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You often hear your teacher asking you for a plagiarism-free assignment. That means you cannot copy-paste any material for that assignment and you have to make an effort now. Our lazy fellows still find a shortcut to prepare for that assignment.  They follow different techniques to copy and paste data without plagiarizing.

They paraphrase the already existing content on the internet for their assignment. Paraphrasing is the “game of words” just like the “game of thrones” Hehehe… (tried to rhyme). Paraphrasing means editing the already available content to make a new piece of content. 

Plagiarism and paraphrasing are often confused as the same, but these are separate terms. This article elaborates on the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when you use someone else’s content or idea without crediting the rightful owner and present it as your own. It may also be called stealing others’ knowledge and content if you don’t mention the reference. You can use others’ content as long as you cite their source.

Related: What is the best free paraphrasing tool to beat turnitin?

Types of Plagiarism

There are many types of plagiarism based on severity but we will discuss four here.

Verbatim Plagiarism

It is also known as copy and paste plagiarism. As its name tells, it is when you directly copy and paste the content without citing the source. It is compulsory to mention the content source if you want to copy the exact words of the author by putting the content in quotation marks.

Patchwork Plagiarism

It is also called mosaic plagiarism. It is when you copy phrases and text from different sources and put them together to create new content. In piecing the different texts together nicely, patchwork plagiarism often includes some paraphrasing. It requires a little more effort than copy-paste plagiarism.

Global Plagiarism

Global plagiarism means you use someone else’s entire work as your own. You put your name label on someone else’s work. Like there is an essay available on the internet and you submit it to your class teacher as your own or when you ask someone else to write your essay for you. This is the most severe type of plagiarism as it includes directly and deliberately lying about the authorship of a work. 

Self Plagiarism

One can also commit plagiarism by reusing his/her work that has already been published. So you can’t turn in a paper that you already have published or recycle ideas developed from previous assignments/contents. Although it is your work, still you have already got credit for this work so you can’t use it again.

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is a technique in which the already existing content is altered to create new content. Or we can say that already published ideas and texts are modified to create new content. Modification can be done using synonyms of different words or by writing the content in your own words.

Although the source is already published the content is new so paraphrasing is allowed in some places for example, while writing your thesis or literature review etc. But it is important to cite the source of new content to give credit to the rightful owner. You can also learn about the best paraphrasing tool for a thesis.

You don’t need to write the paraphrased text in quotation marks. You can publish it in your name after citing all the references. Sometimes paraphrasing is considered plagiarism. You should care about it and check the plagiarism after done the content. The most common technique that is used to do paraphrasing is RAP;

Read; read the text carefully that you want to paraphrase.

Ask; think about the main idea of the text, and what message the author wants to convey.

Paraphrase; now rewrite the main idea in your own words.

Let us rephrase a paragraph for practice;

Paragraph 1:

Why is plagiarism a big deal? Copy-pasting in itself is not a big deal. The information available on the internet is for people to read and get benefits. But there are some manners to use that data which is to cite the reference of the author. Plagiarism becomes a big deal when the data available on the internet is used without citation (with the purpose of theft). Many online tools are available on the internet to check for plagiarism. Many of these tools are free to use for a certain word count. After that word count, you need to buy the tool. They provide weekly, monthly, or yearly plans to get a premium.

Read the above paragraph carefully and underline the main idea. Here, for example, the above main idea is given in the first sentence. Now mark the supporting details in the paragraph about why plagiarism is a big deal and what it includes. The final step is to rephrase the paragraph in your own words.

Paraphrased paragraph:

What's the big deal about plagiarism? Copying and pasting isn't a big deal in and of itself. People can read and benefit from the information available on the internet. However, there are some ways to use that data, such as citing the author's reference. Plagiarism becomes a major issue when data from the internet is used without citation (with the purpose of theft). There are numerous online tools available to check for plagiarism. Many of these tools are free to use for a limited time. After that word count, you must purchase the tool. They offer weekly, monthly, and yearly premium plans.

Here you can see the exact difference in words in the above two paragraphs but the main idea remains the same so you must give credit to the rightful owner for your text to be acceptable and not considered plagiarism.

Key differences between plagiarism and paraphrasing:



Paraphrasing is rewriting others’ content and ideas in your own words.

Plagiarism is using the already published content as it is under your name.

When you paraphrase, you typically include a citation giving credit to the original author.

With plagiarism, you typically do not include a citation (with the intent of stealing). Because plagiarism is never acceptable.

Paraphrasing typically involves a close reading of the original text to understand its meaning.

Plagiarism often involves simply copying and pasting the original text without fully understanding it.

Paraphrasing is often acceptable when you are writing some kind of review content but only if you mention references.

Plagiarism is never allowed in any case except by quoting some quotation concerning the original author.

Paraphrasing is considered plagiarism only if the reference is not given. Plagiarism is a wide concept used for any kind of unethical use of someone else’s work without acknowledgment. In my personal opinion, the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism is the same as the difference between borrowing and stealing.