What Are the Consequences of Plagiarism? 5 Reasons You Need to Avoid Plagiarism at All Costs

The consequences of plagiarism include legal issues, lost money, and a ruined reputation.

What is plagiarism? What are the consequences of plagiarism that you should avoid?

Plagiarism is a serious problem today's writer must tackle head-on. Copyright laws protect written works from copying, and if you get caught, consequences will occur. At worse, you may have a failing grade on a paper and at worse, you could face a lawsuit for copyright infringement if accused of plagiarism. 

So what are the consequences of plagiarism? Understanding these will help you understand why plagiarizing is a serious problem that you need to avoid in your writing.

The Ease of Plagiarizing

What are the consequences of plagiarism

Today with written works available at the click of a button, plagiarizing is an easy mistake. Unintentional plagiarism occurs when you accidentally use someone's work without proper attribution. This is common in academic writing when students don't understand how to cite their sources properly.

Intentional plagiarism is far more serious. This involves submitting someone else's work and calling it your own. When a writer knowingly does this, they break copyright law and put their writing and academic career at risk.

Examples of Plagiarism and Consequences

Plagiarism seems like an innocent mistake, but when someone is caught, the consequences can be severe. In 2018, for example, the University of Toronto stripped Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Director of Education Chris Spence of his PhD earned from their institution when he received charges of 67 counts of plagiarism. As a result of this plagiarism, Spence also resigned from his job.

Not only can plagiarism cause you to lose your job and degree, but it can also be financially costly. In 2006 a Harvard student, Kaavya Viswanathan, published her first book and landed a two-book deal for more. As a result, all of Viswanathan’s books got pulled from the shelves and she lost her $500,000 book deal.

These are just two high-profile examples that show the far-reaching potential consequences of plagiarism. Here is a closer look at all of the ways you could be hurt if you choose to plagiarize.

Consequences of Plagiarism

Consequences of plagiarism
If you are accused of plagiarism, the original author of the piece has the right to pursue legal action against you

If you are accused of plagiarism, the original author of the piece has the right to pursue legal action against you. The consequences you face will depend on where you published your piece, but here are some common ones. 

1. Lowered Grade on Paper

Plagiarism is common in academic writing, and the main consequence, if you get caught, is a lowered or failing grade on the paper or project. Professors and colleges maintain high standards for avoiding plagiarism, and they will publish those standards in a handbook or guide to writing on papers. 

If you are found to copy work without proper citation, your professor can hand out a failing grade. This can happen even with unintentional plagiarism, which is why using a plagiarism checker is important. 

2. Destroyed Student Reputation

Academic integrity is important to the modern college. A plagiarist is going to fight a damaged reputation in all academic institutions, and the incident can tarnish an otherwise good academic record. Teachers will look more closely at future papers a student submits after the accusation. 

Schools can take this further than simply a damaged reputation. Academic dishonesty can be grounds for expulsion or other disciplinary action, like loss of a scholarship degree revocation. Being accused of plagiarism in high school can make it more difficult to get into college as well. 

3. Destroyed Professional Reputation

Not only are students at risk for plagiarism, but professionals are as well. Someone who is in the public eye can lose their job or their reputation as a thought leader if they publish a work as their own that someone else wrote. 

Accusations of plagiarism follow individuals throughout their professional life. It is hard ot move past this, and the problem can create challenges building a career.

4. Legal Consequences

Legal consequences can be quite serious with plagiarism accusations. Copyright laws clearly state that writers cannot use someone else's material without citing the source and referencing it, even if they just paraphrase the work. If the original author catches your error, a lawsuit may occur.

5. Monetary Costs

Finally, one of the most serious consequences of plagiarism is lost money. If you have a lawsuit, you may be asked to pay monetary restitution. If you are working professionally in a field where this type of legal issue is serious, you may lose your job. 

How to Avoid Plagiarism

With the serious consequences of plagiarism, you need ot make sure you are doing all you can to avoid it. Often plagiarism stems from laziness because a writer doesn't want to take the time to cite references properly or put quotes in quotation marks with a proper citation.

Sometimes belligerent copying and pasting can even occur, but more often plagiarism is simply taking someone else's ideas and putting it in your own words, without citation.  

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to thoroughly document your sources and quotations.

That said, unintentional plagiarism can still happen. In fact, prolific writers can even find themselves guilty of self-plagiarism, writing something similar to something they previously published.

A plagiarism checker can help you avoid these issues. TurnItIn is one of the best out there, offering a chance to check work against online publications for instances of plagiarism. 

A Final Word on What Are the Consequences of Plagiarism

The consequences of plagiarism affect every area of your life. Because of this, you need to avoid it. Never copy and paste someone else's work and call it your own, and use plagiarism checkers to avoid plagiarizing your own work and the work of others.

FAQs About What Are the Consequences of Plagiarism

What happens if you plagiarize in college?

Plagiarism can lead to expulsion from your academic institution, a failing grade on your paper or failing the entire class.

What are the consequences of plagiarism in high school?

Instances of plagiarism in high school can become part of your academic record. They can also pull down your GPA. Both of these make it harder to get into college.

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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