Consequences Of Plagiarism

In short, there are many consequences of plagiarism and all are severe with the potential to have a sustained negative affect on the academic and career future of the student who has been found guilty of committing it. What is often overlooked is that the consequences of plagiarism extend far beyond the individual student who has been caught cheating in their essay and/or report submission. This section will outline that as well as the student, the consequences of plagiarism can also be felt by other groups including; other students, academic institutions and the UK economy. In brief, students can be affected as their degree can be valued by the tag of cheating, the same is the case with the brand of the academic institution. In reference to the UK economy, the key consequence of plagiarism is that it invariably leads to a skills shortage in private sector organisations which recruit university graduates who have not gained the critical thinking skills needed to succeed in the modern economy. There are also legal issues for the student to consider, especially in regard to copyright and copyright infringement if students plagiarise content of academic authors. Typically these cases are small scale and centred on financial penalty and are therefore held in civil court.

If you as a student are unsure of the consequences of plagiarism or rather doubt them, you should consider the following:

  • Plagiarism can get you expelled from your course, college and/or university.
  • Plagiarism can result in your work being destroyed.
  • Plagiarism can result in legal action, fines and penalties etc.

On the whole, plagiarism is on the rise in institutions such as schools, colleges and universities in the contemporary world of academia. The problem is that students today are faced not only with increasing pressure and a consequential temptation to plagiarise, but also with the potential to plagiarise being ever more available via the internet – for these reasons, plagiarism is on the increase. In relation to pressures, students are aware that obtaining a degree classification from a university is no longer a guarantee of entering a highly paid career post study because of the vast numbers of individuals who have the capacity to obtain this classification. Therefore, they recognise that attaining the highest marks possible is perhaps the only way in which they can secure the success of their future career path. This is where the temptation to plagiarise becomes significantly more pronounced. Equally, plagiarism is now much easier for modern students to practice given the ease with which they can access subject relevant information over the internet. The internet has also increased the speed with which students can formulate an answer to an essay or report question which is again tempting due to the often-poor work/life balance students are faced with.

However it would be unwise to assume that just because the temptation has grown, and the frequency of plagiarism has increased that the penalties have been arbitrarily reduced. This is not the case, in fact if you as a student are found guilty of plagiarising, you may be removed from your academic institution and be permanently banned from enrolling in academic institutions in the future. In the last 3-year period, over 50,000 students in the UK alone have been caught plagiarising. Plagiarism is a very severe offence not only in an academic context but also in a work-related context because prospective employers are unlikely to recruit a candidate who has a proven track record of cheating, laziness and dishonesty. This is the group of attributes that are associated with a student who deliberately plagiarises. The problem here is that accidental plagiarism often carries with it the same adverse effects as deliberate plagiarism because employers inevitably do not gain insight into the case by case circumstances.

The consequences of being caught plagiarising are high in severity as a damaged academic record will follow a student wherever they go whether it is gaining access to higher education i.e. MSc or PHD or entering gainful employment post study. Indeed, if a student is found guilty of plagiarising they will find it very difficult to gain access to another college or university placement in the future. This is because the student has proven that they are dishonest and unworthy of a place, preventing more honest students with a stronger academic record from enrolling in the course. It may seem as though these points are somewhat overstating the severity of being caught but it is worth pointing out that one moment of foolishness (plagiarism) can end up sacrificing your entire academic career. Additionally, with university placements becoming ever more scarce it is important to ensure that you as a student give yourself the best possible chance of entry and being caught plagiarising would significantly undermine your entry bid in this regard.

In the case of longer pieces such as a dissertation or thesis (i.e. often in advance of 10,000 words), plagiarism can result in the entirety of the students work being destroyed. In fact, in the case of pieces such as this, the effects of plagiarism become increasingly magnified because works of this type are expected to be of publication standard. This therefore means that there is no place for plagiarism in any chapter of the work thus resulting in destruction of the work in entirety. In any high-level research, there is no place for plagiarism as it detracts hugely from the publication standard of the whole piece. The key reason why the practice of plagiarism detracts from the academic standard of the whole piece is because it immediately demonstrates that the student has not read widely on the subject matter. This suggests that they have a poor work ethic which will have negative permutations for both their academic and work careers.

Consequences for the College Due to Student Plagiarism

A further important point within the discussion of plagiarism which is often overlooked is that it can have considerably adverse effects on the school, college or university itself. This is because if students plagiarise, it reflects very poorly on the value of their degree. Thus, the academic reputation of the college or university is put into jeopardy. This has the further knock on effect of damaging the universities brand on the global market which could prevent international students from enrolling. Therefore, in this section we have found that plagiarism can have a variety of damaging consequences to the student as an individual and to the college or university as an academic institution. In this regard, it is important also to note that plagiarism can affect a student’s peers also studying at the same institution. This is because it has the capacity to devalue each of their degrees which they have worked so assiduously to attain. From all angles then, plagiarism is something which must be avoided at all costs and at every opportunity. It is also important for students to recognise that the aftermath of engaging in plagiarism affects a huge range of people. This should therefore encourage students to be more hyperaware of the need to avoid plagiarism when composing an academic essay or report.

Consequences for the Economy

Although hard to believe, the act of an individual student plagiarising can even have a significantly adverse effect on the UK economy. This is because it devalues the degree held by students and therefore results in graduates not having the requisite skill sets needed to add value to the economy i.e. commercial awareness, problem solving and the capacity to think critically. Plagiarism can also negatively impact the value of the UK economy because private sector organisations may suffer from a skills shortage due to the limited range of attributes held by graduates who have plagiarised to attain their degree. It is worth pointing out that in this regard, students are really cheating themselves as they are unlikely to remain working for their dream company for very long if they do have the skills necessary to succeed.

Legal Consequences

There are also legal consequences for students to consider if they are caught or found guilty of plagiarising the content of another author. This is because the student who plagiarises may possibly be in breach of copyright laws, specifically copyright infringement with regards to as student submitting data which is not their own. An author has the legal right to sue a plagiarist in court. In the worst case, plagiarism can become a criminal offence and is legally enforceable, however this is more relevant in the journalism and publishing/media industry. With respect to copyright laws in particular, students must take great care in avoiding plagiarising the work of other authors in the field as if they are made aware of it they can choose to sue them in civil court.