Plagiarism is one of the most common forms of academic misconduct schools and colleges have to contend with. It is considered a very serious offense, and even accidental plagiarism can lead to dire disciplinary consequences.
You could spend days working hard on a computer program, writing the code from scratch, and still get accused of plagiarizing someone else's code. This may sound unfair, but it has been known to happen. However, being accused of plagiarism does not necessarily have to mean your academic record is permanently marred.
There are steps you can take to check your work for plagiarism before turning it in. But if you do face a plagiarism accusation, it is important to hire a skilled attorney-advisor who can help you plan your defense, gather evidence, and advise you on the course of action you should take.
Consider hiring a specialized attorney-advisor who can provide legal guidance and help you protect your professional record if you are accused of plagiarism. Joseph D. Lento is a skilled attorney-advisor who specializes in student defense and has helped thousands of students across the country deal with cases of academic misconduct, sexual misconduct, and other school-related issues and concerns, including plagiarism.
Plagiarism Is A Serious Offense
Plagiarism is defined as the act of passing someone else's work off as your own. This includes copying part or all of a document or code, using a quote without credit, ‘borrowing' content from different sources or hiring someone to complete a paper or assignment for you.
Since plagiarism is essentially theft of intellectual property, it violates copyright and trademark laws and can even result in a civil lawsuit against the person responsible. Schools, colleges, and other educational universities are particularly careful to be on the lookout for plagiarized work since they have ethical standards to uphold.
Plagiarizing assignments also stunts learning because it is the lazy way out and doesn't require a student to put original thought and effort into an assignment.
It may be tempting to ‘borrow' a small section of text from an external source or a few lines of code to finish that challenging assignment you've spent hours over. Even accidental plagiarism - where you forget to add quote marks, links, or citations or write something remarkably similar to a different paper - can happen easily and often.
But plagiarism is a serious case of misconduct and is dealt with strictly in most schools or colleges, unless they believe it was accidental.
Plagiarism Detection Software AntiCutandPaste (ACNP)
You might be aware that just as intellectual property like songs, stories, or ideas are protected by copyright and trademark laws and cannot be copied without permission, bits of code are also considered intellectual property and protected by law.
Your school or college can hold you responsible for plagiarism if they find part or all of your code has been copied from a different source. You can even be accused of self-plagiarism if your code is similar or identical to work you may have turned in, in the past.
Schools and colleges use plagiarism detection software tools, which are programs that can compare documents or code and identify similarities in language, structure, or ideas.
AntiCutAndPaste (ACNP) is one such tool that institutions may use to identify and flag plagiarized work.
What Is ACNP?
ACNP, short for AntiCutAndPaste, is a plagiarism detection software that searches for identical text or code fragments across documents consisting of source code or plain text. It works on C++, Visual Basic, Delphi, Java, and C# projects and can be used to compare code from publicly available sources as well as internal projects.
It works with both Windows and Linux, with the Linux version free for non-commercial use.
How Does ACNP Detect Plagiarism in Computer Programming?
ACNP searches for text fragments that have been copied and pasted into your code. If you insert copied bits of code into an original bit of work, ACNP may detect it and flag your work as copied. Although it isn't among the most effective plagiarism detection tools, it is capable of identifying code fragments that have been copied verbatim.
It may also flag your work as plagiarized if it is too similar to other sources of code.
AntiPlagiarist: A Free Plagiarism Detection Tool You Can Use to Check Your Work Before Turning It In
AntiPlagiarist is ANCP's free plagiarism detection tool that students can download and use to check their work before they submit it. It is similar to TurnItIn, a popular plagiarism detection tool that schools often make available to students for free.
Using AntiPlagiarist to check your work lets you ensure there is no repetition and that you don't accidentally have a few lines of code identical to someone else's program. AntiPlagiarist can quickly compare multiple documents, searching for identical fragments of code and flagging any suspicious findings.
It is a good idea to run all your assignments through AntiPlagiarist, or a different plagiarism checker tool before you turn them in to ensure they don't contain accidental or inadvertent plagiarism. Some of the best plagiarism checkers you can use to check your work include TurnItIn, Copyleaks, Codeleaks, MOSS, Unicheck, and Codequiry. Many of these are free and easily available for download.
Getting Accused of Programming Plagiarism
Despite the best of intentions, you could still find yourself accused of plagiarism at some point. If an instructor runs your work through a plagiarism detection software that flags any part of the text as copied, they may file a complaint with the school. Depending upon the school's Student Conduct Code and policies, you may have to go through a process similar to the one outlined below:
- Formal Notice: Your school authorities will formally notify you of the complaint or accusation made against you. At this point, there is little you can do apart from waiting to see what happens next.
- Investigation: The school board or disciplinary committee may conduct an investigation where they examine the evidence, question you and your instructors or peers, and decide if the complaint has merit.
- Formal Hearing: If the school authorities decide the complaint against you has merit, and is of a serious nature, they may decide to conduct a hearing where you will be expected to defend yourself and provide evidence in your favor.
- Ruling: After the hearing, your school authorities or disciplinary board will meet and make a decision on whether they believe you to have committed plagiarism or not. They will also deliberate over the punishment or disciplinary action you will face.
- Appeal: After the board's decision is announced, you will have some time to appeal the decision. Depending upon your school's rules and policies, you may be granted another hearing.
What If I Am Found To Have Committed Plagiarism?
Schools and colleges tend to take plagiarism very seriously, and depending on your own institution's policies, you may face medium to severe consequences for copying.
These consequences may include:
- A formal reprimand
- Temporary probation
- A monetary fine
- Being asked to repeat the class, semester, or year
- Academic and/or extracurricular restrictions
Being suspended could have far-reaching consequences because it would lead to a gap in your transcript that would need to be explained whenever you apply for a fellowship, employment, internship, or admission to another study program.
However, it may be possible to appeal beyond the school level. An experienced advisor-attorney could guide you through the process and advocate on your behalf, often without needing to resort to litigation.
The Consequences of Being Disciplined for Plagiarism
Being found responsible for plagiarism can be fairly damaging to your career and future. At worst, you could be expelled from your school or college and will find it very difficult to join a different study program.
Even lesser penalties like a suspension, fine, or formal reprimand could go on your academic record and hurt your chances while applying for higher education programs, employment, or fellowships.
The best course of action is to do whatever you can to get the charges dropped during the disciplinary process. An attorney-advisor experienced in student defense can help you put together a defense strategy and limit punitive consequences, which can be very damaging to your career.
Will I Face Criminal Charges?
Although plagiarism is illegal and taken very seriously by schools and colleges, being found responsible for plagiarism will very rarely result in a criminal charge. However, because plagiarism involves the theft and misuse of intellectual property and violates copyright and trademark laws, it is a very serious offense.
If the person or organization you have plagiarized from believes they may have suffered a loss owing to your actions, they could file a civil lawsuit against you.
However, in most cases of plagiarism by students, the consequences are limited to disciplinary action taken by the school, university, or college. It can be extremely beneficial to have an attorney-advisor by your side in these circumstances since an expert in student defense can successfully guide you through a tricky situation like this and is likely to be well-versed with the nuances of the Student Conduct Code and other rules and policies.
Trying to deal with a case of academic misconduct on your own can be daunting and even risky since the outcome could negatively impact your career for years to come. An experienced attorney-advisor can guide you and communicate effectively with the school authorities. They will also ensure the school authorities stay accountable to someone and act reasonably.
Do I Need To Hire An Attorney?
You don't always need to hire legal aid as soon as you are accused of plagiarism. But if the charges against you are serious and you are likely to face disciplinary action, it helps to include an attorney-advisor at an early stage.
Most colleges do not allow official legal representation for students during disciplinary proceedings, but you are allowed to have an advisor to guide you. An attorney who operates in an advisory capacity (an attorney-advisor) can help you navigate the disciplinary process.
Your attorney-advisor should be well-versed with the Student Code of Conduct at your school or college, be experienced in student defense, and take a cooperative approach to getting your charges dropped.
It can be very helpful to have an attorney-advisor to guide you through the process, since you or your parents might find it difficult to understand the nuances of the rules and policies at your school and decide upon the best course of action.
You Need To Have A Strong Defense: Hire An Experienced Attorney-Advisor Today
The earlier you include an attorney-advisor in your defense, the better chance you have of saving your career. If you or your child has been accused of plagiarism by a school authority, or if a plagiarism detection tool like ACNP has flagged your work, you should reach out and hire an attorney-advisor right away. Charting a course of action by yourself in such a tricky situation is risky and can derail your career entirely.
Joseph D. Lento has helped thousands of students from all over the country facing academic misconduct charges, including plagiarism, and is a nationally recognized expert in student defense and other school-related legal issues and concerns. He has a much deeper understanding of school bureaucracy and disciplinary committees than a generalist local law firm and will work to achieve the best possible resolution for you and your child.
Moreover, as an expert, he understands how ACNP and other plagiarism detection tools can be used to bring charges against students and knows how to navigate the disciplinary process and protect your child's future.
Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to protect your future.