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The purpose of this paper is to define what plagiarism is, how to avoid it, and what a student should do if they are accused of plagiarism. Specifically, this paper explains the penalties for being accused of plagiarism at Liberty University and what the appeal process is after being accused. Liberty University takes academic dishonesty very seriously and there will be consequences, such as receiving a failing grade or expulsion, if a student has plagiarized. Students can avoid plagiarism by ensuring they are appropriately citing their references and using quotation marks in their paper if they are copying a direct quote. If a student is accused of plagiarism, there is an appeal process they may go through if they feel that they were wrongly accused. This appeal process is slightly different for undergraduate students versus graduate students. Plagiarism has serious ramifications; therefore, students should be cautious that they are always submitting their own work and citing their references properly.

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Keywords: Plagiarism, Academic dishonesty, Plagiarism detection, Penalties, Appeals


Have you ever been accused of plagiarizing? Plagiarism is a problem in many universities around the world today. This paper will discuss what plagiarism is, how to avoid plagiarizing, plagiarism detection software, Liberty University’s penalties for plagiarizing, and the appeal process for plagiarizing at Liberty.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty. “Academic dishonesty is any deceitful or unfair act intended to produce a more desirable outcome on an exam, paper, homework assignment, or other assessment of learning” (Miller, Murdock, ; Grotewiel, 2017). Plagiarism can ruin academic careers if a student is convicted. According to Mehi? (2013), plagiarism is defined as “unauthorized appropriation of other people’s ideas, processes or text without giving correct credit and with intention to present it as own property.” There are many different types of plagiarism. Some of the different types include verbatim plagiarism, mosaic plagiarism, paraphrasing, self-plagiarism, cyber plagiarism and image plagiarism. Verbatim plagiarism is when you copy someone else’s work exactly, without citing them, and submit it as your own work. Mosaic plagiarism “involves mixing one’s own words in someone else’s ideas and opinions” (Dhammi, 2016). Self-plagiarism is copying your own work that you have previously submitted before. For example, if you submit a paper that you had already written for a different class instead of writing a new paper, that is self-plagiarism. “Duplication is not original. But it is also not theft” (Thurman, Chervenack, McCullough, Halwani, & Farine, 2016). Even though self-plagiarism is not theft, it is still dishonest. Cyber plagiarism is copying articles off of the internet and not giving the proper credit to the person who actually wrote the article. “Using an image or video without receiving proper permission or providing appropriate citation is plagiarism” (Dhammi, 2016). This is referred to as image plagiarism. Those are the many different types of plagiarism.

Ways to Avoid Plagiarism

There are various ways to avoid plagiarism. One thing that students should do is to make sure that every bit of information that they retrieve from another source is cited. “Keep honesty in all scientific writings” (Dhammi, 2016). This means that you should always be honest and give proper credit to the person’s work you are using. “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9). Another way is for the student to make sure they are using quotation marks. Quotation marks should be used when copying a direct quote from someone else. The student should research the correct way to make their citations to ensure that they are citing their sources correctly in the reference page and in the text of the paper. Finally, students can avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing. Paraphrasing means rephrasing something into your own words. When paraphrasing, the student should not replicate greater than two words consecutively. Most importantly, remember that it is always better to over-cite than to under-cite.

Plagiarism Detection Software. Plagiarism is one of the most serious academic offenses. Therefore, many schools use different kinds of plagiarism detection software to ensure that their students are not turning in plagiarized work. Some different types of plagiarism detection software include CrossCheck, eTBLAST, the google search engine and SafeAssign. CrossCheck is a “unique web-service for detecting plagiarism in scientific publications” (Kim, 2013). The google search engine and eTBLAST are software that look for text closeness. SafeAssign is the plagiarism detection software that is used by Liberty University. SafeAssign scans the student’s paper for plagiarism and gives a percentage for how much of the paper it deems plagiarized. These plagiarism detection software systems play a vital role in ensuring that students practice academic integrity and that writer’s will receive full credit for their work.

Liberty University Specific Penalties. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously at Liberty University. If a student plagiarizes in one of their courses they are taking at Liberty, there will be consequences. The first consequence is that the student will receive an automatic “F” in the course. If it is questionable as to whether the student committed plagiarism or not, the professor may give some minor consequences. These minor consequences may include extra work, reduced grades, or a stern talking to. “In some cases, punishment can be more extreme and involve expulsion from your academic program and/or Liberty” (Heady). The same consequences apply for undergraduate and graduate students. Those are some of the repercussions if a student plagiarizes while at Liberty University.

Liberty University Appeals Process. The appeals process after being accused of plagiarism is different depending on whether you are in undergraduate school or graduate school. If you are accused of plagiarism in undergraduate school, your professor must notify you within one week of the infringement. “He/she will present his case to you in an appropriate format, such as a conference, phone call, e-mail, or commentary on a paper” (Heady). If you do not agree with the charge, you may send a written appeal of the charge to the Department Chairperson (Heady). The next step, if the appeal is denied, is to write another appeal to the Dean of the school. If the second appeal is denied, you will have one week to write an appeal to the Senate Committee on Academic Admissions and Standards. From there, they will arrange a hearing for your appeal. Once the hearing is over, the committee will tell the Provost their recommendations and he/she will make the final decision. The appeals process for graduates is similar. The professor still has one week to notify you by the appropriate means of communication. Instead of submitting your appeal to the Department Chairperson, you will submit your written appeal straight to the Dean of the School. “If you lose this appeal, you have one week to submit a request for a hearing by the Committee on Graduate Academic and Admissions Standards, who will arrange a hearing in an appropriate format” (Heady). After the hearing, the committee will notify the Graduate Senate of their recommendation and then he/she will make the final decision. That is the appeals process for being accused of plagiarism at Liberty University.

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