What's plagiarism?
Definition, forms, risks, penalties...

Understanding plagiarism to avoid it.

What does plagiarise mean?


To plagiarise is to copy an author by improperly attributing passages of his or her work to yourself, without quoting the author. Plagiarism may be unintentional, but the consequences are severe.

Examples of plagiarism: copied-and-pasted text, paraphrasing, translating, recycling an assignment, etc.

plagiarism definition

What is the definition of plagiarism?


Plagiarism is the act of presenting someone else's work as one's own. In documentary research and writing (dissertation, internship report, thesis, etc.), you're allowed to use another author's ideas, provided that the the source of the idea is mentioned.

Plagiarism is an act "which may be committed intentionally, unintentionally or inadvertently, and which consists of using, in part or in whole, a production or an idea produced by a person who may be oneself or another, without indicating the source". This is the definition of plagiarism given by Martin Hutchison, in the webinar "Plagiarism prevention in secondary schools: the need for urgency".

Copying texts generated by a generative AI such as ChatGPT may be an act of plagiarism. Generative AIs are considered to be third-party authors, so you must quote them if used. AI content can be detected using an AI Checker.

what is plagiarism

Why is it important not to plagiarise?


What is at stake in respecting copyright?


  • To attest to honest behaviour
    Being careful not to plagiarise means making a point of being an honest person who does not try to cheat. 

  • To promote original creations
    Have you been inspired by a source you liked? Quote it to pay tribute to its inventor.
  • To contribute to research
    Developing your own ideas and thoughts based on the work of experts helps to feed research
  • Demonstrate your skills
    Challenging an existing idea proves your ability to think critically.
Universities raise awareness of copyright
among their students.

Combating plagiarism

« Plagiarism is everyone's business! Raising awareness is aimed primarily at students, but plagiarism pertains to all school staff, whether they are teachers, researchers or administrators. It is part of a comprehensive approach that includes signing a charter, specific training, the use of plagiarism-detection tools and recommendations regarding disciplinary actions. »


« Plagiarism violates the rules of academic ethics and constitutes a misrepresentation in the work being graded. Plagiarism also constitutes an infringement of copyright and intellectual property, which could be equated with a crime of infringement. »

Plagiarism? Not for me!

« Teachers want to assess the student's own abilities - not those of another author. Plagiarism raises doubts about the expected qualities of a university student (critical mind, creativity, honesty, ability to develop a personal argument and articulate it, etc.) and is considered a serious violation of scientific ethics. Plagiarism brings the plagiarist into disrepute, calling into question not only the work in which they plagiarised but also the plagiarist's entire body of work and, by extension, their skills. »

What are the different forms of plagiarism?

Voluntary or involuntary plagiarism can take many forms. Do you know them all?

[...] translating a text without mentioning its creator is considered plagiarism. This is called translingual plagiarism or cross-language plagiarism.

[...] it is not enough to simply change a few words but rather to rephrase the whole sentence, words and structure, while still providing a citation.

[...] you are allowed to use your own words taken from another document, provided you mention the source.

[...] the author must be cited (Last and First Name), as well as the date of publication and where the information was found (website, book, newspaper, etc.).

[...] Hence, both the primary and secondary sources should be included in the citation.

[...] Common knowledge, of a fact or event, corresponds to its wide recognition, namely, if it is known to a large majority of people.

[...] an anonymous source is just as important as a known source.

plagiarism definition
of students were tempted to plagiarise in a research paper
plagiarism risks
of students do not know how to cite sources
what is plagiarism
of students rephrase text without citing the author
what's plagiarism
of students think the teacher does not check for plagiarism
acceptable plagiarism percentage university

What is an acceptable Plagiarism percentage?


What is the authorised percentage of plagiarism in universities?


Compilatio software (or other plagiarism detectors) calculates the percentage of text taken from external sources (similarity rate) found in the analysed document. The document's corrector interprets this similarity rate to decide whether or not there is plagiarism.

The percentage of plagiarism that is acceptable depends on your institution's policy. Most universities accept a plagiarism rate of less than 10%.

Compilatio supports teachers and students with plagiarism detection and checking tools.

Detect plagiarism with Compilatio's software!

For teachers
The similarity detector for teachers

Software and tools to make your students aware of plagiarism.

For teachers
The similarity and AI detector for teachers

All the features and benefits of the Magister program, plus :

  • AI Content Detector
  • Multilingual similarity detector
  • Priority handling of your analyses
For students
The similarity detector for students

Plagiarism checker and resources to avoid plagiarism in your work.

For editors
The similarity detector for writers

Anti-plagiarism program for professional editors and writers.

For editors
The similarity and AI detector for writers

All the features and benefits of the Copyright program, plus:

  • AI content detection
  • Multilingual similarity detection
  • Priority handling of your analyses
risk penalties of plagiarism

What are the risks and penalties associated with plagiarism?


Taking quotes without indicating sources is a violation of academic regulations. The consequences can be severe.

Here are some examples of punishments related to plagiarism.


- Invalidation of the assignment impacted by plagiarism.
- Warning/blame.
- Temporary or permanent expulsion from any public higher education institution.


- up to 10 years' imprisonment.
- $250,000 fine.                                                                                                                    

Consequences that can affect the future:

- Reputational damage to the institution and student.
- Cloud of suspicion that follows the plagiarist for a long time and that raises questions for all the other students.
- Calling into question the value of the school's diploma and the quality of teaching.