Differences between Plagiarism and Similarity

Have you ever been faced with confusion on the Differences between Plagiarism and Similarity? To understand what plagiarism means and stands for, it means you need to understand its logic, implications, and definition.

Plagiarism is usually an issue ethically, which could quickly turn into a legal issue if not adequately attended to. It depends on the situation, though. Students might not be subject to legal measures when plagiarising content though they would be responsible. This is not the case for publishers. This piece will discuss the difference between similarity and plagiarism and other associated definitions like copyright infringement, which you as a student or researcher need to be familiar with.

What Is Plagiarism?

Copyright infringement or piracy is against the law, while plagiarism is against ethics. The definition of plagiarism in its broad sense means presenting the work of someone as your work. The word “work,” as used in the definition, includes various things which range from ideas, images to words. You could take someone’s idea, words, or image and claim it is yours.

Then you would keep all of the credit that is supposed to be given to the original owner for yourself. This is why plagiarism is a violation of ethics, not a violation of the law. Not every industry defines and explains plagiarism the same way. For example, a musician or a poet’s standards are entirely different from that of a lawyer. As a result, it is not easy to understand or get if some individuals’ work or jobs in different spheres of life could be plagiarised.


It is pretty clear, though, that one of the significant harms of plagiarism lies in collecting the credit for works or ideas or publications owned by other people for yourself. A substantial issue with plagiarism which is very serious is using materials from the internet without having suitable sources of authority, both unintentionally and intentionally.

What is Similarity?

Similarity refers to the closeness of appearance a work has to another. At times, this closeness or resemblance is essential for the paper’s general usage and review of the article. But a high amount of resemblance or similarity reduces the qualify of the brand new work.

What are the Differences between Plagiarism and Similarity?

Whenever the content of a material, which might be a paper or a review, or an article, is checked, similarities to various other materials could appear. This does not mean that such content was plagiarised. At such points, this means these similar content to other materials was found, but it does not mean illegal or dishonest practices were involved when the paper, review, or article was written.

When writing academic papers, there is a very high percentage of instances where similarity could be explained easily by analysing and comparing the context and the content. Quoting the title of other papers which would be detected as a similarity. So would things like constructs, common phrases, quotes, references, bibliographies, book titles, among others. Though they are all similar, they do not qualify as plagiarism because plagiarism implies making use of the ideas or work of someone else as if you were the one who created it.


For example, reviewing an academic paper. One does not need to say that such a review would feature various quotes from the original paper. Apart from this, it also includes various other similarities resulting from paraphrasing. These make use of various quotes that the original paper has. Apart from this, it would also include profound similarities because of paraphrasing. Making use of the same things like the concepts and so forth. If credit is given when necessary, this would not be considered plagiarism.

Mark Fowler, an attorney, wrote an article titled ‘The Unoriginal Sin: Differences Between Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement in a blog. This book adequately examined legal implications and everything associated with it in detail. One of the essential points one should take away with this is that copyright infringement could occur when an author has currently discussed all the credit at points where they are necessary. For instance, quoting someone else’s work extensively could be considered a high level of infringement even though someone very honest and consistent provides all the necessary references.

Ways one could evade both Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism

Plagiarism could be easily evaded by consistently giving and acknowledging credit to sources. This applies equally to paraphrasing, quoting, or simply expressing the words and ideas of someone else in their own words.

The difference between Copyright Infringement and Similarity

The difference between copyright infringement and similarity is way harder to spot because similarity always occurs in any text. There is no way one could write either a paper or a review or an article without at least some form of similarity. If the level of similarity is zero and non-existent, then the newly written material would be completely different. The content itself would be different, and it would have no association with the original content or the meaning it is supposed to give the audience.


The similarity and copyright infringements are the amount and how it is used, which changes the newly written document to copyright infringement. When papers, reviews, or articles are checked to serve as an academic periodical, editors and publishers need to check the similarity available in the new paper. They need to make sure and check if the amount of similarity available in the new article, paper, or paper review constitutes copyright infringement or plagiarism.

They also need to check if the amount of similarity between the original and the new paper does not reduce the quality of the newly written material. When all of these are checked, and it is known that the brand new paper, review, or article is clear of high levels of similarity, copyright infringement, and plagiarism, then the new material would have high quality. It could be published or posted to its target audience.

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