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All about plagiarism

By October 10, 2018April 6th, 2022No Comments

The topic of plagiarism has increased over the decades. As the access to information has exponentially grown, so has the number of college plagiarism cases.

In a 2010 Texas Tech study, 68% of participants said that they saw students copying or paraphrasing from material without citation at least once in three years (College Plagiarism).

A 2011 Pew Research Center survey has shown that 55% of college presidents say that plagiarism in papers has increased over 10 years because of websites and social media sites (College Plagiarism). Clearly, the easily accessible information is too tempting for students not to take advantage. Professor Heinz Fenkl of SUNY New Paltz says that there is a major difference over the past decade with web related plagiarism, of which most of it is classified as unintentional plagiarism.

The definition of plagiarism is “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own” or to “use (another’s production) without crediting the source” (Merriam-Webster). Plagiarizing on purpose is wrong and students should be punished for that. However, accidental plagiarism does happen and can be avoided.

Professor Fenkl says that most students tend to not look over their plagiarism standards on the syllabus. Therefore, the careless or unintentional plagiarism from PDF documents or forgotten quotation marks, footnotes or bibliographies are more apparent. Fenkl also says that a lot of class reading is done online, so there is a lot of copying and pasting from the web to remember quotes. Before the web, people had to write quotes down by hand, now it is easier to forget what was a quote and what was not.

A helpful tip to avoid this mistake is to plan out your papers in advance, do not wait until the night before to write a research paper. If stress and no sleep are factors, there is a higher chance of accidentally plagiarizing a paper.

Professor Fenkl also notes a very common mistake nowadays regard incorrect citations and bibliographies. Since there are now websites that will generate citations for students, students do not learn how to properly cite a source. Therefore, students do not know when citations are incorrect. In order to ensure that students do not accidentally plagiarize, students need to study citation styles. For example, this blog is in the MLA style citation. There is also commonly used Chicago and APA formatting, however, students should use the style of formatting that their professor requires. There are information books and online resources about citations that students should start using their first day of freshman year.

More than ever there is system trying to detect plagiarism for colleges. Systems like Turnitin, Quetext, Dupli Checker, Copyleaks, and PaperRater compare millions of websites with the submission by the student and then highlight sections that are similar to other content on the internet. This report is then sent to the professor who then uses his or her discretion to charge a student with plagiarism or not.

There are a lot of plagiarism examples including direct copy and pasting, paraphrasing, and papers from other students. Students can be charged with plagiarism by their school, even if they did not intend to plagiarize. There are serious consequences for plagiarizing.

These consequences depend on a student’s university, but usually, they are the failure of the assignment, failure of the course, or expulsion from college. Unfortunately, these are the consequences of simple laziness. Obviously, no one wants to be in this situation. That is why it is imperative to educate yourself on citation techniques and correct information. Unfortunately, people are accused of plagiarizing and can face serious consequences.

It is imperative that if a student is accused of plagiarizing that they retain a qualified lawyer. Proving plagiarism cases requires expertise and research that only a lawyer can provide. Thankfully, DC Student Defense is here to help. It is much wiser to involve professional help at the beginning rather than get help too late.


“College Plagiarism: Awareness & Prevention Tips .” The College Transition Guide for ESL Students, 2018,

“Plagiarize.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,

Samuelson Young, Anna C. “Plagiarism with Professor Heinz Insu Fenkl .” 28 Aug. 2018.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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