Is paraphrasing considered Plagiarism? A case-study

Is paraphrasing considered Plagiarism? A case-study

Every writer consults various sources to get firsthand information about his subject. This knowledge allows him to understand the subject, expand it and then come up with his views on that. Doesn’t matter whether you’re doing copy, content, or academic writing, this is a due procedure that you have to follow.

There is a very thin line between writing after true understanding and writing after casual reading. That line becomes the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism.  The issue has become the talk of the town in these modern times.

Let’s first recognize the difference between plagiarism and paraphrasing. We shall conceptualize it with a particular case study.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism means blatantly copying the published work of others without giving them any credit for it. It is a mistake that can inflict serious damage upon your reputation as a writer. The consequences can range from a ban and monetary losses to a prison sentence depending upon the severity and nature of the crime.


It is a multi-layered issue. The reasons for it are different for different people. The most common include lack of understanding, unfamiliarity with the language, insufficient writing skills, foreign mode of learning and laziness, etc.  

When a Text is plagiarized

To curb plagiarism, we need to understand the scenarios where it occurs. Plagiarism occurs when

  • When text is a direct copy without including citation

If you are copying another writer’s thoughts in your writing, it is your professional obligation to give him credits.  It is a token of respect for his work and contribution to a particular subject. This is a common practice that has been going on for centuries now.  


However, sometimes writers try to bypass the law and avoid giving credit.  It doesn’t take time for any sophisticated plagiarism tool to catch this interference.  You should give credits or enter copied content in quotation marks.

This is the most serious form of plagiarism and contains severe consequences for plagiarists. As it can’t be defended on any legal forum.

To understand it consider the following case study:

Original Phrase:


Western law begins with two major subgroups. One contains the legal systems of the European continent. Although there are many differences among European legal systems, they are all descended from the law of the Roman Empire and were influenced by the procedures of Medieval Roman Catholic canon law.”

Dorothy H. Bracey, Exploring Law and Culture 31 (2006).


Now, if you write the same thing as:


Western law begins with two major subgroups. One contains the legal systems of the European continent. Although there are many differences among European legal systems, they are all descended from the law of the Roman Empire and were influenced by the procedures of Medieval Roman Catholic canon law.”


If you don’t give any credits and software catches. It would be considered plagiarism, meaning you have tried to cheat your audience.

  • When rephrase is too close to original 

It is a much more common and sophisticated form of plagiarism.  Writers often rewrite someone’s thoughts in their own words. However, the problem arises when the rephrase is too close to the original.

The uncanny resemblance with the source means that the writer has neither thought about it nor he has tried to recreate it in his own words. The paragraph is nothing but an eyewash with no creative input from the writer.


If we rephrase our concerned paragraph as:

pasted image 0

You see that rephrasing only contains small tweaks without giving any credit to the original author, it is considered plagiarism. Hence this paragraph is plagiarized 

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing means rewriting a published work in your own words. The paraphrase keeps the central theme intact while altering the sentence structure, linguistic versatility, argumentation, and readability.

Every writer needs paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism.  It can be divided into two types

  • Proper Paraphrasing
  • Improper paraphrasing

Proper paraphrasing means completely altering source content, so much so that no tool can find a trace of the source. While improper, you only do trivial changes.


To improve SEO rankings, content writers are often required to rewrite content on a topic. For that, they need to learn this technique. There are plenty of online paraphrasing tools available in the market which can do this with ease.

How do you know Paraphrasing?

  • When rephrasing includes proper citation

If your rewrite is too close to the original. You should include citations to pay tribute to original authors. This validates your rephrase and makes it acceptable in the eyes of the academic world.


This also suggests that you are well-versed with contemporary research on your subject.


For Example, after close rephrasing, we should write our case study as


“Western Law begins with two subgroups. One includes the legal systems of Europe. Although there exist several European legal systems, they all have from the Law of the Roman Empire and have been influenced by “Medieval Roman Catholic canon law”

Dorothy H. Bracey, Exploring Law and Culture 31 (2006).

The reference has been shown in Bold headings. This means that the idea has been taken from the mentioned book.

  • Proper Paraphrasing: rewriting the understating of the idea, not the words

Another way to avoid plagiarism is to write the core concepts mentioned in the paragraph in your own words. However, the rewrite shouldn’t be close to the source.

Every writer is unique and can describe a subject. Proper paraphrasing takes more than hours to rewrite a small 1000-word article.

To save time you can use the paraphrasing tool as well. These tools are powered by advanced natural language processing (NLP) to perform their actions. They can paraphrase from simple word alterations to completely renewing the whole article. They can grant a professional outlook and improve the quality of your rewrite.

To understand this further, put our case study to test in a well-known rephraser.

You see on the right that the content has been altered. This content is free from any plagiarism.

Final Words: 

Modern writers need to differentiate paraphrasing from plagiarism. Plagiarism is a crime while paraphrasing is like a lifeline for digital and academic writing.

This article has presented a case study co, which describes the difference between the two practices. Understand it and start learning paraphrasing. 


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