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I Accidently Submitted an Unfinished Draft of a Paper – Is it Plagiarism?

by | Jun 16, 2022

Often times when a student contacts me and explains that they have been accused of plagiarism, I ask about the similarity report, such as Turnitin. I am often told that it came back with a high percentage of similarities, however the student maintains they did not plagiarize. When I ask them to explain what then happened, a common answer is – I accidently uploaded or turned in a draft and I had not yet fixed or finalized all of the citations.

Is submitting a draft considered plagiarism?

While there are always exceptions, the short answer is yes. The reason being is that most (but not all) schools do not differentiate between mistakes, accidents, or intentional behavior when it comes to plagiarism. There usually is no defense to say, “I didn’t mean to plagiarize” or “It was an accident.” To avoid this error, if students are going to keep multiple drafts of papers, consider:

  1. Creating separate folders for each draft and labeling them appropriately, such as “Draft 1.”
  2. Clearly labeling the actual document as “Draft.”
  3. Adding a watermark to the document that you are working on, also noting that it is a draft.

Finally, before you upload or email that document, take a minute to make sure that the attachment you selected is in fact the one you intended to send.

Taking some of these suggestions and taking your time could save you the problem of facing an academic integrity accusation.

Can you help me if I am accused of plagiarism?

Yes. I assist students in all phases of the student disciplinary process. So if you are facing a plagiarism accusation, give me a call to discuss how I may be able to help.

Richard Asselta is a defense lawyer for students facing academic integrity violations throughout the United States. Call today for a consultation. (855) 338-5299