The Importance of Avoiding Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct describes practices that provide an unfair academic advantage. Gaining, attempting to acquire, or assisting one gain an unfair academic advantage amounts to academic misconduct.

Plagiarism is one example of academic misconduct and denotes copying someone’s work. Serious plagiarism cases involve the copy-pasting or direct presentation of other people’s work. Individuals liable for this offense do not change or translate original content but rather imitate word by word. Less serious plagiarism cases entail stealing or copying other people’s ideas without acknowledgment. In such circumstances, the culprit does not type word by word or copy-paste original content but rather paraphrases the source without referencing and citing it.

Other forms of academic misconduct include cheating, collusion, and impersonation. Cheating refers to unauthorized information access, especially during examinations. Cheating cases include taking a mobile device in an exam room to retrieve answers to the questions. Some students also sneak small papers containing a summary of course content, gaining an unfair academic advantage. Collusion entails arrangements aimed at offering an unfair academic advantage. It includes sitting arrangements where candidates seat close to each other to allow one to assist the other or both to exchange ideas. Finally, impersonation involves using another party to sit exams, appear in class, or complete assignments on your behalf.

It is important to avoid plagiarism and academic misconduct to prevent:

Grade reduction

Colleges require lecturers to deduct points on individuals found guilty of plagiarism, cheating, or academic dishonesty. Grade reduction negatively impacts the overall score, undermining student’s educational development. 

Assignment failure

Students found guilty of plagiarism or academic misconduct risk failing in assignments and exams. A 20 or 30 points reduction due to plagiarism can cause the grade to drop below the pass mark. For example, a student with a 69% score is susceptible to fail when a plagiarism penalty of 30 points is applied, assuming the pass mark is 40. Students who engage in academic misconduct stand to lose more than they can gain.

Course retake

Certain colleges have a policy mandating all plagiarism and academic misconduct culprits to repeat the entire course. Such institutions do not deduct points but rather require students to start the course afresh to ascertain their real academic capabilities. Furthermore, a student can be forced to retake a class when their grades are reduced to below pass mark following a plagiarism penalty. Retaking a course is both expensive and time-consuming. Moreover, asking parents to pay a retake after cheating can create problems in a family. 

Suspension and dismissal

Plagiarism and academic misconduct penalties may include suspension and dismissal. Students found guilty of violating school policies on academic integrity face suspensions ranging from weeks to a year. A suspension break is costly and time-consuming. It derails graduation, undermining career and educational plans. Repeated academic malpractices can result in a dismissal whereby a student is disbanded from college and academic activities. Academic dishonesty dismissals are detrimental because it becomes almost impossible to join another institution. Other colleges and universities are likely to deny admission to individuals with a record of academic malpractices.

Prison sentence and monetary penalties

Copyright laws protect original works, including books, journals, and newspaper articles. Copying content or borrowing ideas from copyrighted sources without acknowledgment is at times considered a criminal offense and can result in a prison sentence. A court may also require the accused person to pay monetary damages. Avoiding plagiarism and academic misconduct helps prevent a prison sentence and monetary fines.

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