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Accidental plagiarism is a practice that can have serious consequences. To help you avoid it, we've explained six of the essential tips. 

These tips will ensure that you give credit where required and do original work. Don't let unintentional mistakes ruin your credibility or create legal issues. 

Read on to understand accidental plagiarism and its avoiding tips...! 

What is Accidental Plagiarism?

"When you use someone else's ideas and thoughts without giving acknowledgement. It refers to accidental plagiarism". Most often, it happens accidentally without any intentions. 

For example, you may often use someone's work and forget to mention their name. It could be intentional or unintentional, but it leads to plagiarism. Therefore, to avoid it from your work, you must know about accidental plagiarism and how to avoid it. 

Understanding Common Types of Accidental Plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism is a type of plagiarism and can impact your performance. It is not appropriate to use someone else's work without proper attribution. 

Some of the common types of accidental plagiarism are: 

  • Patchwriting
  • Paraphrasing without citation
  • Failure to cite sources properly
  • Using someone else's ideas without attribution
  • Unintentional Self-Plagiarism

1. Patchwriting 

Patchwriting is when you use someone else's sentences or phrases and only change a few words. And you have done all this without giving credit to the original author. 

For example:

Original sentence: "Global warming is causing sea levels to rise."

Patchwriting: "The rise in sea levels is a result of global warming."

You make a few changes to words in phrases or sentences, but you give no credit to the original author. It would consider patchwriting. 

2. Paraphrasing without citation 

It is where you rephrase someone else's ideas in your own words and thoughts. You modify the simple sentences but fail to acknowledge the source. 

For example: 

Original sentence: "Exercise improves your mood and reduces stress levels."

Paraphrasing without citation: You use this sentence as it is in your blog and gives no credit to the author. Here you commit plagiarism that is paraphrasing without attribution or proper citation. 

3. Failing to cite sources properly

It is a practice where you do not properly cite the source for using their information. 

For example: 

Original writing: "Online tools help students save time and put less effort".

Failing to cite the source properly: You use this sentence in your work but don't mention the author's name. You may fail to mention in reference list as well as in bibliography or acknowledgment. 

4. Using someone else's ideas without attribution

It is a form of accidental plagiarism where you read original authors and their work. You copy their material and use it in your work. Without giving them credit and attribution, it refers to accidental plagiarism. 

For example:

Original writing: "In today's world, technology greatly impacts how work is done." 

Using someone else's ideas without attribution: "As someone said, 'technology is changing the way we work." 

Using this sentence without giving credit to the source is accidental plagiarism. 

5. Unintentional Self-Plagiarism 

It is a type where you unintentionally use your own previous work in a new piece of writing. You can do it without any attribution and proper citation style. 

It might be due to a busy schedule or forgetting for any reason. But it counts as plagiarism that causes various consequences in your performance. 

For example: 

Original writing: "Climate change is a pressing issue that affects us all." 

Unintentional Self-Plagiarism: "Climate change is an urgent problem that impacts us all." 

These are some examples of accidental plagiarism. Now it is enough to illustrate that plagiarism can occur in any form. 

So ensure that, whether you use a phrase or a sentence from another source. Give proper credit and reference to the original author. 

Tips to Avoid Accidental Plagiarism

Plagiarism is not good for academic as well as professional performance. To prevent accidental plagiarism in your work, it's crucial to understand it completely. 

6 of the most important avoiding tips of accidental plagiarism are: 

  • Understanding the importance of citations
  • Developing good note-taking skills
  • Using plagiarism detection tools
  • Paraphrasing and summarizing
  • Using quotation marks
  • Citing sources properly

1. Understanding the importance of citations 

Citations are crucial when using someone else's work or ideas in your writing. Failing to cite sources properly can result in plagiarism. 

Understanding the importance of citations can help you avoid accidental plagiarism.

2. Developing good note-taking skills 

Good note-taking skills are essential to avoid plagiarism. When you take notes from other sources. Keep ensuring that you paraphrase the information, which is different from rephrasing

3. Using plagiarism detection tools 

Plagiarism detection tools are best for detecting any type of plagiarism. It highlights the plagiarized sentences and the areas where citations are needed. The plagiarism checker also helps you make necessary changes to avoid plagiarism. 

4. Paraphrasing and summarizing 

Paraphrasing and summarizing are two different techniques. They help you write the main ideas and sources into your writing. 

To avoid plagiarism, you must know the proper usage of paraphrasing and summarizing. 

5. Using quotation marks 

Quotation marks help you to directly quote the source material. It is easy to quote the sentence by putting quotation marks on it. It helps in citing the source and information that you use from another source, even if it is accidental.

6. Citing sources properly 

Proper citation is necessary to avoid accidental plagiarism. Some of the informative and easy ways to properly cite the source are: 

  • Cite within a text
  • In the bibliography of the content
  • in the reference list
  • A the end of your writing

Six of these avoiding tips are perfect for preventing your work from plagiarism. Following these tips also improve your writing and encourage you to think critically. 

Common Myths About Plagiarism

Several myths can lead to misunderstanding and accidental plagiarism. Three common myths about plagiarism are: 

  • Changing a few words is enough to avoid plagiarism
  • It's not plagiarism if it's unintentional
  • Using multiple sources without citation is not plagiarism

1. Changing a few words is enough to avoid plagiarism

Changing a few words in a sentence or paragraph is not leading to plagiarism. Simply it is enough to avoid plagiarism. 

Some of the key points for this myth are: 

  • Paraphrasing requires proper attribution and changes in language or sentence structure.
  • Failing to give credit for someone else's ideas and concepts.

2. It's not plagiarism if it's unintentional

Unintentional plagiarism occurs when you fail to properly cite your sources of information. It happens when:

  • Not aware of academic writing conventions.
  • Ignorance is not an excuse for plagiarism.
  • Not following the rules and guidelines for academic writing.

3. Using multiple sources without citation is not plagiarism

Using information from different sources and not giving proper citations is accidental plagiarism. 

Some of its key points are: 

  • Citation is necessary for all sources, even if you directly quote the information. 
  • When you paraphrase to prevent plagiarism, it also requires citation.
  • When you fail to cite your sources according to citation style APA and MLA.

It is easy to say that unintentionally not citing the source is not plagiarism. When you don't cite the source, it classifies as plagiarism, which means you're taking credit for someone else's work.

Consequences of Accidental Plagiarism

The consequences of accidental plagiarism can be severe, especially in academic and professional settings. It occurs even if you do not want to do it. It is copying someone else's work to create your new document. 

Common consequences of accidental plagiarism are:

  • Academic consequences
  • Professional consequences
  • Legal consequences

1. Academic Consequences

Violation of academic integrity results in severe consequences, such as:

  • Failing a course. 
  • Suspension from the educational institute.
  • Damage your reputation.
  • Difficult to obtain scholarships.
  • Loss of opportunities to a graduate program.

Moreover, academic institutions maintain a record of individual students where every student has a specific record. 

2. Legal Consequences

Plagiarism can also have legal implications, particularly if the material is legally copyrighted. You could face different reasons, such as: 

  • Lawsuits 
  • Fines
  • Imprisonment for copyright 
  • Infringement 
  • Loss of credibility
  • Damage your reputation

3. Professional Consequences

Professionally, accidental plagiarism has a significant impact on your career. It can lead to:

Therefore, it is crucial to always give proper credit to the sources you use in your work. To avoid any plagiarism and its consequences, citation is necessary. 


Accidental plagiarism is a serious issue that can have various consequences. It is crucial to understand accidental plagiarism and how you can avoid it. 

By understanding its main concept, you can protect your work from plagiarism. The six common tips are also discussed in this article, which will help you prevent your reputation. 

Brief overview is: 

  • Understanding the importance of citations
  • Developing good note-taking skills
  • Using plagiarism detection tools
  • Paraphrasing and summarizing
  • Using quotation marks
  • Citing sources properly

 Additionally, you can use plagiarism checker tools to detect and identify your work.