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Let’s admit it, we have all been there at some point or the other. You are faced with a time crunch, have too much reading to catch up on and not enough time to do it in, and somewhere along the way you end up unintentionally plagiarizing – i.e. using someone else’s work without giving them due credit. It’s every student’s nightmare and most of us have probably experienced this at one point or another either as a victim or perpetrator.
But how do you own up to it when everyone is so scared of getting caught? The fear of being caught and a bad reputation might deter some from owning up to their mistakes but let us assure you, your lecturer appreciates honesty more than anything else. Here are 6 reasons why you should always tell your lecturer if you accidentally plagiarize during an exam or essay:
You show that you are not a repeat offender.
If you accidentally plagiarize for the first time, you can rest assured that it won’t be the last time – no one is that unlucky. But if you are caught plagiarizing more than once then that’s not just a bad sign, it’s a big red flag. The fact that you were careless enough to plagiarize on more than one occasion suggests that either you are incredibly disorganized or you just don’t care enough about your education to put in the effort.
Your lecturer has a keen eye for these types of things and will be able to tell if you are a repeat offender. If you are caught plagiarizing even once and you tell your lecturer before they find out then you have a chance to show that you are not a repeat offender. You have a chance to prove that you are an organized person who just made a careless mistake, and not some careless person who doesn’t care.
You take the opportunity to learn from your mistake.
As we have mentioned above, if you make a careless mistake, you have a chance to prove that you are not a repeat offender. But what if you intended to plagiarize the whole time? What if the mistake you made was not an honest one? How can you take advantage of your mistake to improve? Well, plagiarizing on purpose is not something you should be proud of, that’s for sure.
But if you intended to plagiarize from the start, then your lecturer will know as soon as they look at your essay/exam and you are likely to get expelled from the university. Now, we don’t want to give you false hope that you can get away with it just because you intended to plagiarize from the start. Your lecturer will be able to tell if you used someone else’s work without giving them due credit, intentional or not.
If you are caught plagiarizing intentionally, telling your lecturer that you intended to do it won’t do anything to change their mind or their grading scale. You still plagiarized and you still have to face the consequences.
Your lecturer might be able to point out other areas where you can improve.
If you are an honest student who made a careless mistake and accidentally plagiarize, your lecturer will be able to see it as a chance to help you improve. They might point out areas where you can improve upon, suggest resources where you can find additional information, or even recommend a tutor that you can go to for help.
There are many ways that your lecturer can point out areas where you can improve without increasing your grade or making you feel bad about yourself for the mistake. Your lecturer is there for a reason. They are there to help you with your education and to point out areas where you can improve. If you accidentally plagiarize, then your lecturer will be able to use this as an opportunity to help you improve.
You’ll find out what went wrong and why it happened.
Even if your lecturer doesn’t give you any constructive criticism on how to improve, you will have a better understanding of what exactly happened and how it happened. You know that the paper that you turned in was not all your own work.
You know that you used someone else’s information without giving them due credit. You know that now and you can take steps to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. You know what exactly went wrong, which will make it easier for you to avoid it in the future.
The more people you tell, the less likely it is to be discovered by others.
As we have mentioned above, if you are caught plagiarizing it is only a matter of time before your lecturer finds out. It is only a matter of time before someone who has also been plagiarized finds out. You can’t control what your lecturer sees or doesn’t see and you can’t control if someone you plagiarized finds out. You can, however, control who you tell and when you tell them.
If you are honest and upfront with your lecturer, they are likely to keep your secret. If they know that you don’t want to get expelled, they are likely to not report your case. But if you keep quiet and someone else who has been plagiarized finds out that you plagiarized as well, they are likely to go straight to your lecturer and report you.
You might think that you can get away with plagiarizing on your own, but we can assure you, it’s not worth the stress and guilt. You might think that your lecturer won’t care if you accidentally plagiarize, but we promise that they appreciate it when you take responsibility for your mistake. You might think that your grade won’t be affected if you accidentally plagiarize, but we promise that it can affect your course grade and your overall GPA.
So, in short, it is always a good idea to be upfront and honest with your lecturer if you accidentally plagiarize. They will appreciate your honesty and they will be more than happy to help you avoid making the same mistake in the future.