I was writing a draft for an essay for a Political Philosophy course and I was extremely cramped time so I decided to pull quotes from the authors (Machiavelli and Hobbes) off the internet. Along with the quotes I took some of the leading sentences. I submitted the draft and changed up the quotes and the essay but accidentally emailed the wrong copy to the Teachers Assistant and handed in the proper copy.

I heard back from the department that I have an exploratory meeting about the essay.

What should I do/expect and how can I mitigate this, its my first offence and I don't want it on my record or get kicked out but I know I did something that is wrong.

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    No excuses. You committed a murder and expect to be forgiven? – Prof. Santa Claus Apr 20 '16 at 20:33
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    @StrongBad I've seen this type of excuses too many times -- 'so sorry I emailed you my draft instead of the copy without plagiarised text'. He/she chose to run the gauntlet, and got caught. Plain and simple. – Prof. Santa Claus Apr 20 '16 at 22:07
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    @Prof.SantaClaus but he also submitted the correct paper version, which in my mind complicates things. – StrongBad Apr 20 '16 at 22:09
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    @StrongBad OK. If that's the case, then we usually look at past history. Is this a good or bad student or one with personal issues. If the student is above par, then I would simply give the student a warning. – Prof. Santa Claus Apr 20 '16 at 22:11
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    How do you "accidentally" submit a plagiarized essay? – NZKshatriya Jan 25 '17 at 22:26

When I sat on my department's academic misconduct committee, students would regularly submit different electronic and paper versions of papers. We graded the paper versions and processed the electronic version with TurnItIn. The paper version would generally contain lots of plagiarized material that was absent from the electronic version. As a faculty member it was always difficult to determine what exactly happened. Generally, the students would claim the plagiarism free electronic version was the correct version and they printed the incorrect version.

In your case, it appears the electronically submitted version, presumably the one checked for plagiarism, was the one that had plagiarism and you printed the correct version. This not only seems more feasible (most of us have sent the wrong attachment on an email), there is no obvious benefit for you.

I would suggest you acknowledge that your work practices were sloppy and you should never have produce even a draft with any plagiarism. Your notes need to be very clear when you are taking direct quotes. You also need to acknowledge that you will be more careful when submitting work in the future. Finally, you can explain that there is no benefit for you to have turned in the wrong copy electronically and that you should be assessed on the paper copy after that copy is checked for plagiarism. You should be prepared to hand in the electronic copy of the paper version.

  • I am going to admit where I went wrong and that is was sloppy I am just worried about what the outcome is going to be for the first offence – Manjeet Sidhu Apr 20 '16 at 21:20
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    Depends on the school. If it is a single sanction school, you will be expelled. Each university has their own regulations, you might want to read the ones relevant to you before the hearing. – Debora Weber-Wulff Apr 21 '16 at 7:29
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    You ask for a printed and an electronic copy? The reason for that is so transparently obvious I feel like you're asking your students to cheat. Is the department so underfunded you can't afford to print papers? – user1717828 Apr 21 '16 at 15:11

Before going to the meeting, do your homework. Find your school's code of conduct, catalog statements, and/or program handbook and see what is PUBLISHED by the school regarding intentional or unintentional plagiarism. Did you have to sign something on admission or at the beginning of the semester/class/program that acknowledges your understanding of plagiarism rules? What does that say the consequences are?

You can ask for leniency, but be sure you have the policy in hand that shows the committee that they are allowed by their OWN RULES to give a more lenient consequence. Be sure that you admit that you did plagiarize, no excuses. Let them know what you will do differently next time.

I always encourage my students to AVOID QUOTES. Learn and synthesize the author's work, and put it in your own words (with appropriate citation). I have also used TurnItIn as a student and an instructor, and find it to be a useful tool to catch plagiarism. I am proud to say that as a student, I have had plagiarism values on TurnItIn that are consistently 2% or less...primarily because I avoid quotes and work hard to show what I learned rather than assembling knowledge from someone else. (OK, that sounds really snotty and stuck-up, sorry about that!)

Good luck to you!

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