Accidental plagiarism is usually the result of being rushed, unorganized, or uninformed about the citation and research process.
Whether it’s an accident or an intentional act of plagiarism, the consequences are essentially the same. It can result in a reprimand, failed grade, failed course, or even worse.
We all make mistakes. It’s simply a part of life. One school-related topic that is prone to its fair share of mistakes? Plagiarism. Believe it or not, it’s not hard to plagiarize mistakenly.
The consequences of plagiarism
If you use someone else’s words or ideas without properly crediting them, you could be committing plagiarism. The exact consequences of plagiarism depend on your institution’s rules and the type of plagiarism, but common consequences include:
- Grade penalties
- Failing your course
- Facing disciplinary action
- Suspension or expulsion from your university
Apart from the immediate consequences, being caught plagiarizing is likely to result in a black mark on your academic or professional record, creating problems for your future career.
To avoid plagiarism, it is essential to cite your sources in every writing piece you submit properly.
Consequences of plagiarism for students
Plagiarism in colleges can be deliberate or accidental, but it almost always has serious consequences. You can usually find the details of your institution’s plagiarism policy in its code of academic conduct.
If you unintentionally plagiarize, and you have no previous infractions, then most colleges will lower your grade or fail you for the course. You might also be required to attend a workshop on plagiarism and how to prevent it. Some universities might place you on disciplinary probation.
If you intentionally commit plagiarism (for example, by copying and pasting text or paraphrasing another author’s ideas without citing the source), you will probably fail the assignment or the course, be subject to disciplinary action, and potentially be suspended.
If your college finds that you have directly plagiarized (i.e. by submitting a paper that is wholly or mostly someone else’s work and passing it off as your own), you could be expelled from your program and university.
Plagiarism of this type is likely to appear on your permanent record and have long-term consequences for your career. Some universities will even revoke your degree long after you’ve graduated if they discover that you plagiarized in your thesis or dissertation.
Consequences of plagiarism for researchers
In academia and other research-based professions, plagiarism has serious personal and professional consequences. An accusation of plagiarism can severely damage your reputation; it could result in the loss of research funding and even your position.
Plagiarizing has both short- and long-term consequences for your research career. In one example, Chinese researchers attempted to publish a plagiarized article in the Journal of Korean Medical Science. When they were caught, the researchers were banned from submitting to the journal for five years.
If you’re an academic or researcher who has committed plagiarism, you will have trouble finding another position. Additionally, you will have difficulties finding journals that will publish your work or investors willing to fund your research.
Consequences of plagiarism for other professionals
Plagiarism is not only an academic issue: it is considered a serious offence to plagiarize his final paper in all professional fields. While public figures and writers often bear the most serious repercussions of plagiarism, other professionals can also face strict work consequences.
If you’re found plagiarizing, it could potentially end your career, ruin your reputation, and reduce your job prospects.
Example of plagiarism by a U.S. Senator
In 2014, U.S. Senator John Walsh was forced to withdraw from an election when he discovered that he plagiarized his final paper while earning his master’s degree at the United States Army War College.
After following its established procedures for investigating academic misconduct, the War College rescinded Walsh’s master’s degree. The procedure included running Walsh’s paper through plagiarism detection software.
Legal consequences of plagiarism
Besides reputational and career damage, plagiarizers can face legal consequences, whether they are students or working professionals.
The most serious legal issue is copyright infringement. If you publish plagiarized material, the original text author might have legal grounds to sue you. If the author wins, you will have to pay monetary restitution, in addition to any legal fees you may incur during the process.
tips for avoiding plagiarism
Plagiarism is sometimes deliberate, but it’s often committed unintentionally by students or professionals unaware of how to credit their sources properly. Avoiding plagiarism involves paying careful attention to where you find information and how you present it in your own texts.
Please keep track of your sources: every time you note down a quotation or idea, please note the full details of the source where you found it.
Quote properly: If you use someone else’s words—even if it’s just a short phrase—clearly mark the quotation by using quotation marks or blockquote formatting and make sure you have quoted the author’s exact words.
Cite your sources: Every time you quote or paraphrase a source, include a citation to credit the original author and show the reader where you found the information. There are many different citation styles with different rules, but the most important thing is to cite clearly and consistently. Citation machines can help you with this.
Use a plagiarism checker: Even if you’re confident that you haven’t plagiarized, an automated plagiarism checker can identify mistakes like missing citations and paraphrased passages that are too similar to the original text.
Plagiarism checkers for students
The Scribbr Plagiarism Checker detects similarities between your paper and a comprehensive database of web and publication content. Within 10 minutes, you can make sure you have not (accidentally) plagiarized.
We also compared the best plagiarism checkers for research papers. For each plagiarism checker, you can find the plagiarism percentage detected in our test documents and read a more in-depth review of the pros and cons.