I am in masters and came from a very developing country to EU for study. The classes started online due to covid19 and exams were supposed to be on campus but they started online due to the situation. This was my first exam of the first semester.

I came to EU country for an online exam to save from internet problems. This was the first exam of my life which was open book and online. We were clearly told that you can use all resources you need. Time was short so I used the internet.

There was one practice question that was taught in detail in class so I wrote it as it is. I was not really aware of plagiarism and the rules surrounding it. I copied from the internet and from notes which I made after listening to recordings of lectures because I record lectures during class. I didn't have a high typing speed and didn't use my laptop very often so I copied and pasted. In some places, I used software quilbot to paraphrase and forgot to put references, although they didn't tell me to put them. I also used recommended books and some other websites.

The Professor even mailed us about a question that was going to come in the exam where he just changed the value. I have a habit of learning things by writing on a page so I practiced there and wrote down in the exam. Now I got mail that I had 95% overall plagiarism and 100% in the practice exam with 3 other students of my country and from internet sources. By looking at the paper it can be clearly determined that it is cheating. Even spelling mistakes were also the same but only I know it was just a coincidence, or maybe we came from the same system of education and searched the same kind of things. Despite this, we have different grades. I was the second position holder in the bachelor's project.

So what should I do now? I am ready to give them the paper again but I am worried they don't put strict allegations. I have no idea about this kind of thing. I asked them many times to take an on-campus exam due to my unfamiliarity with computers.

  • I'm sorry for being judgmental but you cheated and now you're asking for a special treatment just because you're a foreigner. You did not adequately prepare and they should flunk you. Plagiarism is serious but they will probably give you a second chance but you must be straight with them and get some help from Student Union or sth like that. – Peter Jun 9 at 7:08

I think you will need to provide more information before anything else can be determined. However, a few pieces of advice can be given

First, try to read up on the plagiarism guidelines of your institution. Reach out to teachers and/or colleagues to get a better sense of how plagiarism works where you are. It is essential to familiarise yourself with the system in delicate situations like this.

Secondly, you claim that you copied and pasted a lot. You also claim that even the spelling mistakes that you made were the same as those made by others. This seems like a clear case of plagiarism, although your institution's views may differ a little. From my personal experience, even if there is an open book exam, you aren't allowed to copy-paste answers. You have to attempt the questions yourself, you can just refer to outside sources for help. Copying answers would defeat the point of a practice exam, thus presumably wouldn't be allowed. It would be advisable to admit this to your professor honestly when discussing the issue with him/her. Lying or making stories could land you into bigger trouble.

Finally, you should definitely talk to your professor, and other relevant authorities about this. Tell them the full story, apologize if you did anything wrong and then explain to them your problems with computers. If they understand your problems, you might be treated more leniently. Even if they don't treat you more leniently, it is unlikely that you will be reprimanded for trying to explain the situation.


I think you need to do two things.

First, and I don't know whether it will save you or not, talk to the professor and explain that in your past education you never learned the rules expected in your current situation and that what you did would likely be acceptable. I'm assuming that is true, of course, and don't really know the details of the education system you grew up in. You might be able to obtain some accommodation, perhaps a re-test. But an apology is probably essential here.

Second, and this will definitely help but in the long run, undertake to learn the standards expected of you. Your professor might be able to point you to some things, but there are a lot of questions on this site that will give you an idea of how to avoid plagiarism, how to use sources, and the difference between copying and research. Let the professor know that you will do this and that you have learned from the experience.

People with different backgrounds can interpret the specific words of an instruction differently. If the professor has assumed a common understanding, especially with novice students, that might be a contributing factor here, but it probably isn't going to be enough to save you. It does, of course, surprise me that your undergraduate education didn't give you better guidance in these things. You were ill served if you haven't yet learned those lessons.

  • Well, the phrase "I used software quilbot to paraphrase" hints that the OP kind of understands that it's not okay just to copy&paste. – rg_software Mar 27 at 14:56

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