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Plagiarism is a serious offense. However, academic writing is also a tedious, time-consuming and a tough task. Academic assignments frighten students as they want to get the best grades. One of the biggest concern when it comes to academic writing is plagiarism.
As mentioned before, plagiarism is a serious offense. If you are accused of plagiarizing, it can cost you your grades. Your degree may also be canceled and it makes your future uncertain. Therefore, one must avoid plagiarism at all costs.
However, sometimes one may also be wrongly accused of plagiarism. Is this the case with you too?
What does one do when they are accused of plagiarism? Need to know how to prove you didn’t plagiarize? This article will give you all the information you need to prove your innocence in this regard.
Did You Really Not Plagiarize?
Your course of action depends on whether or not you have actually plagiarized. If you have been accused rightly of plagiarism, then you don’t have a lot of options other than telling the truth. Lying about it will only make the situation worse, and you don’t want that.
If you have plagiarized content and you keep on insisting that you didn’t, your professor will have no option but to take harsh decisions against you. It will jeopardize your entire future, along with your reputation. Therefore, if you have actually plagiarized, go and talk to the concerned person about it.
It will be a hard pill to swallow, but you have to bear the consequences of your actions. You can apologize. Some institutions may want a written apology. You can request them for some extra time and do the assignment from scratch.
This is the best way out of the situation if you have really plagiarized your work. However, what do you do if you didn’t plagiarize the work but your professor is accusing you of plagiarism?
How Do Professors Check for Plagiarism?
We all understand the consequences of plagiarism for a student. But do you know how professors check an assignment for plagiarism?
Professors take help from online plagiarism checking tools that help them identify plagiarism. Some commonly used plagiarism checking tools include Turnitin, Copyscape, Grammarly, etc. Professors run assignments through these tools and get a plagiarism report that highlights plagiarism.
These tools give a percentage of the plagiarized work and highlight it. They also provide a list of sources that the work has been copied from.
Simply put, tricking a smart plagiarism checking tool is not easy. While there may be some grey areas, the algorithms of these tools are constantly updated and upgraded. Therefore, if you think you will trick a professor by using black hat techniques, think again.
Plagiarism checkers are quite accurate. Therefore, proving your innocence can be tricky if the results of these plagiarism checkers show plagiarized work.
When Do Professors Suspect Plagiarism?
Professors suspect plagiarism based on the following two things:
1. Language and Style of Writing
If the writing style and language used in the paper is not what a student usually uses, then they suspect that you have copied someone else. This is a common cause of suspected plagiarism, especially for foreign students with English as their second language.
Professors spot these discrepancies if the paper seems too polished or contains a lot of jargon and complex phrases.
2. Using Tools That Are Beyond Your Scope of Understanding
If a student has used resources and models beyond their scope of understanding, then professors suspect plagiarism. Simply put, if a college level student is making use of models that only Ph.D. level students understand, then it is right for professors to suspect that the student plagiarized their work.
How to Prove You Didn’t Plagiarize?
Now the big question is, how does one prove that they didn’t plagiarize?
Have you been accused of plagiarism when you didn’t do it? This doesn’t mean that your future is ruined and that you don’t have any chance of proving your innocence. If you are a diligent student with a good reputation and the plagiarism was accidental, then your chances of justifying your innocence increases.
However, there are some important steps to follow when you are accused of plagiarism and want to prove that you didn’t do it. Here’s what you should do.
1. Be Honest
As mentioned before, one must be honest when it comes to plagiarism accusations as lying will only land you in more problems. If you have been accused of plagiarizing someone else’s work, then the first thing you should do is be honest.
Ask yourself if you really did plagiarize. If you think you did, admit your fault immediately. The situation will only worsen if you continue telling lies.
2. Unintentional Plagiarism
Sometimes, one doesn’t copy someone else’s work intentionally. However, small things like not citing the sources can lead to accusations of plagiarism. If the plagiarism was unintentional in your case, then it is best to have a meeting with your professor and admit your mistake.
Tell them that plagiarism was unintentional and request them to give you a chance to fix your mistakes. Give them your word that it will not happen again. Things can be sorted out easily if the professor believes you that the plagiarism was unintentional.
3. Ask for Oral Defense
When you are accused of plagiarism, this is one of the best ways out of a situation. If you have been accused of plagiarism, ask the professor to allow you to give an immediate oral defense. You can compile a comprehensive oral report on your paper and give the committee or the professor an oral presentation.
This will show your professor that you know what you have written and you didn’t copy it from anyone else.
4. Prepare Evidence
You can also prove your innocence by preparing evidence for the professor to support yourself. Collect and compile all things like the drafts, notes and outlines you made for the assignment. This will help prove that you made efforts to do the paper yourself.
When students provide proof that the plagiarism was unintentional, many professors give students the benefit of the doubt that they did the work themselves.
5. Use Your Track Record in Your Favor
As mentioned previously, proving your innocence in plagiarism cases becomes a little easier if you have a clean track record. If you have never plagiarized before and are a good student, you can use it in your favor in this scenario.
Highlight your skills and knowledge to the professor and reference previous works that you have done. Tell them that you didn’t plagiarize in the past and will not do it ever as it is against your principles.
6. Cite Sources
Many students don’t plagiarize intentionally; they just forget to cite sources in their work. If you have been accused of plagiarism because of the same thing, then you can provide the professor with a list of your sources.
Make a list of all the sources that you took information from to write your paper. This will give the professor an idea that you did your work yourself and didn’t plagiarize.
7. Don’t Give Up
If you didn’t plagiarize but are accused of plagiarism, don’t give up. If you give up, they will think that you were guilty. Do everything it takes to prove that you didn’t cheat. Don’t give up. If your professor isn’t listening to you, find someone who does.
You can always take the matter up with higher authorities if you think you are not given a chance to prove your innocence.
If you have been accused of plagiarism, and you didn’t do it, then employ the above-mentioned strategies to counter the blame. This was all you needed to know about how to prove you didn’t plagiarize and save your grades, your reputation and your future.