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Advice on detection of similarities in academic works

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Advice on detection of similarities in academic works

  • Plagiarism, questions with answers


What is plagiarism?

A quick definition would be that plagiarism is the act of pretending an intellectual or artistic work by someone else is our own. However, we can also consider plagiarism to be not mentioning the sources consulted in the completion of a work, copying entire extracts or paraphrasing texts, among other unethical practices.

Who does it harm?

In the first instance, plagiarism harms the creator of the original work, whose author’s rights are violated.


In an academic setting, teachers are also affected, as their role of instructing students and providing knowledge is altered. The person who has committed plagiarism is also harmed. Being able to analyse, summarize and assess sources of information are basic skills for the personal and academic development of all students, to be acquired during their university education. By plagiarizing, students miss out on the opportunity to acquire them.

Copying [...] and plagiarism [...] are fraudulent activities that constitute a serious infringement of intellectual property rights and violate the basic, fundamental principles of academic work in which a student must produce individual, reflective and original work.

Source: Regulations Governing Course Plans For Subjects and the Assessment and Marking of Learning Outcomes at the University of Barcelona

How can we recognize it?

Apart from the most obvious forms, such as handing in someone else’s work as if it were our own, there are other ways of plagiarizing:


  • Copying extracts, images, graphics and other elements without citing their origin
  • Using information from a different work or publication without listing it in the bibliography
  • Paraphrasing, rewriting or translating a text without citing the source
  • Reusing our own previous work without making reference to it (self-plagiarism)
  • Using someone else’s ideas or words as our own when they are not considered general knowledge
How can we prevent it?

By following some good practices in academic writing, such as:


  • Marking with inverted commas and citing the origin of any word-for-word reproductions of other texts
  • Writing in our own words
  • Citing the sources used in the bibliography
  • Citing according to the designated style requirements
How can we detect it?

There are several software tools capable of automatically detecting evidence of plagiarism in written work. One such software tool is URKUND, used by universities and academic institutions all over the world, which the University of Barcelona has integrated into its Virtual Campus.


Are there consequences?

Absolutely. In addition to the harm it can cause, as described above, plagiarizing can have serious academic consequences and, in the most extreme cases, legal repercussions.

Plagiarism is the most serious form of appropriation of intellectual authorship. Plagiarism is considered bad practice at the University, regardless of the legal responsibility it entails [...]

The University of Barcelona undertakes to report and sanction plagiarism at the University, promoting actions that help detect and prevent it.

Source: Code of ethics on integrity and best practices of the University of Barcelona

Where can I find out more?

CRAI UB offers a wealth of information about plagiarism and intellectual property and academic writing in general.


  • Resources on plagiarism for teaching staff



  • Resources on plagiarism for students




For more information, consult the FAQs or contact us via User support service (SAU).



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