materials used are reflected. On the one hand, and first of all, the bibliographic references (those that have been cited throughout the text); on the other hand, the sources consulted (those materials that have been reviewed but not mentioned throughout the text).

 

The citation and reference system allows readers to easily locate the bibliographic source and credits the authors.

 

What is plagiarism?

Copying ideas from another author verbatim and presenting them as your own with no indication of the source. It is also considered plagiarism to present a piece of work as one's own when it has been done by another person.

plagiarism document

Specific cases of plagiarism

Fictitious examples will be exposed simulating what a person would write in a piece of work/text.

  1. Copy sentences literally and do not expose the bibliographical reference.

 

Example:

– En el mundo, se estima que la desnutrición infantil contribuye en torno al 45 % de todas las muertes infantiles, y que, aproximadamente, a diario mueren por esta causa unos 8500 niños. Pero en este caso nos estamos refiriendo principalmente a la desnutrición de los países en vías de desarrollo, en los que la desnutrición por falta de ingesta es la más prevalente.

Absence of bibliography.

That's wrong because this snippet has been copied verbatim from the article: Evaluando la desnutrición en pediatría, un reto vigente, as seen in the following image:

plagiarism in article

Source. Evaluando la desnutrición en pediatría, un reto vigente, 2021

In addition to having been copied verbatim, it has not been placed in quotation marks and has not been cited throughout the text nor has the reference been reflected at the end of the document (no bibliography).

 

  1. Copy phrases literally from a source and expose a different source "to mislead".

 

Example:

– En el mundo, se estima que la desnutrición infantil contribuye en torno al 45 % de todas las muertes infantiles, y que, aproximadamente, a diario mueren por esta causa unos 8500 niños. Pero en este caso nos estamos refiriendo principalmente a la desnutrición de los países en vías de desarrollo, en los que la desnutrición por falta de ingesta es la más prevalente (1).

Bibliography:

1. Guerra E, González YA, Gómez F, Fandiño A, Martínez A. Caracterización clínico epidemiológica de niños con desnutrición proteico energética. MEDISAN [Internet]. 2018 [cited day/month/year]; 22(8): 683-694. Available in: https://medisan.sld.cu/index.php/san/article/view/2096

That's wrong because although a reference is cited and given, it is not the reference from which the sentence was actually copied. Also, it has not been placed in quotation marks.

  1. Copy sentences changing words for synonyms and do not expose bibliography.

 

Example:

– Food waste goes beyond the simple gesture to put something in the trash. Not just food is discard. This is the labour of farmers, their effort, time and dedication. It is also about the natural resources that the land offers us (by the way, free and without asking for retribution).

Absence of bibliography.

Bellow the original text from which it was copied:

– Food waste goes beyond the simple act of putting something in the trash. Not just food is wasted. This is the work of farmers, their effort, time and dedication. It is also about the natural resources that the earth offers us (by the way, free and without asking for compensation).

That's wrong because, although some individual words have been changed by other equivalent ones, it is an imitation of the original sentence. Also because the reference used has not been cited or exposed.

What do these 3 examples of plagiarism have in common?

three examples of plagiarism

In short, the words of another author are copied, repeated, taken as their own without using quotation marks (which would give credit to their authorship) and, furthermore, the bibliographical reference used is not exposed (or it is exposes, in its absence, any other).

In contrast to plagiarism, what is lack of originality?

Lack of originality is less serious than plagiarism, but it is also important.

Originality is the condition of being something new. It refers to one's own creation, to the act of writing without copying or imitating anyone else.

Writing with a lack of originality denotes a lack of knowledge of the rules for citing and exposing references.novelty original stamp

Specific cases of lack of originality

Fictitious examples will be exposed simulating what a person would write in a piece of work/text.

  1. Copy fragments literally, even if the bibliography is exposed.

 

In other words: "I am going to copy your words, but I am going to have the courtesy of putting the reference in the bibliography".

At the beginning of the studies it happens frequently (it happened to me too). The student does not know that this is wrong but once he knows it, there is no excuse anymore...

doubting whether to commit plagiarism or not

Same example as in the previous section:

– Food waste goes beyond the simple act of putting something in the trash. Not just food is wasted. This is the work of farmers, their effort, time and dedication. It is also about the natural resources that the earth offers us (by the way, free and without asking for compensation) (1). We do not realize that as a society we are contributing enormously to wear and tear […]. The points that we should keep in mind are […]. If we look at what happens in other places in the same geographical area, we would see that […].

Bibliography:

1. Martín-Rubio L. How to reduce your food waste without succumbing to the attempt: 17 tips [Internet]. Nutrition and Zero Hunger; 2022 [cited day/month/year]. Available in: https://nutricionyhambrecero.com/en/desperdicio-alimentario-despilfarro-perdida-alimentos/

That's wrong because, although the reference number has been placed and the bibliography has been exposed, the first sentence of the text has not been placed in quotation marks (in case you want to leave it as a direct quote) nor has it been paraphrased (in case you want to leave it as an indirect quote). It has been copied as it is. It is noted in the source article:

food waste article fragment

  1. Copy sentences changing words for synonyms, even if the bibliography is exposed.

 

We use the same example as before:

– Food waste goes beyond the simple gesture to put something in the trash. Not just food is discard. This is the labour of farmers, their effort, time and dedication. It is also about the natural resources that the land offers us (by the way, free and without asking for retribution).

Bibliography:

1. Martín-Rubio L. How to reduce your food waste without succumbing to the attempt: 17 tips [Internet]. Nutrition and Zero Hunger; 2022 [cited day/month/year]. Available in: https://nutricionyhambrecero.com/en/desperdicio-alimentario-despilfarro-perdida-alimentos/

That's wrong because, as explained in previous sections, although some individual words have been changed for other equivalent ones, in order to give the impression that the text is the student's own, in truth, it is a copy of the original fragment. In this case, it is not plagiarism because, at least, the reference used is exposed, however, it is lack of originality, because the student is not writing in their own words.

 

What actions are wrong even without being plagiarism or lack of originality?

There are other practices that violate the academic citation rules, such as:

  1. Do not cite throughout the text when bibliographical references are presented in the bibliography.

 

Example:

– […] if there are situations of instability in the country, there may be periods of food insufficiency despite the fact that food is normally available, accessible and usable. For this reason, governments must guarantee that, despite external instability, food is always present. "In the world, it is estimated that child malnutrition contributes to around 45% of all child deaths, and that approximately 8500 children die from this cause every day."

Bibliography:

1. Martín-Rubio L. Food Safety and Insecurity: 10 aspects that will surprise you [Internet]. Nutrition and Zero Hunger; 2022 [cited day/month/year]. Available in: https://nutricionyhambrecero.com/en/seguridad-inseguridad-alimentaria/

2. Jiménez AI, Martínez AB, Salas-González MD, Martínez García RM, González-Rodríguez LG. Evaluando la desnutrición en pediatría, un reto vigente. Nutr. Hosp. [Internet]. 2021 [cited day/month/year]; 38(spe2): 64-67. Available in: http://scielo.isciii.es/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0212-16112021000500015&lng=es

That's wrong.It is noted that the references in the text with the corresponding number have not been cited. The appropriate fragment in this case would have been:

– […] if there are situations of instability in the country, periods of food insufficiency may occur despite the fact that food is normally available, accessible and usable (1). For this reason, governments must guarantee that, despite external instability, food is always present. “In the world, it is estimated that child malnutrition contributes to around 45% of all child deaths, and that approximately 8500 children die from this cause every day” (2).

 

  1. Do not expose the references in the bibliography when it has been cited throughout the text (opposite case to the previous one).

 

Example:

– […] If there are situations of instability in the country, there may be periods of food insufficiency despite the fact that food is normally available, accessible and usable (1). For this reason, governments must guarantee that, despite external instability, food is always present.

Absence of bibliography in the work/text. Therefore, would be wrong. It has been cited throughout the fragment but the source is not exposed.

 

How can you be original in your texts without incurring plagiarism?

why do you commit plagiarism

Some recommendations to make your texts extraordinary (or at least convenient 🙃):

  1. Write with own words. Denotes originality and professionalism.
  2. Insert your own ideas with those of another author, as long as the latter are paraphrased, cited and the corresponding reference is exposed in the bibliography.
  3. Make direct quotations only in a timely manner and if appropriate, always including the quotation marks [”__”], as well as the citation number and the complete reference at the end of the text.

But be careful and DO NOT abuse direct quotations or continuous paraphrasing without your own intervention. Remember that the text must be original.

Correct example ✅:

– “Food waste goes beyond the simple act of putting something in the trash” (1). We do not realize that as a society we are contributing enormously to wear and tear […]. Agricultural activities […]. In this society, we have […]. The points that we should keep in mind are […]. If we look at what happens in other places in the same geographical area, we would see that […]. If there are situations of instability in the country, periods of food insufficiency may occur despite the fact that food is normally available, accessible and usable (2). For this reason, governments must guarantee that, despite external instability, food will continue to be present. In these times, the human being has come to not value what he has, prioritizing […]. Under ideal conditions, if we had to go through the experience of growing and harvesting our own food, we would see this issue differently […]. According to Hernández-Rodríguez and Llamas-Rodríguez, "in addition to representing a social problem, food loss and waste is an environmental and economic problem" (3). Although great waste is observed in all food sectors, fruits and vegetables are in the lead, on the one hand, because their production is higher, and on the other, because they are products that perish more easily (4).

Bibliography:

1. Martín-Rubio L. How to reduce your food waste without succumbing to the attempt: 17 tips [Internet]. Nutrition and Zero Hunger; 2022 [cited day/month/year]. Available in: https://nutricionyhambrecero.com/en/desperdicio-alimentario-despilfarro-perdida-alimentos/

2. Martín-Rubio L. Food Safety and Insecurity: 10 aspects that will surprise you [Internet]. Nutrition and Zero Hunger; 2022 [cited day/month/year]. Available in: https://nutricionyhambrecero.com/en/seguridad-inseguridad-alimentaria/

3. Hernandez-Rodriguez C, Llamas-Rodriguez FJ. Desperdicio de alimentos y tiempo disponible para trabajo doméstico. ¿Están correlacionados? Estudio exploratorio en un contexto urbano. Estud. soc. Rev. aliment. contemp. desarro. reg. [Internet]. 2020 [cited day/month/year]; 30 (56): e201036. Available in: https://www.scielo.org.mx/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2395-91692020000200122

4. Sánchez A. Tu dieta puede salvar el planeta, 1ª ed. Barcelona: Paidós; 2021

This is right, as the text alternates between direct quotations (without overuse), indirect quotations and own contributions and all the references used have been cited and set out in the bibliography. The symbol [...] represents that the own contribution would be continued at greater length although it is not reflected in the example.

1 and 3, then, are direct quotes; 2 and 4 are indirect quotes. The rest of the sentences not quoted are own phrases, what it is really what should prevail in a piece of work.

So how do you paraphrase an idea from the original text?

We will take the following sentence of an article as an example:

– “There may be adequate availability, access and utilization but the external conditions are compromised and unstable, which leads to cyclical moments of scarcity”.

It could be paraphrased as follows:

– If there are situations of instability in the country, periods of food insufficiency may occur despite the fact that food was normally available, accessible and usable in the past.

But it is only an example. The sentence could be reconstructed in as many ways as there are people, as long as the main idea is preserved.

 

Anything else to keep in mind about plagiarism?

Although each regulation is different, in general, in a piece of work or in a writing it is not enough to provide the link to the reference or the name of the source in the bibliography; the references must be exposed complete and respecting the requested regulations. As mentioned at the beginning, in Health Sciences we will frequently use Vancouver. Respecting the Vancouver line of the examples provided so far, they are reviewed below in summary mode:

Article on the internet Martín-Rubio L. Food Safety and Insecurity: 10 aspects that will surprise you [Internet]. Nutrition and Zero Hunger; 2022 [cited day/month/year]. Available in: https://nutricionyhambrecero.com/en/seguridad-inseguridad-alimentaria/

Article in scientific magazine Hernandez-Rodriguez C, Llamas-Rodriguez FJ. Desperdicio de alimentos y tiempo disponible para trabajo doméstico. ¿Están correlacionados? Estudio exploratorio en un contexto urbano. Estud. soc. Rev. aliment. contemp. desarro. reg. [Internet]. 2020 [cited day/month/year]; 30 (56): e201036. Available in: https://www.scielo.org.mx/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2395-91692020000200122

Book Sánchez A. Tu dieta puede salvar el planeta, 1ª ed. Barcelona: Paidós; 2021

Additional example not given above:

Book chapter Guzón-González EJ. Políticas nutricionales en Latinoamérica, el caso ecuatoriano. En: Trescastro-López EM, coord. Experiencias de mejora de la soberanía alimentaria y la malnutrición: el papel de los recursos y las políticas locales. Alicante: Universidad de Alicante, Fontilles, Fundación Bengoa y Universidad de Managua; 2021. p. 41-54. Available in: https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/libro?codigo=825245

 

Final conclusions

Writing is an art and doing it professionally and without copying fragments from others is essential. We can do better or worse, it is understood that sometimes it is not easy, but it is something that we must develop with effort and practice.

Think about it, when you read a book, do you want it to be written by the author in its entirety or to be a puzzle of copied fragments?

I prefer the former, because otherwise I would feel a bit "ripped off". If what I was interested in the book were the excerpts from the other authors, I would go directly to each of those works.

The same would happen with a movie, with an idea or with any other creation. It is important to give credit to the authors. The effort deserves recognition.

plagiarism ideas

Be upright. Who continually copies only deceives himself. Honest practices in the academic sphere (and in any other field) denote professionalism and honesty.

As Herman Melville said: «It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation».

If you have questions or suggestions, you can leave them in the comments 🤗 and if you found it useful, share it! ðŸ™ƒ

Take care!

To cite this article in your academic works:

Martín-Rubio L. «Me, plagiarism?» 7 forms of imitation, lack of originality and discredit to the authors [Internet]. Nutrition and Zero Hunger; 2023 [consulted day/month/year]. Available on: https://nutricionyhambrecero.com/plagio-imitacion-falta-originalidad-citas/

4 Comments
  • FREYITA ANABEL CASTRO QUIROZ
    Posted at 05:26 a.m., April 21 Reply

    The comment of my work is somewhat uncomfortable since in reality I did not have the exact idea of ​​how to do it despite having read the rules at the beginning, but I appreciate your correction because you taught me how to do it correctly, indicating my errors and the way of proceeding, it is the first time that I carry out a task like this and masterly, your comment encourages me to continue forward to improve.

  • Laura Martin Rubio
    Posted at 00:27 a.m., April 25 Reply

    Hello Freyita,
    Thank you very much for your comment. That's the attitude! To continue forward always with the spirit of improvement 😉
    A hug!

  • Dias Zacarias Tembe
    Posted at 20:25 p.m., May 30 Reply

    Hello,
    Thank you for the recommendations and on next works I will try to follow all what comes on this remark of yours as a way to guarantee that my next submissions will be approved whit no problems related with bibliography.

  • Laura Martin Rubio
    Posted at 14:28 p.m., June 02 Reply

    Hello Dias,
    Great, I'm glad about that 😉 I'm sure that you will make it perfect in future works. Much obligated for the comment.
    A hug!

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