What To Do When You Get Caught Plagiarizing

What To Do When You Get Caught Plagiarizing

With the numerous plagiarism detection tools on the market, you’d think that students would refrain from the action. However, despite the popularity of these tools, plagiarism remains an issue in our schools.

To deter students from the action, almost every school has implemented policies governing plagiarism and punishment which could range from a simple warning to expulsion from the school.

But what can you do when you’re caught plagiarizing? I’ll be digging into my 10+ years of experience in the teaching field to provide some steps that you can take to avoid dire consequences.

Additionally, I’ll also be providing some tips to help you avoid plagiarism entirely.

What Is Plagiarism And Why It’s Wrong

Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as your own. It is considered a form of intellectual theft that has resulted in educational institutions and professional bodies creating policies against the action.

Essentially, people who plagiarize take full credit for someone else’s hard work. A typical example is this article getting copied by someone else without citing me as the original author.

In cases where the content has been copyrighted, the culprit can be sued in federal court for copyright violation.

And while the original content owner who hasn’t copyrighted their content may not be able to take legal actions against plagiarism, it can damage the reputation of the culprit and the overall credibility and reputation of the educational institution.

Most educational institutions consider the action wrong as it:

  • Is considered an intellectual property theft
  • Violates/Undermines academic integrity and honesty
  • Gives cheaters an unfair advantage
  • Infringes on the original author’s rights to their work and ideas
  • Misrepresents students’ ability
  • Can damage your academic and professional credibility
  • Undermines the value of education by promoting dishonesty and laziness

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Consequences For Plagiarism

Academic integrity and honesty are extremely important to educational institutions. To deter students from plagiarism and other forms of cheating activities, they implement strict guidelines and policies against the action.

After all, the consequences of plagiarism don’t just impact the individual but the credibility and reputation of the school as well. Consequences for students and the school could include:

Poor Grade

On the lower side of the punishment spectrum for plagiarism, the teacher may simply grade you down. In such cases, they may simply give a warning and not report this to the academic institution.

This may also depend on the severity of the offense. But depending on the relevance of the assignment or test, it could significantly impact your overall grade for the class.

Failing Course

Depending on the severity of the offense the professor may decide to report the issue to the school for further action. In extreme cases, the university may decide to fail the student in the entire class.

The student would be required to retake the class which can lead to an extended graduation date. Additionally, this information may end up on your permanent record which could impact your academic prospects in the future.

Revoked Qualification

Simply committing the act does not mean you’ll get away with it even after graduation.

Should some form of investigation into possible plagiarism accusations be initiated and concluded, the university review board may decide to revoke your degree. This would become a big blow to your reputation and career prospects.

Public Shaming

In this age of social media, news travels almost as fast as they happen. We all know some other students may be similarly guilty, but they would gladly spread your shame, simply because they didn’t get caught. You would also lose trust among your peers and academics.

Additional Task

Your professor or the committee may assign additional tasks to make up for your offense. Students may be asked to retake a test with an invigilator present to ensure that they do not cheat.

Unfortunately, these tests may end up being harder than the original if the professor is feeling vindictive.


Scholarship positions are very competitive and the last schools and other academic bodies want to do is to spend their money on a cheater.

Schools and other scholarship bodies need to preserve their reputation. So, to avoid any negative consequences and publicity, they may simply revoke your scholarship/financial aid.


In the case of more severe offenses, the educational institution may decide to expel you from the school. Unfortunately, this also decreases your chances of getting a re-admission into other universities.

This bad record would follow you and make things difficult for you at every stage in your academic journey.


The author may sue you for copyright infringement if the content is copyrighted. You would need to pay monetary compensation for the offense.

University Reputation

In this age of social media, information about the school allowing students to plagiarize would easily travel. Companies looking to hire would refrain from hiring someone from the school out of concern for the quality of education.

After all, who wants to hire a doctor from a school known for cheating, to perform surgery on their patients? The risks outweigh the returns in such cases. This would result in students refusing to attend such a school with a bad reputation.

What To Do When You Get Caught Plagiarizing

So, you’ve been caught plagiarizing and don’t know what to do. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to decrease the chances of any dire consequences.

Acknowledge Your Mistake

Professors have seen it all before and may have developed an intolerance for the action. Simply arguing with them over whose fault it is, won’t score any points in your favor.

You need to be proactive by taking responsibility and showing them that you regret your actions. Let them know that you understand the consequences of such actions (for yourself and the school) and would avoid repeating such actions.

In most cases, the professor may simply grade you down or give you another assignment or test to make up for the mistake.

Professors were once students and understand the pressures students go through. But keep in mind that most professors dislike students who try to game the system.

Don’t put yourself in a position where they may decide to make an example of you to serve as a deterrent to other students. Arguing with them won’t do you any favors.

Understand The Consequences

Simply saying you won’t do it again may not be enough. Let them know that you understand the consequences of the actions and how they could impact your academics and future career prospects.

Explain Your Reasons If Necessary

This shouldn’t serve as justification for the action. Maybe you had to retake the course due to some reason and submitted a previously submitted assignment.

This still constitutes plagiarism but most professors would leave you with a warning and a lower grade in such cases.

Keep in mind that most premium plagiarism checkers would show them exactly where and which content you copied from.

So, professors would know if the file had previously been submitted under your name. I’ve had to give out a few warnings to students for this action. They got away with redoing the assignment within 24 hours.

In other cases, you can kindly request for the plagiarism report which the professor would gladly forward to you.

If you submitted the same assignment as another student, you can explain to the professor that you both worked on the assignment together.

It would not excuse submitting the same work but it would most likely decrease the severity of any consequences.

Refrain from showing any negative emotion as that would only lead to the professor penalizing or reporting you to the institution.

Don’t Assume A Redo

While it’s true that the professor can give you another chance to redo the assignment or test, they aren’t mandated to.

So simply assuming or suggesting that they allow you to redo the assignment should not be considered a privilege.

Professors have a lot of work to do and the last thing they want is extra work at no fault of theirs. You can’t also give them extra pay for the effort as that would be considered bribery which is completely illegal.

That said, most professors may offer the option for you to redo the assignment, but they would most likely take off some points as punishment.

Don’t Take It As Personal Attack

Professors may seem like they have all the power in our universities. But the truth remains that professors need to work within the regulations of the school.

Depending on the severity of the action, they may have already reported the issue to the school. You shouldn’t hold this against them as they would be risking their jobs if they go against the policies of the school.

Show Commitment To Doing Right

As a show of your commitment to making things right again, you can take an online course regarding plagiarism and its consequences.

Some of these courses offer certificates on completion. Show the professor and the institution your commitment by earning a certificate on plagiarism.

No need to worry about the duration of these courses as they’re usually just a couple of hours. Once done, the certification test may take a few minutes to complete.

Tips For Preventing Plagiarism

While the points above would decrease the chances of any severe consequence, it’s best to avoid plagiarism altogether.

Use Plagiarism Checkers

There’s a wide range of plagiarism checkers on the market, both free and premium. You can use these tools to check your content to identify any plagiarized content.

Keep in mind that the result presented by the tools may vary as some premium plagiarism checkers also compare submissions with their in-house databases in addition to Google Index, ProQuest, and other online sources.


If you’re going to use existing information, always make sure that you paraphrase the content and properly cite your sources before submission.

Various paraphrasing tools on the market can help you get this done quickly. That said, you should keep in mind that these tools aren’t perfect. So, it’s advisable to go over any paraphrased content to identify and correct any issues.

Correctly Cite Sources

Always cite your sources when using third-party information. Refusing to cite your sources gives the impression that the facts, ideas, and language presented in your writing belong to you.

To avoid any issues from this, it’s always advisable to ensure that credit is given to the original author and their sources. Most universities will teach you how to appropriately cite your sources, but this may differ depending on the teacher.

So, you should ensure that you determine the appropriate citation style (APA, MLA, and more) recommended by your instructor to avoid any accusations of plagiarism.

Learn Time Management

You’re paying for your education so it’s advisable to receive the full benefit while at the same time avoiding anything that can ruin it.

No matter how busy your schedule may be, you should learn to make enough time to complete your assignments and other academic deliverables.

You’re more likely to get tempted to copy from another source when you don’t have enough time to complete your assignment. Learn to balance your various activities and academic work.

Akshay Vikhe

I am an aspiring Data Scientist with a huge interest in technology. I like to review courses that are genuine and add real value to student’s careers. Read my story

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