Playing by the Rules: An Essay Service Customer's Guide to Understanding Plagiarism


  1. Copyright VS Plagiarism
  2. Types of Plagiarism
  3. Famous Cases of Plagiarism
  4. The Hard Question: Is Buying Essays Online a Form of Plagiarism?
  5. How to Avoid Plagiarism When Using Essay Services

Plagiarism – the enemy of so many students and teachers. Students loathe it because it's easy to fall prey to it, while teachers hate it because many students are not aware that they're breaching academic integrity. Unfortunately, it has become so rampant that educational institutions from all over the world now use plagiarism-detecting tools to check for the originality of the papers their students submit.

In this day and age when online essay writing services are just a click away, it's easier than ever for students to fall into the plagiarism trap. In fact, according to a 2018 study, a staggering 31 million college students admit to paying third parties to work on their paper assignments.

But what is plagiarism, really? When does one cross the line between an "original" and "plagiarized" work, and how can students avoid committing this serious academic offense? This guide aims to help you have a better understanding of plagiarism and how you can protect yourself from its possible consequences, should you opt to use an essay writing service.

Types of Plagiarism

There are various types of plagiarism, all of which are serious violations of academic integrity. However, it's important to determine whether or not the act was intentional. Below, we have defined the most common types of plagiarism:

Complete Plagiarism

This is the most severe type of plagiarism wherein a researcher takes someone else's original work, and submits it under his or her name. Complete plagiarism is equivalent to intellectual theft that could result in the expulsion of a student.

Direct / Verbatim Plagiarism

This type of plagiarism occurs when an individual copies the manuscript or study of another person, word-for-word, without using quotation marks nor attribution; passing it off as their own work. It's somewhat like complete plagiarism, except that the individual only refers to some parts of another author's paper, rather than all of it.

Direct plagiarism is unethical and breaches academic honesty, and it calls for disciplinary action.


Self-plagiarism takes place when a student or researcher reuses his or her own previously submitted or published work – in part or in full – without attribution. For instance, it's academically dishonest to mix or incorporate part of the essay you wrote in high school, into a paper assignment in college. This also applies to submitting the same work for assignments in different courses or classes without prior permission from both instructors.

Mosaic Plagiarism

This refers to a situation where a student borrows several phrases from someone else's work, without using quotation marks; or using synonyms for an author's language, all while sticking to the same context and meaning as that of the original work.

Mosaic plagiarism is often difficult to detect because it's a kind of paraphrasing that interlays someone else's text within one's own work. But whether or not it's intentional, it's still a breach of academic integrity and is grounds for disciplinary action.

Accidental Plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism takes place when an individual neglects or commits a mistake in paraphrasing or quoting their sources, or unintentionally paraphrasing another author's work using the same words, phrases, and/or sentence structures, without attribution. Despite this, some cases of accidental plagiarism are taken as seriously as any other form of plagiarism, and are subject to the same range of disciplinary actions.

Famous Cases of Plagiarism

Melania Trump's anti-cyberbullying booklet

Just a year ago, Melania Trump's cyber-safety initiative for children became controversial due to allegations of plagiarism. As it turned out, the anti-cyberbullying booklet put out by the US First Lady had striking resemblance to that of the previous edition published under the Obama edition, from the graphics to the text.

This wasn't Melania Trump's first controversy regarding plagiarism. In 2016, she and her writing staff were criticized and accused of plagiarizing sections of a speech by former First Lady Michelle Obama.

The Napolitano case

In 1982, Gabrielle Napolitano, a senior college student at Princeton University, was accused of plagiarizing majority of her Spanish-class term paper, from a library book. While she cited her sources, she failed to include citations for some paraphrased content and did not include quotation marks for a number of verbatim quotes. The university's Committee on Discipline unanimously found the student to have committed plagiarism and punished her by delaying her bachelor's degree for a year.

The Serpico case

Amanda Serpico, a senior student at Rutgers University, was accused of plagiarism after some parts of her final paper were found to have been copied from other sources without attribution. Her violation was then reported to the dean and Serpico, despite writing several appeals to prove her innocence, has received an "F" grade and subsequently failed the course.

The Hard Question:
Is Buying Essays Online a Form of Plagiarism?

Technically, yes. Using an essay writing service to work on your paper is a form of plagiarism and is considered a serious academic violation by most teachers. After all, they don't just assign an essay to have their students produce one. The main objective is that they should be able to showcase their own understanding of the topic, their ability to express their thoughts and ideas, and how well they are able to analyze and draw conclusions from it.

Despite this, essay writing service customers de facto are offered full ownership of the paper they paid for - even its copyright. A STUDENT MAY SUBMIT A PURCHASED ESSAY AS HIS/HER OWN, AND NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW. In short, the use of the paper was allowed by the original author, therefore it's ethically acceptable.This is a case of "victimless plagiarism".

Indeed, buying an essay is a form of cheating but for many students who use writing services, a paid essays is often used as a "professionally-written model essay" that is merely used as inspiration for their own writing. They learn from it, they get to have a better understanding of the topic, and along the way, improve their own writing skills.

While universities want their students to work as independently as possible, they still recognize the fact that many of them need a bit of help. It pays to know the rules and policies of the university at the very start, and NOT after the fact.

How to Avoid Plagiarism When Using Essay Services?

Academic dishonesty among students is on the rise, mainly because the Internet has allowed them to have unlimited access to information that can be used for different purposes. However, universities have already prepared themselves for this fact and have found an efficient way to fight against plagiarism, by using plagiarism-detecting software.

Given this fact, you need to find ways for your paper to be original in the eyes of your teacher, even if you choose to hire an essay service. Here are some useful tips to avoid plagiarism:

  • Learn to paraphrase.

    If you find a statement that works for you and your essay, understand its context and then rewrite it in your own words. If possible, avoid appropriating more than two paraphrased sentences in a row so you won't fall under suspicion.
  • Incorporate your own ideas.

    Since the main objective of writing essays is to teach you how to analyze and draw conclusions from it, you might as well try to form your own statements and arguments through critical analysis of the data at hand. By producing a series of texts based on your own ideas, the paper will come out as a mix of your own and someone else's.
  • Treat your ordered essay as a "model paper".

    While it's true that essay services aim to produce plagiarism-free, properly referenced papers, it's not always a good idea to submit it as your own. A better idea is to treat it as a model essay - the perfect reference for you to see how to properly paraphrase, draw your own conclusions and ideas, and interlace the thoughts of a professional with your own. Most importantly, you'll learn how to cite properly!

Plagiarism is only one of the problems essay writing service customers face. It is also important to observe other important precautions to avoid getting caught.

Copying someone else's work seems like the easiest way to deal with a difficult task but going to college means you've chosen the hard path, so you might as well go above and beyond to produce papers that won't result in academic disciplinary action.

However, if you decide to buy an essay online, do not worry about plagiarism. Just choose a reliable company and you will certainly get the original work.

We hope this guide has convinced you that plagiarism is NEVER the solution to a problem. Heed our word and avoid it like the plague!

David Anderson is the founder of IHateWritingEssays. He hates the idea of companies baiting unsuspecting individuals with fraudulent services. Starting from school, he too, struggled to find a helping hand when it comes to writing assignments. Over time, he focused on publishing comprehensive reviews and helping students find reliable essay services. Thus, the review site came to be – serving as the "voice and the iron fist" of an industry expert.