Any one perusing PhD very well knows that PhD Thesis is the most important part of a doctoral research program. The main point of a thesis is to explain the conclusion that has been made as a result of the research project. Here is an article to help you understand plagiarism and why is it important to avoid plagiarism in Academic Writing
Why Is It Important to Avoid Plagiarism in Academic Writing?
Plagiarism is the vile act of stealing another author’s legitimate work without their knowledge or permission and subsequently claiming it is yours. This is an act of lying, and deceit, as such it is considered fraud.
Committing fraud is grave crime but unfortunately, many students in universities around the world are not aware of this. Various higher education commissions and institutions have policies related to plagiarism that detail what counts as plagiarism and its repercussions.
However, most students are unaware of such policies, and it’s not until they get burned that they realize plagiarism is wrong. To help spread awareness of plagiarism, why it should be avoided, and how to detect it, we have listed the most important reasons in this article.
What is Academic Integrity?
Academic refers to any person who is associated with an academic body such as a university, college, or any other institute that provides higher education. This person can be a student or a teacher.
An academic is expected to follow the rules of academic integrity at all times. Academic integrity is a code of all academics must adhere to. It consists of the following factors:
Not adhering to this set of rules can have serious repercussions for an academic. If you think about it, plagiarism violates all of these precepts.
- It is dishonest due to lying.
- It betrays trust due to stealing.
- It is unfair to the author whose work is stolen.
- It is an act of disrespect against the author.
- It aims to avoid responsibility by not putting in the work.
As such, plagiarism is dealt with harshly under most circumstances. Now, let’s see how academic bodies punish plagiarists according to HEC rules. After learning about these consequences, academics will realize why it is important to avoid and check for plagiarism in their work.
Consequences of Committing Plagiarism in Academia
These consequences can range from mild to really harsh depending on the degree of plagiarism and whether it was the first offense or a repeated offense. The penalties for teachers and researchers are different from those for students. Let’s check them all out.
Penalties for Teachers and Researchers
1. Penalties for Plagiarizing a Few Passages.
If only a few passages are plagiarized (typically no larger than 10-15 sentences) then the penalties allowed to be levied are:
- Freezing of research grants
- Halting promotions and increments
- A temporary ban on joining any sponsorships.
These punishments may be levied at the institute’s discretion. These penalties can have far-reaching consequences for the plagiarist. Just think about it, research grants are the lifeblood of a researcher’s career. If they don’t have enough grants to fund their research, their career as a researcher effectively comes to a halt.
Denial of promotions and increments can result in financial restraints. Researchers and teachers are not the most well-paid profession in Pakistan so any extra source of income is always a blessing. But with plagiarism, the perpetrator chops their own foot and kills a legitimate avenue for earning more money.
The same is true for sponsorships and deals. Sponsorships are important because often research grants are not enough to fully fund the research to completion. Researchers are free to seek out sponsorship opportunities on their own, or through their institute, but plagiarism puts a stop to all of that.
2. Penalties for Plagiarizing Paragraphs and Important Results
If an academic is caught plagiarizing important parts of a publication such as multiple paragraphs and results, then they may be subject to:
- Demotion in rank
- The offense will be published in a newspaper.
A demotion in rank is not just a humiliating affair but it is also financially damaging. A rank in demotion automatically means that the perpetrator’s paycheck will change to reflect the change in rank. Since lower ranks get paid less, the salary will be reduced as well.
A rank demotion is also a big occurrence so you can be sure it will be talked about in the office/institute for quite a while. Everyone will know that a particular teacher was punished for plagiarism, and students as well as colleagues will lose respect for them.
As if that wasn’t enough public notice of the offense is also given. What that means is that news of the plagiarist will be given out on a public platform such as a national newspaper. That will spread the details of the crime to other institutes as well so the perpetrator cannot simply cut and run. Anywhere they go, their bad reputation for committing plagiarism will follow them.
3. Penalties for Major Plagiarism
If an academic is caught plagiarizing a lot of work from other sources, then they may be subject to:
- Expulsion/Fired from service.
- Blacklisted from joining any academic body.
- Public notice of the blacklisting will be given out as well.
Expulsion from an academic body is the height of shame and dishonor for an academic. A professor fired for committing plagiarism can never hope to work in the academic field again. That’s because of the blacklisting that is usually paired with expulsion. Blacklisting refers to barring someone from professionally doing an activity or joining an organization.
In the case of an academic being expelled for plagiarism, they are blacklisted from working and teaching in an academic institute again. The notice of the blacklisting is given publicly, this means that all government institutes can no longer hire the person against whom the blacklist notice was given.
You are already aware of the hit to the reputation that occurs due to such public notice so we won’t go into detail here. The blacklist also extends to academic journals and publishing bodies. A known plagiarist can never hope to get their research published in a Pakistani scientific journal, so that closes all avenues for independent research as well.
In essence, committing major plagiarism is just a very quick and effective way of doing career suicide. It just closes off all ways to legitimately conduct and publish research. And there is no chance for anyone at all to bounce back from such a huge setback. That’s why the best way is to avoid committing plagiarism entirely.
Penalties for Students
Students are dealt with a little less harshly because they are usually not aware of plagiarism properly. Teaching them about plagiarism is the responsibility of their professors. Most students are aware of plagiarism by the end of their first semester. That’s why for deliberate plagiarism, the penalties are still severe.
1. Fines and Warnings
For first-time offenders as well as minor plagiarism, a fine and warning are the only punishments.
The fine is usually monetary and the amount is decided by the institute. Usually, it is a few thousand rupees which is a big amount for a normal student. Monetary loss can jolt students enough that they actively avoid plagiarism later. A warning on top of the fine can really drive home the point of not indulging in plagiarism.
So, for first-time offenders or accidental plagiarists, the matter ends here, and the student gets to walk away with their dignity intact.
2. Awarded Failing Grades, or Sent to a Lower Class
Students who plagiarize on assignments or papers are given a failing grade and persistent plagiarism is penalized by demoting the student to a lower class.
In Pakistan, assignments along with quizzes carry a percentage of the total marks for a subject. So, if a student fails enough assignments, they can jeopardize their subject and fail in it entirely. If the subject is a prerequisite for an advanced subject, then that means that the student can’t take that either.
This sets them back an entire year for which they have to pay tuition fees. That is a huge financial burden on the student as they cannot afford such high fees. And any filial child will also feel terrible for imposing such a burden on their parents.
That’s why avoiding plagiarism in assignments is so important.
3. Expulsion and Blacklisting
Students who do not mend their ways and plagiarize too much work are expelled from their institutes and barred from entering other institutions. Public notice of the blacklisting is also given out at the university’s discretion.
Typically, students are given the benefit of the doubt and not punished severely for committing plagiarism. Even if they are found to be committing plagiarism deliberately, the institute tries to get them to mend their ways first. However, unapologetic plagiarists who don’t see the error of their ways are dealt with harshly.
Expulsion from an institute is bad enough, but at least the student can still transfer their credit hours to another institute and continue their degree. But when they get blacklisted publicly, then this avenue closes down as well. This marks the end of the student’s academic career and they cannot pursue an education in Pakistan anymore. Their only recourse is to go abroad or do manual unskilled labor.
4. Withdrawal of Awarded Degrees
If a student had earned a degree using plagiarized work, and this fact came to light later, then the institute is within its rights to recall the degree. This can happen even years after the degree is awarded.
This is a matter of great shame and has far-reaching consequences. For example, if a student got promoted to a job because they had a specific degree, then that promotion will be redacted. This will also redact all the benefits that the degree had provided.
Usually, degree withdrawals are covered publicly which can destroy the reputation of the plagiarists. A poor reputation can hamper the career of the student. Students might not be paid well, or be fired from their job. So, committing plagiarism can come back to bite you even years later.
5. Barred from Scholarships and Programs
Plagiarists may be barred from receiving scholarships and may not take part in any programs such as student exchange programs and tours.
Scholarship programs are one of the best ways to receive a good education and reduce some of the financial burdens on a student. However, scholarships are only for students who uphold academic integrity.
Plagiarists are not accepted by scholarship programs as they only want to help zealous students who have a flair for education and become great people in life. Plagiarists are anything but.
Scholarship programs usually require students to submit an essay. If such essays have plagiarism, the applicant is rejected without a second thought. An institute may offer scholarships to its own students as well, in such a case they can automatically reject all previous offenders.
How to Avoid Plagiarism in Academic Writing
There are some easy ways to avoid plagiarism that can help both students and researchers. However, it requires that they uphold academic integrity and put in the proper work that is required. Without upholding academic integrity, it is not possible to avoid plagiarism.
Now that is clear, here are the given steps.
1. Create Research Notes
Researching extensively is the most important aspect of academic writing. However, research alone is useless if they cannot keep track of it. So, creating research notes is necessary as that allows for accurate citations during the writing process.
2. Citing Your Sources
Citing sources allows academics to give credit to the original author. One part of plagiarism consists of claiming that something is done by you even when it wasn’t. However, with citations the writer is expressly telling the readers that this particular part is written by someone else. Thus, it is not considered plagiarism.
3. Check all Write-ups for Plagiarism
Even if you take all appropriate measures, accidental plagiarism can occur. So, all academic writers should check their work with a reliable plagiarism detector. Such tools can find most types of plagiarism and even provide their proper sources. So academic writers can cite those sources and avoid plagiarism with the help of plagiarism detectors.
Avoiding plagiarism in academic writing is necessary because plagiarism carries too much risk. Career suicide as well as public shaming are common outcomes of committing plagiarism. The damage to your reputation is almost irrecoverable and can have long-lasting problems. So, it is critical that plagiarism is avoided using all means possible, including tools.