You worked hard on a paper, you have citations for all of your quotes and paraphrased passages, you submit it to Turnitin and it comes back with a high percentage match. You now are face to face with your teacher or professor who is accusing you of plagiarism, but you didn’t plagiarize. What can you do?What is Turnitin and how does it in work? Turnitin is an online plagiarism detection service that many schools (K-12), school districts, colleges, and universities use to check whether the student’s submission is original and all sources are cited. There are many configurations that teachers can use when setting up the submission folder, such as whether to include quotes and the works cited information. The options a teacher uses could contribute to a higher percent match to other sources. The higher the percent match, the greater the appearance of plagiarism.
Does Turnitin always work? There are several ways at the moment that Turnitin can be beat. However, Turnitin advertise that it is constantly updating algorithms to include these work arounds. This makes Turnitin one of the most used plagiarism detection tools by schools. Even if you manage to beat Turnitin, teachers and professors are becoming aware of its shortcomings, and double checking work with low or no matches at all. That being said, schools place a great deal of weight on Turnitin match results.
How can I prove I didn’t plagiarize?
- Ask for a meeting with your teacher or professor – Maybe your instructor was not fully trained on how to use Turnitin. Maybe they are just reading the match percentage and did not analyze the matched text. They could have options checked like “include quotes,” or “scan citations,” that will create a higher match percentage. Ask to go over your submission together and have the teacher or professor show how they decided you plagiarized.
- Don’t immediately write a rebuttal to the accusation of plagiarism – Emailing your professor to create a paper trail may sound like a good idea, but they could use that email against you. An in-person meeting and discussion is a good first step, but wait and see if they drop the plagiarism accusation. They could agree with you or instead, move to charge you with academic dishonesty. If this happens you could face an academic hearing where you may be subject to suspension or expulsion from school.
I met with my professor and they still don’t believe me – now I am facing an academic hearing. What can I do now?
- Do not talk to any friends or school staff about the incident at this point – If you set forth your arguments in an in-person meeting and the teacher or professor still does not believe you, don’t talk to anyone else. Everything you write, state, or even tell a friend about the incident could come out at an academic hearing. These hearing are nothing like what happens in a courtroom. The school has the power to control the meeting according to the school handbook. And even then, schools routinely fail to understand or follow their own policies and procedures. This could lead to a disaster for a student accused of plagiarism.
- Hire an Education Law Attorney Immediately – The quicker an attorney is involved, the better the chance of avoiding the most severe penalties like suspension or expulsion. An education lawyer may be able to help you create a defense that could win at an academic hearing. They can help ensure the school follows policy and procedure which will give you the best chance at success.
An education lawyer can help you protect your educational future. If you are found guilty of plagiarism, you will have to disclose this to any other schools, colleges, and even professional licensing boards you apply to in the future. A notation on your school record can absolutely impact your future. Make your plagiarism defense the strongest it can be.Click to read our other posts for tips on fighting plagiarism accusations, professor accusations of cheating, and cheating in college. Richard Asselta is an award-winning education lawyer with offices in both Florida and New Jersey and offers services to students throughout the Unites States. He is experienced in defending all types of student disciplinary issues including accusations of plagiarism. Call The Education Lawyers today for a free consultation and protect your educational future. (855) 338-5299 Click here to read what client’s are saying about Richard Asselta on AVVO, a lawyer review website.