Plagiarism is as common as it is unfortunate. A lot of students have faced serious academic problems because of it, and even more of them have plagiarized and somehow managed not to get caught.
Why should we care about plagiarism?
- Plagiarism jeopardizes the very purpose of education
- Plagiarism is unfair to professors and other students
- Plagiarism is punishable. In fact, you can be given an ethics sentence in a court of law.
If you still think that plagiarism is not a big deal or are confident you can get away with it, keep reading.
By the time you are done reading this post, you will find out that plagiarism, even incremental plagiarism, which is only plagiarizing a portion of a text, is wrong.
In addition, you’ll discover the ethics sentence– what your sentence is in a court of law if you are accused of plagiarism.
Next, you’ll explore the four types of plagiarism.
Furthermore, you will discover the answer to the question, “Can you go to jail for plagiarism?”
Finally, you will learn when you don’t need to cite your sources since what you write won’t be considered plagiarism.
Although this post has a section for students, this content has an important message for all writers regardless of their purpose for writing.
Let’s discover the harsh ethics sentence you risk if you are caught plagiarizing, what plagiarizing is, and when your using other writers’ ideas is not considered plagiarism.
What is considered plagiarism?
Plagiarism refers to the use of words or ideas that belong to someone other than the author without due credit. It is perfectly okay and even expected to rely on research in your written assignments. But everything in your paper that did not come from your head must always be properly cited, no matter how minor it is.
For example, if you are writing an article about income inequality in the United States and use data or ideas from a Pew Research Center article, this article should appear as a citation.
Otherwise, you are at risk of facing serious repercussions such as getting an ethics sentence in a court of law. Plagiarism is a violation, and it is punished respectively. The ethics sentence can be as severe as a monetary fine or even up to 10 years of jail time.
The answer to the question “What is plagiarism” is quite tricky.
The thing is, even unintentional plagiarism is penalized. It is all too easy to read an idea in one of the research articles and forget that it was not actually yours.
Such plagiarism is not always detectable, but if someone catches it, you might still be in trouble. So it is a good strategy to take notes while reading the sources you are going to use. This way, you will not forget a phrase or idea that belongs to someone else.
Why plagiarism is such a big deal in schools
When students are given a written assignment, the goal is to check if they have read the course materials, thought about them thoroughly, and understood all the key concepts and ideas. Your original ideas are what matters. Even if your writing skills are exceptional, they are not typically what your professor expects to grade your paper on (unless it is a composition or academic writing class).
Also, plagiarizing is unfair to other students. Maintaining a high GPA is a big deal in universities in the U.S. and most other countries. The GPA can affect one’s internship and career opportunities in the future, not to mention scholarships while studying. When a student plagiarizes and gets a high grade they did not actually earn, it puts their classmates who have worked hard on their papers at a disadvantage.
What is more, anti-plagiarism sanctions aim to protect authors. The question “How do you know if you have been plagiarized” is a good one. The truth is that in most cases, you do not.
Unless the work that used your words and ideas is published, it is basically impossible to find out that someone else has used it without citing it. So one of the reasons why the academic community is so strict about plagiarism is that it cares about actual authors.
The most common types of plagiarism
Not all plagiarism is created equal. Copying someone else’s work in full is not the same as accidentally borrowing an idea or two.
These are the most common types of plagiarism:
1. Accidental plagiarism
This type of plagiarism is common even among honest and diligent students who had no intention to steal someone else’s ideas. As discussed, it is easy to forget that a thought does not belong to you.
2. Paraphrasing without citations
Paraphrasing without giving credit to the real author is also quite common. This is a much more serious offense because it implies intent. The authors guilty of paraphrasing plagiarism typically take the original work and rewrite it in their own words.
By the way, contrary to popular belief, this type of plagiarism is not that difficult to catch, especially if the original work is quite well-known. Both professors and plagiarism checker for schools akin to PlagiarismCheck.org know what they are doing.
3. Patchwork plagiarism
Patchwork plagiarism is not unlike uncited paraphrasing, except it is a little more subtle. The writers who use it normally write the paper on their own but then throw in parts of other authors’ works (paraphrased).
Again, a sensitive plagiarism software for schools or an attentive professor is perfectly capable of detecting patchwork plagiarism.
4. Dishonest citing
This one is rarely intentional yet still counts. Oftentimes, students mix up one source with another and forget where a certain passage or idea comes from. But in the cases when source-based plagiarism is done purposefully, it is pretty serious. This happens when the writer does not bother to check which author the idea they are citing belongs to and just cites a random source.
Plagiarism ethics sentence
When we discuss an ethics sentence in this context, we don’t mean a sentence with the word “ethics” in it.
What is a criminal ethics sentence?
An ethics sentence is a sentence given to people convicted of an ethics violation. Plagiarism is considered a violation of ethics.
You can be brought into court where the judge will slap you with an ethics sentence.
Do you know the ethics sentence if you are caught plagiarizing?
It’s safe to assume writers believe if they are caught plagiarizing, they will get a mere slap on the wrist from whoever catches them.
As you see, I polled the writing community on Instagram. I asked if you could go to jail for plagiarizing. 100% of the respondents reported that an ethics sentence would not include jail time.
But that is dead wrong.
Here are the consequences if you are found guilty of plagiarism:
According to iThenticate, in a court of law, a judge will give you an ethics sentence including one or more of the following:
- $100 minimum fine
- $50,000 maximum fine
- A maximum of ten years in jail
Your ethics sentence will usually include being convicted of a misdemeanor. However, according to the blog, your ethics sentence could involve a felony conviction.
“Plagiarism can also be considered a felony under certain state and federal laws. For example, if a plagiarist copies and earns more than $2,500 from copyrighted material, he or she may face up to $250,000 in fines and up to ten years in jail” (Source).
How to avoid plagiarism
Plagiarism can now be avoided much more easily owing to the online paraphrase tool that takes plagiarized content and converts it into original content. You simply enter the content in the paraphrasing tool, and their algorithm will make it plagiarism-free.
Avoiding plagiarism is not as difficult as it may seem—no need to be paranoid. The rule of thumb is that you have to cite everything except general knowledge (obviously, citing a sentence claiming that Lisbon is the capital of Portugal is unnecessary). Any precise information beyond this, such as statistics or historical facts, should be cited.
A question that a lot of students are asking is, “How do schools check for plagiarism?” The answer is quite simple. First, they use highly sensitive plagiarism checkers that catch matches not only with published works but also with student papers submitted earlier. Among other things, this means that submitting the same essay twice to different professors will not work.
Then, professors grading student papers are looking for plagiarism “manually.” Students are often sloppy, so it is way easier to see if a certain idea belongs to someone other than the author of the paper. Such things as the change of the tone or writing style, a sudden shift to a different tense, or words above the vocabulary level of the rest of the paper all point to plagiarism.
Wrapping Up: The Consequences of Plagiarism Such As an Ethics Sentence
In closing, plagiarism is a crime and is taken seriously as such.
This post cited several sources that agree if you are caught plagiarizing, you can be given be slapped with a felony conviction and given an ethics sentence of up to one year in prison and a monetary fine of up to $50,000.
In my humble opinion, this so isn’t worth the risks of plagiarizing.
Readers, please share so writers discover the severe consequences of plagiarism.
I look forward to your views in the comments section. Were you aware of this information about an ethics sentence for plagiarism?
Authors: Janice Wald and a Contributing Author
Janice Wald is the founder of MostlyBlogging.com and co-founder of the Mostly Blogging Academy. She is an ebook author, blogger, blogging coach, blogging judge, freelance writer, and speaker. She won the Best Internet Marketer Award and the Best Blogger Award at the 2021 Infinity Blog Awards. Wald was also nominated as 2019 Best Internet Marketer by the Infinity Blog Awards and in 2017 as the Most Informative Blogger by the London Bloggers Bash. She’s been featured on Small Business Trends, the Huffington Post, and Lifehack.
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