Five Most Common Misconceptions Students have About Plagiarism

Apart from failure itself, one thing most students probably fear is being caught for stealing someone’s ideas. It seems to bring a sticky feeling of shame to some students, and that’s why they check for plagiarism online before submitting their essays. It is not unusual to find college students looking for a decent free plagiarism checker online since most cannot afford the often exorbitant subscription fees charged by the developers of the premium tools. Sadly, many of these free plagiarism checker tools are not 100% accurate in their search results. Hence, their users get a free but often inaccurate report of the originality of their text. 

But even though plagiarism is a very serious academic crime, it is even more devastating to be misinformed or confused about the subject. To avoid this, get to know some common misconceptions students have about plagiarism below!

Only Students Plagiarize

This is simply untrue. Anybody involved in any form of writing tasks can unconsciously copy from someone else’s work. The difference is that some people, because of their expertise, know how to get away with plagiarism. Consider a professional writer who has spent more than ten years of writing. He or she is likely to have evolved means of evading even the best plagiarism checker. In essence, it is not that the individual hasn’t copied anything; it is just that they have learned how to get away with plagiarism.

It is not Possible to Plagiarize Yourself

Some students feel that because they were the author of a previously published essay, paper, or journal, they can just pick information from it without referencing or giving a proper citation. Their argument is that self-plagiarism isn’t possible. Well, if the material is meant for you alone, you are safe. However, if you are submitting such material for assessment or publication, the case changes. You would be queried for not properly referencing your work even though you were the original author of the source. In short, if you are wondering, “Is it possible to plagiarize yourself?” – the answer is a big YES.

Referencing/Citation is Difficult

What happens when you plagiarize is you are claiming that someone’s intellectual property is yours, when in fact it isn’t. Roughly speaking, you are stealing another person’s idea or concept.

So, to absolve yourself of any charges, you are expected to give proper credit to the author or discoverer of the claim you are using in your work. And the best way to achieve this is through proper citation. There are different forms of referencing or giving citations. These include APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, etc. The various rules applicable to each style is one thing that is known to scare many students.

But here is the good news. This does not have to give you a headache. Just as there are plagiarism checkers online, there are free tools for proper citation. As such, you can get around your citation needs using the best tools out there.

Only Non-English Speakers Plagiarize

Again, plagiarism isn’t solely associated with a particular language. It is a universal concern. Admittedly, people whose first language is not English may be more tempted to copy. However, native speakers can fall for this trap as well. In fact, anyone who is not ready to put some extra effort will find themselves using written works of others a lot.

Similarly, even if you are a native speaker, if you are under pressure to complete a writing task or publish a work, you might find yourself dubbing directly from other people’s work without giving proper credence to the author. Is plagiarism illegal? Definitely! If you get caught, you should be prepared to pay some fines or get imprisoned. The law does not identify a native from a non-native in this regard.

All Plagiarisms are the Same

To show that this view is wrong, you only need to run a written text through a good checker. When you do this check, the result usually displays in percentage. The uniqueness rate will fall between 0 and 100%. In most cases, when the percentage of plagiarism is less than 20%, most professors can overlook it or punish by awarding a poor grade.

However, where it is discovered that you have copied everything from another source online, you can expect a more severe punishment such as rustication, or a sentence in the case of a published paper. The point is that plagiarism occurs at different levels or percentages.

This piece is not about how to get away with plagiarism. Rather, we have only tried to give an informed opinion on some of the misconceptions surrounding it. By now, you should have known what happens when you plagiarize and guide yourself against this academic misconduct.