Is it plagiarism if I use other peoples formulations and phrases? What if I do so massively? Or let's say, the structure or rough form of their essays?

(I think it should be, but I would like to know what most people think, leaving aside that it might be difficult to discover it when somebody just copies someone very roughly in form)

  • I think your question is too vague to answer. What exactly do you mean by people's phrases / formulations / wordings / structure? These are all slightly different things and copying can be applied to various degrees. Depending on the degree, it may or not be considered plagiarism. Perhaps you could focus on one particular form of copying and give some examples of what you mean. Oct 3, 2016 at 23:17
  • So, are you asking this so that you can avoid plagiarism in your own work? Or are you looking for evidence so you can accuse someone else of plagiarism?
    – GEdgar
    Oct 4, 2016 at 1:09

2 Answers 2


There's no hard-and-fast rule that if you copy 6 words, that's okay but 10 is not but, copying the substance of someone else's work, making only cosmetic changes is called "close paraphrasing" and would likely be considered plagiarism even if the source is cited. If it was, as you say, "massive" or if it omitted any citations to the original work, then, without doubt, that would absolutely be considered plagiarism. As an instructor, I know that if I discovered it in something a student submitted to me, I would certainly report it as suspected academic misconduct and I would expect my report to be sustained.

Here's an article you may find helpful: Successful vs. unsuccessful paraphrases


The case you point out is plagiarism; it just fits (almost) perfectly with the definition of that concept. To have a definition, go on the fallowing link: http://www.plagiarism.org/plagiarism-101/what-is-plagiarism/

You should at least try to reformulate, and to resume the works of the ones you are taking sentences from. Also, you can quote them, and add at the end of your paper a bibliography section, were you refer to them.

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