What you need to know about plagiarism

Instead of writing a research paper, college students may be tempted to purchase one online. However, cheating and plagiarism hurts everyone. And don’t forget that professors can check for plagiarism with online plagiarism check services.

Have you or are you considering plagiarism? (Credit: Colin Purrington)

Have you or are you considering plagiarism? (Credit: Colin Purrington)

Punishment can be severe when students are caught purchasing a term paper.

Plagiarism websites that sell papers

Depending on how much money you’re willing to spend, there are websites for every customer. Free: Some websites offer free term papers, but remember the saying: “You get what you pay for.” Buy a pre-written paper: You can buy a pre-written term paper right off the shelf with varying prices and selections of topics. The going rate is about $7-$10 per page. Custom written papers: Other sites will have a paper written for you (in an astonishingly short period of time). These run about $20-40 per page.

Quality is nearly nonexistent

Writing in “Adventures in Cheating,” posted on Slate.com December 11, 2001, Seth Stevenson ordered from a website a term paper on the Watergate scandal and reported on its quality: “This paper had no thesis, no argument, random capitalization, and bizarre spell-checking errors—including ‘taking the whiteness stand’ (witness) and ‘the registration of Nixon’ (resignation).”

Other problems with free or purchased term papers:

  • Extremely badly written with atrocious grammar and spelling
  • No consistent formatting
  • Lacking any thesis or argument
  • No command of the material with completely erroneous claims or statements
  • Badly paraphrased terminology
  • Outdated material, which is conspicuous especially in fields that evolve quickly (sciences, computer science)
  • Sometimes barely in English

If you submit a paper like this, your teacher will think so little of you that he/she might suggest you take the course over again, or at the worst, rethink whether college is even the place for you.

Harmful effects of plagiarism

Writing in “Further Message to My Students: Why Plagiarism Makes Me So Angry,” in Huffington Post, June 10, 2015, University of Houston professor Keith M. Parsons explains that plagiarism and cheating shows your contempt for fellow students who work hard for their grades, insults the intelligence of the professor by passing off the work of an expert or knowledgeable person as their own, and “worst of all, those who plagiarize debase the whole academic process. The pursuit of knowledge is one of the highest and purest of human goods. … Aristotle was right: Learning is part of the basic purpose of human life.”

Teachers use plagiarism detection services

Just as cheaters can surf the web for quick fixes to term paper writing, so can professors find numerous programs and services online to sniff out plagiarism and bought papers. “Colleges can sign up for plagiarism-detector Web sites like Turnitin.com, which allows professors to submit papers for an originality check,” noted Suzy Hansen in “Dear Plagiarists: You Get What You Pay For,” posted in New York Times August 22, 2004. Such services include CopyLeaks, Plagiarisma, and PaperRater.

Punishment for plagiarizing

Punishment for plagiarizing varies among schools but common consequences are:

  • Redoing the paper (sometimes, if it’s your first offense)
  • A failing grade for the paper (if it counts as most of your grade, you’ll likely fail the class)
  • Failing the course
  • Being asked to leave your major
  • Being unofficially blacklisted among teachers (who do talk to one another) that you’re a cheater
  • Probation long enough to prove you are willing to actually do your schoolwork
  • A permanent mark on your college records
  • Expulsion

Have you purchased a term paper? Did you feel guilty?

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