Writing Safely: Is Plagiarism Illegal?

Essays, research papers, dissertations, and other academic projects are an inevitable part of the life of every student. Before entering college or university, young people already know that they should develop their writing and critical thinking skills as well as hone their ability to locate valuable information from credible sources. The problem is, there are some writing intricacies that might grow into serious unethical issues and that most students either ignore or know nothing about. Taking others’ thoughts without citing them is a good example. But what does it entail in particular, and most importantly, is plagiarism illegal and can you plagiarize your own work? What repercussion could it have?

Plag as a Concept: Everything You Need to Know

Plagiarism means usage of other people’s ideas that you present as your own, whether deliberately or not. You could forget to cite the info from some source, try to pass off someone’s words for yours, or just use complex ideas that most people have heard nothing about without attributing them to any research. In some places, this act might be even considered an actual felony. So, how to prevent it from happening?

More info: How does Turnitin work in 2019?

Ways to Avoid Plag

Plag is a violation of college/uni rules. Since the punishment for it presupposes penalty, students always wonder how to avoid it in their writing. There are three main suggestions students should keep in mind.

  • Always mention an author when using direct quotes. Students could also be required to put page numbers or dates of source creation — it depends on the formatting style. But every time you present someone’s direct words, mention their name. If there are two sentences with quotes in sequence, write an author in each of them.
  • Learn to paraphrase. Plagiarism laws are severe and only 10% of direct quotes could be used, even if you cite the rest correctly. Don’t overuse them — instead, apply thorough paraphrasing. Use synonyms, re-write or mix parts of a quote, change verbs, reduce adjectives, etc. You should still mention the author, though!
  • Evaluate what is and isn’t general knowledge. Sure, you’d be a genius knowing about the most complicated concepts, but when you’re writing, those ideas that the average public isn’t aware of must be cited.

How is Plagiarism a Crime?

Consequences of plag range in severity based on who you are and plagiarism level you’ve allowed in your work. Sure, as a student, you are unlikely to go to jail, but it’s a fraud that might lead to the disciplinary hearing, suspension, and expulsion. You steal ideas from other people, mislead people, and create wrong impression about your proficiency. Even if you simply forgot to cite sources, punishment for this offense is serious, because it’s illegal. One mild case can be forgiven but the record of it will remain, and if it happens again, getting your degree is going to be impossible.

Real-Life Examples of Instances with Plagiarism

Virginia University had a girl participate in the Sea program that entailed studying abroad. Since she didn’t know what constitutes plagiarism, she submitted paper inspired by a documentary without taking time to cite it. The concepts she used were too complex, so she was accused of plag, penalized, and sent back to the US. But is plagiarizing illegal? In some instances, it could be. Harvard students published a book once that was later proven to have plag. Her publisher thought about going to court, and while the author wasn’t sued, she was fired, with her already written sequel being rejected.

Services That Help Catch Plagiarism

Luckily, you can check your papers via anti-plag programs before submitting them. AResearchGuide offers check paper for plagiarism that detects all copied parts of the text and presents them in a report that could be used for editing, showing how original your essay is in percentage, so you will not be blamed for illegal issues. There are no time limits, so check as many papers as needed. Upload files or copy-paste your text directly in a checking box. This will help avoid legal consequences and submit a clean, unique paper. If you’re wondering, “Is plagiarism against the law?”, then the answer is yes. Good news is, avoiding it isn’t a problem with modern technologies and software. Use anti-plagiarism checker and don’t worry about getting into trouble.