“Plagiarism is a serious offense that comes with consequences,” states any plagiarism-related article or educational institution’s honor code. But what exactly does it mean, and what to expect if one is caught for plagiarism, especially not for the first time?

Why plagiarism is punished so seriously

A bit of a spoiler here: plagiarism can entail detention and even expulsion, especially if committed repeatedly. Why do teachers need a plagiarism tool to check for originality, and what makes copying such a big problem?

  1. Plagiarism violates authorship rights. When one copies from somebody without attribution, they literally steal from the author.
  2. Plagiarism infringes the institution’s honor code. Copying instead of writing authentically is blatant cheating, which is unacceptable in any college.
  3. Plagiarism ruins academic integrity. Cheating causes inequality, is unfair, and affects the one who copies in the first turn, as gaining knowledge is impossible without honest efforts.
  4. Plagiarism threatens reputation. By publishing the plagiarized work and approving the graduates who have cheated in their papers, the institution puts at risk its name.

What happens if one plagiarizes in college

As we have seen, plagiarism is serious enough to cause severe repercussions even if committed for the first time. If one gets caught copying again, the consequences will for sure be even more drastic. What exactly happens depends on the rules of the particular professor, the college’s guidelines, and the amount of plagiarism detected. The possible scenarios are:

  • failing grade with no permission for a re-do;
  • reduction of the final grade for the entire course regardless of the other marks;
  • automatic fail for the course;
  • expulsion from the course;
  • report to the dean’s office for further disciplinary action;
  • being put on academic probation;
  • suspension from the college;
  • permanent expulsion from the college.

In the least severe penalty cases, when the plagiarizer gets an “F” for the assignment, the instructors may also oblige the student to attend writing ethics workshops or similar academic integrity-related courses.

In any case, plagiarism is a type of violation that usually goes to one’s transcript, and massively impacts the reputation, in many cases, jeopardizing the further academic career.

How to avoid plagiarism

We assume all that sounds impressive enough so that no one wants to take a risk and plagiarize the assignment, especially for the second time. Why then so many plagiarism accusations occur, and are they always fair? The thing is, apart from deliberate cheating, there are cases of accidental plagiarism when students copy with no intention to do so.

How can one avoid plagiarism-related problems?

  1. Produce authentic work. Reflect on the ideas, and contribute to the writing instead of copying someone’s thoughts. Even if based on the sources, the paper should contain original concepts that make the writing your own.
  2. Cite your sources. Proper quotation and attribution are the pillars of the no-plagiarism policy. Use a citation generator to make referencing fast and easy!
  3. Paraphrase correctly. No one expects the writer to invent the new words. However, there is a huge difference between basic rewriting with synonymization and reflecting on the material to produce an authentic piece.
  4. Check for accidental plagiarism. Sometimes we repeat someone else’s thoughts by coincidence. Use a plagiarism detector to stay on the safe side and eliminate potential matches before submitting the assignment.

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