Consequences of Online Plagiarism

By Brenda on October 6th, 2011


We have all heard the stories and nightmares of traditional plagiarism in the classroom.  Students who copy Cliff’s Notes verbatim in order to get a paper done the night before it is due.  The instructor catches the student and they receive an F on their paper, or worse yet, are expelled from school.

What about online plagiarism?  Plagiarism is not just copying from someone or something else, but can also include paraphrasing someone else’s ideas without recognizing them or giving them credit for the words you used, or citing sources the wrong way.  It is easy to fall in this trap, especially online.

Online plagiarism can get you into as much trouble as traditional plagiarism.  More and more schools and online professors are cracking down on the problem and presenting strong consequences if caught.

Common Consequences of Online Plagiarism

The most common consequence of online plagiarism is a failing grade.  This may take place on the paper turned in or the grade for a class.  If the offense was severe, the punishment will follow in severity.  It is not unlikely for a student to receive a failing grade for the entire course if they are caught plagiarizing a single paper.  It really depends on the code of ethics and punishment enforced by the school.

Another consequence for online plagiarism is that the offense may go on your scholastic record, or worse.  Plagiarism is not punishable by law or cannot go on a criminal record, but it can scar your academic record.  You may receive a mark on your transcript that can affect your acceptance to graduate school or being hired by an employer.  The offense can affect your future.

Suspension may also occur if you are caught plagiarizing at a traditional or online school.  The academic or ethics board may bring a case against you and require you be suspended for a semester.  In some serious cases, students have been found guilty by the academics board and suspended for one year.

In the most serious of cases, a student may have their degree revoked. This usually happens if the student denies that they plagiarized or did anything wrong.  An investigation may then take place and upon formal findings, the board my revoke the student’s degree because they were found guilty.  At most online schools, the consequence is much greater if guilt is denied.  It is better to tell the truth and fess up to the crime.  Denying the problem will not make it go away, especially if the instructor is bent on seeing it through and making sure you do not get away with the account.

How to Avoid Online Plagiarism

Some online plagiarism may occur out of ignorance.  It pays to be informed so that you do not find yourself in a bind.  In order to avoid plagiarism online, it is best to get into the habit of citing all of your online sources.  If you are in doubt, cite it or discuss the issue with your professor to avoid any problems.


Category: Other and General