Penalties for plagiarism

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Plagiarism: Penalties For Plagiarism In US And UK Academic Institutions


Plagiarism come form a Latin word meaning “kidnap”. Many authors and scholars have given different meanings to this term plagiarism. In its simplest form, plagiarism can be defined as the use of the words, language and ideas from someone else and use them as one's original work. Plagiarism is the worst form of academic fraud a student can be involved in, and therefore all students are advised to avoid this unbecoming vise at all costs. Because plagiarism is caused by unfamiliarity with an academic culture, students are advised to familiarize themselves with the topics they are supposed to write about in advance. Failure to do this, one should be prepared to face the dire consequences which come with plagiarized work.

Plagiarism is bad because it cultivates a culture of dishonesty within us, consider a situation where assignments are given to aid students in learning. By committing plagiarism a student in this class will end up hurting himself or herself because he or she has not practiced the learning skills needed for future studies or work. Assignments are also given to evaluate ourselves on how well one understands his or her course material. By committing plagiarism, one ends up hurting other members of that class who did the assignments by them selves.

It should be understood that getting a mark undeservingly is being dishonest to one's self and other classmates.  Moreover, when a person is granted a certificate, diploma or degree, that institution is making a clear statement that one has a certain skill and knowledge,  however if at some instance in your studies you got involved in plagiarism, the less this is true. If an employer comes to learn of this, your degree becomes incompetent. Unfortunately, this hurts every employee in that organization since the values of their degrees lowers. Posner asserts that copying someone else's work is accepting defeat on that quality, at least to oneself.

Plagiarism is harmful to the reputation of the person who takes part plagiarism, any academic institutions and publishers are not spared this brunt either. By allowing or participating in this vice a person becomes unprofessional which leads to the denting of ones reputation. Plagiarism may lead to loss of jobs and one being kicked out of the league of professionals. It is important to note that plagiarism is an infringement into copyright laws; this exposes academic institutions and publishers to possible lawsuits. Those are lucky to get away with plagiarism at an early stage might be tempted to practice it at an advanced stage, which may have severe repercussions.

The recent rapid growth of the internet has sky rocketed plagiarism to greater heights, it is estimated that over 30% of all students in the US and the UK plagiarize at least one assignment they complete. This has led to the introduction of strict measure by academic institutions to curb this unbecoming vice. With the implementation of anti-plagiarism policies, academic institutions have tried to fight this problem that has been gnawing our norms for a long time.  A common policy of fighting this vice has been the signing of statements by students at various points of their course work to verify the originality of their works. By going against these agreements, a student is expected to accept any punishment that might be administered to him/her without any complains.

Many academic institutions have been forced to use plagiarism detection software on any submitted assignment. This is done so that the assignments can be vetted for possible plagiarism. The most sought after organization for such kind of software is Turnitin Company which also offers guidelines on how to avoid plagiarism. Tutors have been given the mandate of vetting student's assignments at all instants to curb plagiarism. Another common policy employed by many institutions is to notify the author whose works have been plagiarized. In this case, the culprit will most likely face the full force of the law. This policy has been a success in many institutions because many people fear being brought to the corridors of justice for prosecution.

As stated earlier, plagiarism has its dire consequences; first off academic sanctions can be imposed on a person if he/she is suspected of plagiarism. Academic sanctions include; a reduction in the grade of the assignment, a reduction in the grade of the module, a fail grade for the assignment and a fail grade for the module. It should be noted that one or more sanctions may be given to an individual. Heads of departments and subject lecturers have the mandate of imposing these sanctions with the plagiarist's agreement.

Administrative sanctions may be imposed on a student if he/she is suspected of plagiarism. Some of the common administrative sanctions include; suspension, expulsion or multiple sanctions. Suspension is the separation of a student from the other students for a specified period. After this period is over, a student will be allowed back to school. When a plagiarist is expelled, he/she is permanently separated from other students. This student will not be allowed back to that institution ever. If a student feels that they have been treated unfairly, they have a right to appeal to the relevant authority in the first instance. The outcome of this appeal can either be a confirmation of the suspension or the expulsion or a re-instatement. Re-instatement comes with some conditions which must be met before studies may continue. At advanced stages, a plagiarist may be prosecuted and sent to prison. Others may be forced to pay huge fines for working unprofessionally, of all this, ones reputation will be tarnished and nobody will be interested in your works ever.

Heavy penalties imposed on plagiarists are justifiable; it is very unfair to reap where you have not sore. Those found guilty of plagiarism should get the maximum sentence for their crimes. This will serve as a bitter lesson to those who practice or intend to plagiarize  


Posner, R. The Little Book of plagiarism. New York: New York press, 2000.