The mention of plagiarism often conjures the image of a lazy student passing existing published papers as their own. While this understanding of plagiarism highlights one common way in which plagiarism is perpetrated by students, many errors could amount to unintentional plagiarism, exposing you to negative repercussions.
If you are unsure of how you might fall victim to plagiarism, this article will highlight various ways in which you could find yourself a victim and also highlight how plagiarism affects students. This guide should thus help you in writing your papers while avoiding the negative consequences that come with plagiarizing academic papers.
Why is plagiarism a problem?
So, why is plagiarism bad? Academic papers aim to gauge a reader’s understanding and to bring about new information on a topic. passing another author’s work as your own therefore ranks as an academic transgression as you are ‘stealing’ the intellectual work of another scholar.
Also, plagiarism obscures the sources of your ideas, limiting a reader’s ability to establish the context of the claims taken from various excerpts.
Why do students plagiarize?
There are many reasons why a student may plagiarize their work. Although it is often assumed that plagiarism is done with malicious intent, there are many scenarios where a student could plagiarize their work unintentionally.
Some of the common reasons for plagiarism include:
This refers to the plagiarism errors that arise from a student’s limited writing capacity as opposed to a blatant disregard for academic honesty.
- Poor mastery of referencing styles resulting in poorly attributed references. Often, students might omit crucial details when coming up with references, or present their references in a different style than the one that was recommended, resulting in poor acknowledgment of sources used in their papers.
- Poor recording of sources during research, resulting in the attribution of a quote to the wrong author.
- Confusion as to when to cite used sources, with many students adding citations to quotes and leaving out paraphrased chunks of ideas.
- Omission of a reference from the ‘work cited’ page besides having included an in-text citation for the borrowed idea.
This type of plagiarism is intentional and usually involves schemes to hijack other people’s ideas without acknowledging the authors. Some of how students commit intentional plagiarism include:
- Copying an entire paragraph or section from another person’s work and using it in your paper without citing the source.
- Paraphrasing a chunk of published work and including it within your paper.
- Stitching up many ideas from existing sources to make an argument.
- Recycling work from a previous paper without citing the paper.
Is plagiarism cheating?
Based on the above information, it would be wrong to term all plagiarism as cheating. Unlike intentional plagiarism, unintentional plagiarism may arise even when a student does not intend to present existing work as their own.
However, this does not excuse any form of plagiarism in your paper. although unintentional plagiarism can be excused as an ‘innocent mistake’, it could be avoided through proper editing and is thus punishable during editing.
Implications of plagiarism
Why should you avoid plagiarism? Besides the academic ethics that require you to avoid plagiarism, there is a myriad of consequences that should deter you from plagiarising your papers.
Some of these consequences include:
- Expulsion from a university.
- Failing grades.
- Legal consequences due to copyright infringement.
- Loss of your research funding.
Unintentional plagiarism could get a less serious punishment in some institutions with some schools mandating that you attend a plagiarism workshop and others deducting some points from your overall score.
How much plagiarism is allowed?
The acceptable range of plagiarism varies depending on the institution. Before we share the percentage allowed across various institutions it is important to note how plagiarism tools work.
Many plagiarism detectors work by gauging similarities between your paper and existing publications. As such, your paper could be flagged for cited sources, commonly used phrases, and in-text citations. Although you can fix phrases to overcome plagiarism, there is no go-around for the citations.
With this in mind, many institutions allow for plagiarism provided it does not exceed 15%. However, we recommend that you use premium plagiarism detectors and fix all the errors you can with your target fixed at the lowest plagiarism score possible.
If this proves a challenging task, consider engaging our expert team for guidance in editing your paper.