Incremental plagiarism occurs when a person

Plagiarism: what is it and how do I protect myself?

Definition: what is plagiarism?

According to the German University Association, plagiarism is "the literal and conceptual adoption of third-party intellectual property without appropriate identification". In short: those who plagiarize gives off other people's intellectual achievements as their own. It is irrelevant whether the foreign source is taken literally or only in a general sense. We will explain in detail below what types of plagiarism there are and how to avoid them.

The quotation must be distinguished from plagiarism. In science, one may "copy" or take up other people's ideas, as long as the sources are given correctly. Both direct (verbatim) and indirect (analogous) quotations must be marked as such so that they are not plagiarized.

Incidentally, plagiarism does not only exist in science, but also in the fields of literature, art, music and business. Plagiarism can constitute a violation of copyright or patent law. In the Copyright Act (UrhG), however, there is no real definition for the term plagiarism. As a result, there is a certain gray area from when something is to be regarded as plagiarism.

Why you should definitely use plagiarism software?

Most universities nowadays use electronic plagiarism software as standard to check student papers and theses. These software applications comb your work for possible matches with other texts.

Around Avoid allegations of plagiarism from the outset, it is best to check your work yourself before submitting it! You don't have to buy expensive software to do this. You can easily carry out a plagiarism check online. It doesn't cost much and usually takes 10 to 30 minutes at the most.

There are several good reasons for an online plagiarism check:

1. Allegations of plagiarism have serious consequences

Plagiarism is not a trivial offense! They are assessed by the universities as attempted deception and punished accordingly. As a rule, the course is considered failed if you submit a plagiarized work. The incident can also have more serious consequences, up to and including exclusion from the study program or de-registration. A plagiarized thesis can even cost you your title - as some prominent examples in recent years have shown. Important to know: a Allegations of plagiarism do not expire. Even if the theft of ideas remains undetected at first, the academic degree can still be declared null and void decades later.

2. Plagiarism is mostly unintentional

In most cases, there is no ill intent behind it. Much plagiarism is the result of ignorance or carelessness. It is true that two forgotten quotation marks will not have any serious consequences. But if the "sloppiness" piles up, you may get one assumed deliberate intent to deceive.

3. Most plagiarism is discovered

It is very likely that a copied job will be exposed. Because every university sets electronic plagiarism scanners ones that crawl millions of databases and internet sources. Copies can be found quickly this way. The plagiarism software that we recommend here works on a very similar principle and checks the same sources as the versions that the universities use. If the online plagiarism check does not find any suspicious areas, the university will most likely have nothing to complain about.

4. You get yourself a better grade

Because of a few incorrect quotes, you won't fail right away. The decisive factor is whether the lecturer assesses the passages in question as sloppiness or as a deliberate attempt at deception. But very likely you will Point deductionsif you've quoted inaccurately and you risk getting a bad grade. It's a shame when you've invested a lot of time and effort in the work. With the online plagiarism check, you can put the finishing touches to your work with little effort.

5. The plagiarism check works quickly and easily

Even if you only finish at the last minute: There is still time for the plagiarism check on the submission date because it takes time a maximum of 10 to 30 minutes. By the way, you can do it at any time of the day or night. The subsequent corrections are usually done quickly: All you have to do is add the relevant sources and put the quotation marks correctly. In this way, plagiarism turns into good scientific work within a very short time.

6. A plagiarism check is worth the money

Depending on the scope of your work, you will pay around around for the online plagiarism check 15 to 35 euros. In relation to the consequences that plagiarism can have, that is not a lot of money!

How does the plagiarism software work?

Step 1: upload work

To start the plagiarism check, all you have to do is upload your finished work in Word, PDF or OpenOffice format. This is possible around the clock. You have to yourself first neither register nor create an account. The upload is usually completed quickly, even with large files. Incidentally, your data will not be stored permanently on the service provider's server, but will be deleted within 24 hours after the test is completed.

Step 2: Have an automatic plagiarism check carried out

The automatic plagiarism scanner now compares your work with billions of sources. The work will Completely - Sentence by sentence - checked, so that no plagiarism is guaranteed. Even so, the exam is usually completed within 30 minutes at the most. It is the same technology that universities use for their automatic plagiarism checks.

Step 3: Receive plagiarism report with traffic light logic

Immediately after the check, you will receive a detailed plagiarism report by email. Traffic light logic shows you at a glance whether your work is in the "green area" or whether there is a need for correction. The decisive factor for this is the proportion of "suspected plagiarism" words, which is given as a percentage.

  • "Green" (0 - 2%) means that the proportion of possible plagiarism is very low and you can hand in your work as it is.
  • "Yellow" (2 - 10%) indicates an increased proportion of suspicious locations. You should better check the work again and add sources or quotations if necessary.
  • "Red" (> 10%) means that the plagiarism scanner found a lot of matches. You should definitely revise the text so that the university does not consider it plagiarism.

Note that there is a certain gray area from when a plagiarism is present! Each university and each faculty can rate the percentage results that plagiarism software delivers slightly differently. In borderline cases, it is often decided individually whether it is plagiarism or whether the work will go through.

It depends, among other things, on the respective subject how high the percentage agreement with other sources may be. In law, for example, it is often necessary to reproduce longer passages of legal texts verbatim. The plagiarism scanner may then show a higher proportion of "suspicious" positions, even if your work is completely okay.

Following the traffic light result, the text passages with possible plagiarism are listed in detail. The plagiarism report highlights the suspicious areas in color and also gives you the sources of origin. You can then correct the work yourself with little effort.

Step 4: Check suspicious spots and correct plagiarism

To avoid plagiarism, it is usually sufficient to mark the areas marked in color with the correct references to supplement - these are included in the plagiarism report.

Incidentally, in individual cases it can happen that the automatic plagiarism check finds plagiarism even though you have worked properly. This is the case, for example, if you have quoted from a book source of which there are copies on the Internet.

Why can't I just use free plagiarism software?

You pay a small fee for the online plagiarism check that we recommend here. You may be wondering why you can't just use one of the numerous free offers on the Internet. The reason for this is simple: these free versions are no professional plagiarism software! The free plagiarism scanners work very imprecisely and can pose a data protection risk under certain circumstances.

The most important advantages of a professional, paid plagiarism check compared to the free versions are:

  • Full review: The professional plagiarism software checks your work completely - paragraph by paragraph, line by line. This guarantees that no plagiarism will slip through. The free versions, on the other hand, often only check randomly and skip part of the text. This does not give you complete security.
  • Large number of sources: Free plagiarism scanners usually only consider a limited number of sources. The professional versions, on the other hand, comb through billions of sources and databases and compare them with your work. The online plagiarism software works just as seamlessly as the plagiarism scanners used by universities.
  • Text volume: The free offers on the Internet are often limited to a certain number of characters from the outset, so you can only check a few pages - and not all of them. This is completely inadequate for longer term papers and theses. With the provider recommended by us, you can upload works of up to 350 pages. The price depends on the scope of the work, so that you pay less for a shorter study project.
  • High data protection standards: The professional provider guarantees that your data will not fall into the wrong hands. You do not have to create an account or divulge sensitive information and you remain completely anonymous. Your work will be permanently deleted from the provider's server immediately after the plagiarism check and will not be stored in any databases. With the free versions, you run a data protection risk in the worst case.

Only professional plagiarism software, like the one used by universities, can really protect you against allegations of plagiarism. Since these detailed, extensive tests are very complex and the software has its price, the provider cannot provide it for free.

What forms of scientific plagiarism are there?

What many new students are not aware of: It is not only plagiarism if you literally copy it off! There are a few other types of plagiarism that can have unpleasant consequences as well.

In the following we summarize everything that counts as plagiarism in the sciences and how you can avoid this plagiarism.

Full plagiarism

A full or complete plagiarism exists when someone does someone else's job Completely or almost completely takes it over and pretends to be its own. There is little to discuss here - such plagiarism is a deliberate attempt at deception and not sloppiness. In times of electronic plagiarism checks, the risk that the fraud will be exposed is very high.

Text plagiarism

In the case of a text plagiarism, parts of an external source become literally adopted without marking it as a quote. Plagiarism of text is usually found quickly by plagiarism scanners.

You can avoid them by quoting them correctly. Even if it is only about individual sentences or parts of sentences: Whenever you copy someone else's text one-to-one, you have to mark the relevant passage as a direct quotation with the full source. Usually, direct quotations are enclosed in quotation marks. Longer passages are indented and indicated as quotations through the text formatting.

Unlabelled paraphrase

Here, the foreign text is not taken literally, but in a slightly different formwithout referring to the source. The rendering of another text in your own words is also called paraphrasing. This method is perfectly fine as long as you refer to the original source. This reference is made through an indirect quotation. Either put a footnote or give the receipt directly in the text in brackets.

It is important to know that unlabeled paraphrases can only be found by plagiarism software if they are very similar to the template. Nevertheless, there is a high risk that such plagiarism will be exposed. Because the lecturers know the relevant specialist literature well and can only quickly assign "reformulated" texts to the original source.

Mosaic plagiarism ("Shake and Paste")

A mosaic plagiarism arises when you choose multiple sources "Pieces together" your text without giving it away. Such plagiarism is also usually found by plagiarism software, as these scanners measure the degree of correspondence with other texts - even if they are only parts of sentences.

Sometimes the "shake and paste" technique is used deliberately to cover up plagiarism. Sometimes mosaic plagiarism also happens out of uncertainty, because the author finds it difficult to express ideas in his own words. First of all, it is important that you fully cite the sources you are working with. Try to summarize the basic thoughts that you have found in the literature independently and refer to the sources. Opt for some succinct literal quotes to back up the ideas. In term papers and seminar papers, it is usually completely okay if you stick to other texts. The key point is that you point out the sources.

"Pawn sacrifice"

A "pawn sacrifice" is one insufficient source reference. For example, it is pretended to paraphrase a text when it is actually a verbatim quote. Or the footnotes only refer to individual sentences, although much longer sections have been taken from another work.

A "pawn" gives the impression that the author has developed ideas himself, which he has in fact adopted from others. It does not always have to be a conscious intention to deceive. Sometimes a plagiarism in the form of a "pawn sacrifice" happens unintentionally through sloppy quoting. When in doubt, it is better to put one footnote or a bracket too many than one too few to avoid unintentionally plagiarizing texts.


One speaks of self-plagiarism or self-plagiarism if you Use self-written text multiple times. For example, you insert a section from a term paper into your thesis without referring to it. It is not strictly forbidden to refer to your own texts. To avoid plagiarism, you should quote your older text correctly - as if it were a different author.

Translation plagiarism

If you foreign language texts translated without specifying the original source, it is a translation plagiarism. Such plagiarism is usually not recognized by electronic plagiarism scanners, but can still be exposed. Because the lecturers probably know the foreign-language specialist literature better than you and can also assign translations to the original source. As long as you name the original source, there is of course nothing wrong with translations!

Structural plagiarism

It is structural plagiarism if you use the Structure or chapter division from another source. Since plagiarism scanners also capture tables of contents, such plagiarism can come to light. Therefore, avoid copying outlines entirely from other work. You can use it for inspiration, but you should still think about an independent structure for your work.

Plagiarism of ideas

One speaks of a plagiarism of ideas when you take up the fundamental thoughts of another author and than spend your own. Such plagiarism will not be found by automatic plagiarism scanners, but your lecturer or supervisor will notice the "idea theft" in many cases.

You avoid plagiarism of ideas by consistently naming the source of someone else's thoughts. Nobody expects you to develop revolutionary ideas on your own during your studies. On the contrary, it makes your argument more believable if you back it up with good sources. Only general knowledge, which is assumed to be known outside of the subject, you do not have to prove. For example, you don't need a quote for the existence of gravity. However, the transition between general and specialist knowledge can be fluid. In case of doubt, you should therefore include a source reference so that you cannot be accused of plagiarism.

How can I avoid plagiarism?

A plagiarism allegation can be a lot of trouble! This applies even if you did not want to deceive on purpose, but plagiarized yourself out of ignorance or sloppiness.However, plagiarism can be avoided if you adhere to a few basic rules:

1. Take enough time

Lots of plagiarism sneak in as Carelessness without any intent to deceive. Such sloppiness happens to you more easily if you finish your work at the last minute. So make yourself a realistic work plan that you stick to consistently, and it is better to plan some time reserves.

2. Learn proper scientific writing

To avoid plagiarism, you must first know how to correctly quote from foreign sources in science. In most curricula, an introduction to academic writing is now mandatory for first-year students. There are also at many universities Writing workshopswhere you can get help with writing. If possible, familiarize yourself with the typical rules of your department at the beginning of your studies. This will save you a lot of effort, frustration and anger later.

3. Observe the guidelines of your university

Each university has its own individual requirements as to which citation style is desired. Most of the time there are corresponding ones Guidesin which the requirements are explained in detail.

4. Identify quotes and references to third parties immediately

Plagiarism can easily creep in if you work with large amounts of literature and at some point lose track of where you found which ideas. So always give when writing your raw version immediately the full sources so that you don't forget the references later! There is also special software with which you can manage the literature used.