What Are the Consequences of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the copying, paraphrasing, or spinning of someone else’s work without providing them with appropriate credit. Plagiarism is taken seriously by schools around the globe, but also by employers and the legal system. In certain instances, a person can be expelled from a university, fired from their job, or fined for stealing someone else’s work.

What Happens If You Plagiarize in High School?

The consequences for plagiarism differ between high schools but typically aren’t as severe as the punishments issued by colleges.

Many schools follow a strike policy. The strike policy means that the consequences for plagiarism get more severe each time a teacher catches a student plagiarizing.

Punishments for first strikes are commonly detention and getting no credit or half credit on the plagiarized assignment. Second or third strikes can cause in-school or out-of-school suspension, although some schools give suspension on the first strike. Finally, if a student continues to plagiarize, they could fail the class.

What Happens If You Plagiarize in College?

Plagiarism rules differ between colleges, but they are often taken seriously and could cause severe academic punishments.

If a professor catches you plagiarizing, they will decide if you will receive a lower grade or a zero percent on the assignment. In most schools, the professor determines whether a student will receive an F for the class for plagiarizing. Otherwise, the decision to fail a student for plagiarism goes to the dean.

Students who plagiarize in college may have their professors refer them to a higher office of the university for review. This review can result in a disciplinary hearing held by the school’s office that deals with cheating.

If the case becomes a disciplinary hearing, the student can face harsh punishments, such as academic suspension or expulsion from the college or university. Usually, the first offense of plagiarism won’t cause removal from the school, but a second or third offense might.

What Are Good Rules To Avoid Plagiarism?

Use these five tips to avoid plagiarism:

  1. Take your time: If you have to rush through an assignment at the last moment, there are more chances you’ll make a mistake. Accidental plagiarism is real, and it’s completely avoidable.

  2. ​Understand when you can work with others and when you can’t: Of course, copying directly from someone else’s work is cheating, but so is getting help on assignments when your teacher didn’t say you could.

  3. Take clear notes: When writing an assignment, it can be easy to forget where a source came from, and it’s tempting to not cite it instead of looking for the information you need for the citation. Not properly citing your sources is plagiarism.

  4. Check the rules: If in doubt, ask your professor, search for tips from your school’s website on plagiarism, or provide the citation to stay on the safe side.

  5. Cite all sources: If you’ve got your information from a film, video, or speech, you’ll still need to credit the original author. Just remember that every medium has a particular style of citation you need to follow.

Legal Consequences of Plagiarism

Plagiarism itself is not illegal in the United States, but plagiarism can breach a contract or infringe on copyright, patent, and trademark protections. These types of plagiarism can cause the original author or their estate to bring a lawsuit against you.

People who steal others’ work in violation of the law can face fines between $1,000 and $250,000 and, in some cases, spend up to a year in jail.

For example, singer Olivia Rodrigo had to give up millions of dollars in royalties to Taylor Swift and Hayley Williams after she copied parts of their songs without permission.

Consequences of Plagiarism Professionally

Schools aren’t the only places where plagiarism can lead to serious repercussions. If you choose to plagiarize at your workplace, your superior may demote or fire you for violating the company or organization’s honor and ethics codes.

One instance of this was the 2014 firing of a CNN news editor after being caught plagiarizing in over fifty articles that she wrote for the news site.

Being fired for plagiarism can seriously damage a person’s career because companies do not want to hire someone who could stain their reputation.

What Do Statistics Say About Plagiarism?

According to reports done by The Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics and a survey conducted by Donald McCabe of Rutgers University, the following percentage of students admitted to plagiarism:

  • 58% of high schoolers in both private and public schools admitted to plagiarism.

  • 36% of undergraduates and 24% of graduate students said they paraphrased work found on the internet without giving credit.

  • 38% of undergraduates and 25% of graduate students said they paraphrased work found in written material without giving credit.

  • 14% of undergraduates and 7% of graduate students admitted to fabricating or falsifying a bibliography.

  • 7% of undergraduates and 4% of graduate students said that they copied a source word for word without providing a citation

  • 7% of undergraduates and 3% of graduate students admitted having their work done by someone else.

Do Authors Plagiarize?

The short answer is that some authors do plagiarize, but certainly not all. Although every author uses ideas from other people to some extent, plagiarism is a specific type of copying.

Of course, plagiarism in nonfiction writing is relatively straightforward. People plagiarize when they copy, paraphrase, or ‘spin’ someone else’s work without providing credit, and fiction writers are not immune to plagiarism.

Many authors use the same themes, character types, and plot styles. These similarities are how we get genres, such as romanticism or mystery. But, close copying of story elements like characters and scenes can be considered plagiarism.

One famous example of a plagiarism accusation in fiction concerned J. K. Rowling. The estate of late author Adrian Jacob accused Rowling of copying large parts of Jacob’s book “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard” and using them in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Although the lawsuit didn’t result in a fine, it is still an example of the dangers authors face if someone accuses them of plagiarism.

Consequences for the Economy and Society

There are a multitude of reasons why plagiarism is wrong. Plagiarism can even affect the economy and society as a whole. People who plagiarize to get their degrees or plagiarize at their workplace devalue themselves and the companies they work for and create less informative content.

Plagiarism can affect the economy because if many people in a particular country or area cheat, it can devalue the degrees of everyone who has a degree from that place.

When people plagiarize in school, they aren’t getting the education and skills their degree says they have obtained. Therefore, the value of their degree diminishes. Also, if a country or area has a cheating problem that the schools don’t address, their reputation will decrease. If the international market doesn’t want to hire people from a specific place, then the economy in that area can suffer from it.

Society is affected by plagiarism because people who cheat in school do not enter the workplace with the skills and education they are supposed to have. For instance, if a doctor has plagiarized on their essays to pass school, they will not be as skilled in their profession as they should be.

Furthermore, the more plagiarism that exists, the less original content there is for others to consume and use for educational and inspirational purposes. If artists continually steal each other’s work, there will be no new ideas, and art will never progress. The same goes for all mediums, such as fiction writing, research, speech writing, music, and others.