How to Prove You Didn't Plagiarize and Maintain a Reputation at the University

Academic Plagiarism

24 Apr 2023

This article will help you avoid plagiarism and provide ways to prove the originality of your academic paper.

How to prove you didn't plagiarize

Imagine: you wrote your paper for a long time, did research, and spent several hours on design, and you were accused of plagiarism. Does it hurt? Yes! Is it annoying? Extremely!

This situation can arise if you took information from several sources and forgot to indicate the citation, accidentally wrote it like someone else before you, or took text parts from previous assignments. As you can see, there can be a lot of reasons.

But take your time before quitting the university and ruining your relationship with the teacher. Instead, let's see how this situation could arise and how to prove you didn't plagiarize.

How do college professors check for plagiarism?

Thousands of texts are written today, so it is unsurprising if a few words from your paper coincide with what someone said earlier. Nevertheless, each student's work is checked for plagiarism. 

Every professor has different methods. Most often, professors use plagiarism checkers like Fixgerald a special program that automatically checks the matches in the text in a few minutes. Others might pull up a search engine and look for commonly used words and phrases in your paper. Some may find plagiarism while finding the sudden change in students writing style and strange changes in tenses or in using terms.

What comes together with plagiarism?

If you choose to plagiarize, you should expect several unpleasant consequences:

  1. Getting bad grades. It is the most straightforward consequence students can expect if they plagiarize someone's work. The professor can lower your score and overall impression of you.
  2. Rewriting the paper. If the professor does not believe you wrote the work, they may ask you to rewrite the paper. Yes, it may be offensive and time-consuming because you must spend much effort again.
  3. Sending down the university or college. It is the most unpleasant and shocking thing that can happen to a student accused of plagiarism.

If you want to avoid these consequences, don't copy anything. If the teacher says you are caught plagiarizing, don't rush to get upset. You can prove that you didn't do anything wrong using our tips.

How to prove you didn't plagiarize?

If you are accused of plagiarism, the first thing to do is not panic and calm down. On the contrary, you need to be calm to deliver your point to the professor and convince them.

1. Ask for a document with the plagiarism test result. When the professor uploads your work to the plagiarism checker, they receive the results as a document with percentages, underlined places of matches, and links from where the information was taken. If the checker is misconfigured, it may also consider documents unrelated to your topic. For example, you are writing research about climate change, and the program finds that some of your words are taken from a paper about Napoleon's conquests.

To make sure that there are no such inaccuracies, you need to study the verification report. But first, ask the professor for it.

2. Suggest using a different plagiarism checker. Various programs give different results. Quite frequently, they have a different number of words, which is considered a match, and sometimes the algorithm is different. Nevertheless, it is still one of the best ways to detect plagiarism. You can't know your professor's settings, but checking with another program might help you eliminate plagiarism accusations.

3. Provide evidence. If you worked on the text of an essay or report, you most likely still have some proof of your work. These can be notes, screenshots of search queries, drafts, etc.

Gather them all together and show your professor to prove your independent work. This method also works if the teacher thinks the paper needs to be written in your style if it's creative work.

4. Admit your mistake. For example, if you identified the citation source incorrectly, forgot to indicate the authority in general, or paraphrased someone's thoughts without knowing it was plagiarism, tell your professor about it. It is unlikely they will perceive such a mistake as deliberate plagiarism.

5. Demand oral protection. It is the most effective way when it comes to allegations of plagiarism. If you wrote the work yourself, you know its content by default and can easily prove it. Tell the professor to ask you questions, reveal the essay's essence and show your mastery over the subject.

6. Collect a list of sources of information. When you write an academic paper, you may have many different sources of information. Of course, in such a flow, it is easy to forget something. However, you can fix this if you were falsely accused of plagiarism by collecting all the sources in one list and showing them to the professor.

7. Gather witnesses. If you wrote your work while not at home, e.g., in the library, you could ask other students you met that day to help prove your innocence. Let them tell you how you conducted the research and wrote the paper.

8. Contact the university management. If the teacher does not want to listen to your arguments, and all the above methods do not work, you can contact the university's dean or senior management and provide them with all the evidence collected. Don't be afraid to do it. Though, talk to the professor first; you must ensure they accuse you of plagiarism and don't want to listen to your arguments.

9. Ask how you can improve the situation. Sometimes, the university has its own rules when they catch a student plagiarizing. You can find out what to do in such a case and follow the instructions received.

10. Keep standing up for your work. Once accused of plagiarism, you must be consistent and defend your paper. Try different ways, stay honest and open, answer the professor's questions, and don't hesitate to provide more evidence.

Why do students plagiarize? Sometimes they don't even know that they do so. Nonetheless, it is nasty to be accused of plagiarism. Remember, some things are better than they seem at first glance. You always have the opportunity to keep your reputation and high scores.

Steps to take to check for plagiarism and be sure you have avoided it

If you want to avoid plagiarism and don’t want to Google for the answer: “how to prove you didn't plagiarize a paper,” there are a few steps you should take before submitting your essay. Save this checklist so you don't forget anything.

  • Do not retell other people's thoughts. The easiest thing you can do to avoid plagiarism is to write about your experiences and ideas. Do not try to copy or retell someone else's research. If you do, be sure to cite the source.
  • Check your paper for uniqueness at the Fixgerald plagiarism checker. This will help you quickly see which text looks like plagiarism, and you can replace it before delivery. Of course, different services show different results, but you will have more confidence in being verified.
  • Stick to citation rules. Each university has its own rules for citing and paperwork. Before starting your academic writing, get to know them and determine your expectations. Before submitting, check whether you comply with the requirements and scan for any errors in the citation design.
  • Check the quotes. If the plagiarism detector shows some sections are not original, you can format them as citations. Show the source, and then no one can accuse you of plagiarism. Still, be limited in sources, and do not turn your paper into a big citation.
  • Format the bibliography correctly. There are several types of citing literature in your essay. They depend on the kind of citation and university requirements. If you format the list of sources properly, the likelihood that the program will decide you have plagiarized is less. Thus, be sure to follow the rules.
  • Check everything several times. Before submitting, read and check your work several times at short intervals or better on different days. Then, after resting, you can find errors that you overlooked before.

Final thoughts

Plagiarism is a case every student can face because they study information from books that someone has written. Unfortunately, paraphrased thoughts are also considered plagiarism. Therefore, you can make a mistake without even noticing it.

Some students get low grades and a plagiarism diagnosis without even realizing what they did wrong. If you are one of them, follow the instructions we have written in this article. For example, to avoid plagiarism accusations, check your work several times on different services and proofread it by yourself.

However, if you are accused of plagiarism, do not be discouraged. You can collect evidence of your pure work and prove otherwise. We wish you unplagiarized essays and advise you to be honest with yourself, the professor, and other students; studying will be easy and exciting when you accept the game rules!

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