What is plagiarism?

According to the Spanish Royal Academy plagiarize  "is copying in the substantial works of others, giving them as their own".

The elements that characterize plagiarism are:
  • The total or partial unauthorized copy of a work of others.
  • The presentation of a foreign work as his own, supplanting the true author.

Therefore, an act of plagiarism is carried out when a work is published, published and reproduced on behalf of an author other than the real one. The moral and patrimonial rights of the author are violated , because his authorship is usurped and his economic interests are defrauded.

Any literary, scientific or artistic work such as:

  • The books, brochures, forms, writings, reports, conferences ...
  • Musical compositions, with or without lyrics.
  • Dramatic, musical, choreographic and, in general, theatrical works.
  • Cinematographic and audiovisual works, multimedia works, photographic works.
  • Sculpture, painting, drawings ... and other plastic works.
  • Architectural and engineering works.
  • Computer programs and databases.
  • Forms of drawings, signs, models, patents, trademarks, slogans and phrases divulgatorias of objects produced by the industrial arts.
  • And the works derived from the originals, such as translations, adaptations, revisions, compendiums, musical arrangements, among others.

They would be cases of plagiarism, for example:

  • Copy a work and present it as your own, regardless of whether the copy is complete or partial. If the work is protected by copyright, it will not be relevant if much or little of it has been copied for plagiarism.
  • Play a text in my work without reference to its author.
  • Include phrases, paragraphs or ideas of others in our writings, without citing their origin or author.
  • Copy paragraphs or sentence sentences without indicating their origin.
  • Paraphrase an unacceptable text or idea, without citing its author.
  • Buy a job to another, which is called "black", and present it as their own.
  • Present a work of ours already used: we speak of "autoplaggio".
  • Copy any multimedia work (audio, video, Webs ...), music, graphics, without citing the author.

But there is no plagiarism when:

  • we express or present ideas and original works.
  • we disclose and reproduce public knowledge.
  • We present the results of an original investigation.

Tutorial on plagiarism and academic honesty based on an iResearch material originally developed by The University of Sydney Library under a Creative Commons license:

Why is it a "plagiarism" crime?

Because the Intellectual Property Law recognizes the author:

  • The inalienable and inalienable right to demand recognition of his status as author of the work
  • The exclusive exercise of exploitation rights, such as the reproduction of the work, which can not be done without its authorization
  • The legal actions to claim compensation for the material and moral damages caused by the infringing act

And art. 270.1 of the Penal Code includes plagiarism as a crime against intellectual property, when it is carried out "without the authorization of the owners of the corresponding intellectual property rights or of their assignees".

How can I avoid plagiarism?


If in my work I literally quote a sentence or a paragraph, I must put the text in quotation marks, in italics or with another type of letter and quote the source from which I extracted it, with the complete bibliographic reference.

What should be cited?

  • Data, figures, statistics that are not common knowledge.
  • Theories or specific ideas that have been proposed by other people.
  • Any specific information that is not public knowledge.


If I use another person's ideas using my own words or my own form of expression, I must include the complete bibliographic reference of the original source from which I extracted the ideas.

Tips to paraphrase :

  • Read the original text carefully, extracting key words and phrases that summarize the approach.
  • Express it with your own words. To do so, you can do the following:
    • Use generic words
    • Use synonyms
    • Switch from active to passive, or vice versa
    • Change the structure of the phrase
    • Reduce paragraphs to phrases
    • Change parts of the text
  • Compare your sentences with the original and make sure the information is true, and do not accidentally use the same phrases or words.


I must quote both the bibliography consulted and the works of others (or fragments of them) incorporated in my work, whether written, audio or audiovisual, or images, photographs, etc.

You can choose the recommended style of appointments for each subject area, or that required by the publication (APA, MLA, Vancouver, etc.)

What tools can I use to detect plagiarism?

The University of Alicante has signed an anti-plagiarism software, Turnitin , accessible from UACloud for PAS and PDI of the university. There are also other programs, both free and paid:

Programs with some free features

  • DOCODE : you have the option of a free account for 90 days that allows the analysis of two documents per week comparing them with others that exist on the web.
  • Copyscape : search for online copies of a web page from the URL.
  • Plagium : searches for documents equal or similar to the entered text, up to 1000 characters. Allows an occasional quick search.
  • The Plagiarism Checker : shows the web pages where the entered text is located.
  • Dupli Checker : compares the text entered with documents on the web. Maximum 1000 words per search.
  • Plagiarisma : works on Windows, Android, BlacBerry. Maximum 2000 characters per search. Free registration allows scanning 3 documents a day.
  • TinEye : image search engine in reverse.
  • Antiplagiarist : it is a software that allows to verify in documents the fragments of copied text.

What can I do if I recognize that someone has plagiarized my work?

As the general rule says that "the author will be presumed, unless proof to the contrary, who appears as such in the work", it will be my responsibility as the author and holder of the moral rights, to take the appropriate actions to recognize paternity over my work (articles 6.1 and 138 of the Intellectual Property Law).

If no action is taken by the author of the work, the authorship of the one who through his name, signature or sign is identified as such will continue to be presumed.

If the plagiarism is done for profit and to the detriment of a third party, it will be considered a crime of plagiarism of art. 270.1 of the Penal Code, then it can be denounced by any person who has knowledge of its realization.