Jump to content
punctiliousdog

question about academic offence

Recommended Posts

out of curiosity, let's say you obtain a PhD

a prof looks back at your old undergrad essay, and you get into trouble for an academic offence even though you already finished undergrad 6 years ago

1. Apart from losing your bachelor's degree, do you also lose your master's and PhD degrees?

2. Moreover, will your name be retracted from any papers you successfully published while you were a PhD student?

When i'm talking about an academic offence, I mean poorly paraphrasing 8 words in an undergrad essay (those 8 words look very similar to a sentence from the original source)

I'm also curious about academic offences that are a bit more severe in nature; in more severe cases, would you lose all THREE degrees, your bachelor's, master's , AND PhD? and would your name be retracted from any papers you published when you were a PhD student?

Thanks!

Edited by punctiliousdog
hey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think if you've finished your undergrad degree and the accidental plagiarism flew under the radar, it is EXTREMELY unlikely that anyone will ever retrospectively go back, re-read your old essay, and catch it. (The exception being if the undergrad paper was published, or *possibly* if it is archived as a thesis...)

I would imagine that the two likely outcomes are:

1. You get busted for the academic offense in undergrad, you deal with the consequences then, and when you apply for PhD programs, they expect an explanation for the offense on your record. This may hurt your admission chances.

2. Nobody notices when you're in undergrad. You finish your degree, and nobody ever reads that essay ever again. Nothing happens.

 

If you did something extremely serious, like blatant data fraud or something, then there would probably be more far-reaching repercussions on subsequent work and degrees... I don't know of any instances of this actually happening to anybody.

Edited by brainlass

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The short answer is to not worry about this.

But a quick note: it sounds like you are worried about plagiarism and your concern is that you very poorly paraphrased 8 words so that they look very similar. This has the implication that if you paraphrased it better so it looked different, it wouldn't be plagiarism. But it would still be plagiarism if you paraphrased and didn't cite it. 

That said, again, it is unlikely anything bad will happen to you. Even if you got caught by your undergrad school, it would be ridiculous to revoke a degree because of this. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is extremely unlikely to be an issue. As a general rule, the punishment (if any) will be relative to the offense. So if we're talking about one sentence, as a first offense, that shouldn't lead to anything nearly as drastic as withdrawn papers or degrees. More generally, each university has its own office of academic integrity that investigates these matters. Someone would have to file a complaint about your offense, it would be investigated, and a measure might be taken accordingly. For something small, probably nothing more than a warning, maybe a zero on an assignment, or similar. Your degree will not be affected by something like this. Cases where someone's degree is revoked or papers are withdrawn are very rare and usually involve much larger scale fabrication of data, plagiarism, or similar. I hope you're asking about these things just out of curiosity, but just in case, plagiarism can get you in serious trouble even if it doesn't lead to a degree being revoked. Cite where appropriate. When in doubt, cite even more. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pretty sure this was posted last year and the answer, as then, was no

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, fuzzylogician said:

This is extremely unlikely to be an issue. As a general rule, the punishment (if any) will be relative to the offense. So if we're talking about one sentence, as a first offense, that shouldn't lead to anything nearly as drastic as withdrawn papers or degrees. More generally, each university has its own office of academic integrity that investigates these matters. Someone would have to file a complaint about your offense, it would be investigated, and a measure might be taken accordingly. For something small, probably nothing more than a warning, maybe a zero on an assignment, or similar. Your degree will not be affected by something like this. Cases where someone's degree is revoked or papers are withdrawn are very rare and usually involve much larger scale fabrication of data, plagiarism, or similar. I hope you're asking about these things just out of curiosity, but just in case, plagiarism can get you in serious trouble even if it doesn't lead to a degree being revoked. Cite where appropriate. When in doubt, cite even more. 

Hey fuzzylogician, thanks for the reassurance!

Out of curiosity, let's say I ALREADY finished my PhD

and a prof reads back to the old UNDERGRAD essay and finds those poorly 8 paraphrased words.

My final grade for that UNDERGRADUATE course gets retroactively reduced from an 85 to a 55.
That initiates a cascade of events...

Because the undergrad course grade is now 55 , my cumulative undergrad GPA is NOW technically BELOW the requirement for graduate school admissions (initially, my cumulative undergrad GPA was good enough for me to be admitted into the PhD program, but not anymore as a result of the retroactive change of an undergraduate course grade).

So because of this downstream CHAIN of events, would they revoke my PhD because of the retroactive change of an undergraduate course grade?

I know I worry too much, it's a habit of mine, sorry!

Edited by punctiliousdog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have higher odds of getting hit by a meteorite. Believe me, even if that passage was terribly obvious plagiarism, professors barely have time to read papers for the first time to correct them, much to less go back and read old papers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, punctiliousdog said:

Hey fuzzylogician, thanks for the reassurance!

Out of curiosity, let's say I ALREADY finished my PhD

and a prof reads back to the old UNDERGRAD essay and finds those poorly 8 paraphrased words.

My final grade for that UNDERGRADUATE course gets retroactively reduced from an 85 to a 55.
That initiates a cascade of events...

Because the undergrad course grade is now 55 , my cumulative undergrad GPA is NOW technically BELOW the requirement for graduate school admissions (initially, my cumulative undergrad GPA was good enough for me to be admitted into the PhD program, but not anymore as a result of the retroactive change of an undergraduate course grade).

So because of this downstream CHAIN of events, would they revoke my PhD because of the retroactive change of an undergraduate course grade?

I know I worry too much, it's a habit of mine, sorry!

That is so incredibly unlikely, if it happens to you, you should buy a lottery ticket. Or like the other poster writes, look out for meteorites. 

It'd be a multi-year process involving several institutions, each of which choosing to inflict a maximum punishment that is obviously no where near proportional to the original offense. I can't see that happening at all. You would have protections, too, and you could get a lawyer -- but again, this won't happen. 

What possible reason would a professor have for going back and rereading a random undergraduate essay that is a decade old? We don't even like doing it when they pay us. And closely enough to notice 8 words that look like they might be poorly paraphrased? And then to decide to report that to the disciplinary committee? That's time and effort on the prof's part that makes absolutely no sense for them to spend on this. They'd have to be exceptionally motivated to harm you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone who has caught student plagiarism, I can tell you--it is actually (at my R1 university, anyway) very rare for a student to get kicked out for a single incidence of plagiarism. It is most likely, as others have mentioned, that you receive a zero on that assignment (and in some cases, you might just receive a written warning). We keep our papers from our students for one semester after the course is completed. After that time, we don't keep track of it anymore. 

I can say, a number of my undergraduate papers were bad. Like really bad. Not plagiarized, but I would be embarrassed to have those horrible papers be reviewed by anyone. The truth is, unless you submit the paper as a writing sample or otherwise publish it, after you turn it in, it is long forgotten by the faculty and university. Unless you've given someone a reason to, no one is combing through your undergraduate essays to see if you paraphrased poorly on one essay.

I would not, in the slightest, worry about 8 poorly paraphrased words. I would caution you, however, that if you are getting a PhD (or already have one), you need to be careful to not do this again in the future. More than your degrees, you risk your credibility.

Edited by wolframheart

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/5/2018 at 10:48 AM, punkwich said:

Pretty sure this was posted last year and the answer, as then, was no

I thought this question rang a bell and your memory is better than mine. Maybe if this is a recurring and long-term worry, OP should talk to someone about it...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/5/2018 at 5:10 PM, fuzzylogician said:

That is so incredibly unlikely, if it happens to you, you should buy a lottery ticket. Or like the other poster writes, look out for meteorites. 

It'd be a multi-year process involving several institutions, each of which choosing to inflict a maximum punishment that is obviously no where near proportional to the original offense. I can't see that happening at all. You would have protections, too, and you could get a lawyer -- but again, this won't happen. 

What possible reason would a professor have for going back and rereading a random undergraduate essay that is a decade old? We don't even like doing it when they pay us. And closely enough to notice 8 words that look like they might be poorly paraphrased? And then to decide to report that to the disciplinary committee? That's time and effort on the prof's part that makes absolutely no sense for them to spend on this. They'd have to be exceptionally motivated to harm you.

thank you so much fuzzylogician, the fact that you even responded to me in the first place and took the time to read my post makes me ever so grateful for your your response
I truly appreciate your response!

well actually what worries me is that last week, i submitted my final paper for a course

i was doing an allnighter and i was really tired
so I'm not even sure if I directly took a sentence from an essay cuz I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open
 I already submitted the essay and now that I think retrospectively back to this incident, it haunts me still
the final mark is out, I got an A in the course

I'm concerned about one sentence, this sentence was 62 words long
I'm worried that the first half of the sentence (which is 21 words, yes I counted... I'm an Obssessive perfectionist) was copied word for word, and
the fact that I was so sleepy during that time could have led to this, IF THIS HAPPENED, my memory is distorted....

I know I have the potential to get a PHD one day (because I'm determined)
but just worried that my PHD will be revoked one day, because the prof will look back to these 21 words 
I'm particularly worried about a phenomenon known as CRYPTOMNESIA, where I believe what I wrote was new and original, but was actually plagiarized
I'm afraid of this because I was really sleepy at that time

I'm not even sure that I copied it word for word or not
I keep on copying and pasting these 21 words into Google search and Google scholar, no matching results come up, so I think I should be fine?
I go back to a potential paper where I could have gotten this idea from, nope, no matching results come up

my course grade is already out, I got an A,
and I know that I shall never pull an all nighter again, cuz they're not good for my health,
and I know never to plagiarize, plagiarism is wrong and dishonest

but the other half of me is haunting me.... I know I worry I lot, and I promise this is my last question.... :( 
Thank you fuzzylogician!
I'm worried about having experienced CRYPTOMNESIA and worried about having plagiarized half a sentence
(this sentence is 62 words in length, but the first half of the sentence, which I am worried about having plagiarized, is 21 words in length

sorry for worrying so much! this is haunting me! haha, I promise this is my last question!
What's your take on this?
Should I be worried about having my PHD in the future revoked because of this incident that happened last week, potentially (but not definitely) relevant to cryptomnesia?

Edited by punctiliousdog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, punctiliousdog said:

thank you so much fuzzylogician, the fact that you even responded to me in the first place and took the time to read my post makes me ever so grateful for your your response
I truly appreciate your response!

well actually what worries me is that last week, i submitted my final paper for a course

i was doing an allnighter and i was really tired
so I'm not even sure if I directly took a sentence from an essay cuz I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open
 I already submitted the essay and now that I think retrospectively back to this incident, it haunts me still
the final mark is out, I got an A in the course

I'm concerned about one sentence, this sentence was 62 words long
I'm worried that the first half of the sentence (which is 21 words, yes I counted... I'm an Obssessive perfectionist) was copied word for word, and
the fact that I was so sleepy during that time could have led to this, IF THIS HAPPENED, my memory is distorted....

I know I have the potential to get a PHD one day (because I'm determined)
but just worried that my PHD will be revoked one day, because the prof will look back to these 21 words 
I'm particularly worried about a phenomenon known as CRYPTOMNESIA, where I believe what I wrote was new and original, but was actually plagiarized
I'm afraid of this because I was really sleepy at that time

I'm not even sure that I copied it word for word or not
I keep on copying and pasting these 21 words into Google search and Google scholar, no matching results come up, so I think I should be fine?
I go back to a potential paper where I could have gotten this idea from, nope, no matching results come up

my course grade is already out, I got an A,
and I know that I shall never pull an all nighter again, cuz they're not good for my health,
and I know never to plagiarize, plagiarism is wrong and dishonest

but the other half of me is haunting me.... I know I worry I lot, and I promise this is my last question.... :( 
Thank you fuzzylogician!
I'm worried about having experienced CRYPTOMNESIA and worried about having plagiarized half a sentence
(this sentence is 62 words in length, but the first half of the sentence, which I am worried about having plagiarized, is 21 words in length

sorry for worrying so much! this is haunting me! haha, I promise this is my last question!
What's your take on this?
Should I be worried about having my PHD in the future revoked because of this incident that happened last week, potentially (but not definitely) relevant to cryptomnesia?

no, you should not be worried about that, because it is ridiculous and not going to happen. a) how will the prof access this paper you wrote in undergrad? b ) since you can't find an exact match, how will they find an exact match? c) how often do PhD's get revoked for undergraduate offences (never)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Listen, multiple people have told you that this scenario you're imagining is entirely implausible. Now you're telling us that you can't even find the supposedly plagiarized part. What's the worry, then? There is no way your professor will go back and look through this paper for plagiarism -- why would he ever do that in the first place? And apparently there's nothing to find. Again, no one will revoke a PhD degree because of a problem with one third of one sentence in an undergraduate paper.

Take this as a learning and growth opportunity. Stop working last minute in the middle of the night, so you're not causing yourself this kind of anxiety again. And for the love of god, have mercy on your professors and stop writing sentences that are 62 words long. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/17/2018 at 1:51 PM, punkwich said:

no, you should not be worried about that, because it is ridiculous and not going to happen. a) how will the prof access this paper you wrote in undergrad? b ) since you can't find an exact match, how will they find an exact match? c) how often do PhD's get revoked for undergraduate offences (never)


well the thing is , the prof can access this paper, because I submitted the final version to the prof via email, and one day , the prof may decide to read back to the email ( I know it's very unlikely though)

ermm , in the worst case scenario, let's say that I actually DID end up plagiarizing half of a 72 word sentence within an undergrad paper (4th year course)
(36 words from this sentence were plagiarized)
because I was sleepy pulling an all-nighter

now, my university policy says that profs must report any plagiarism, no matter how severe, even if it's just one sentence (and I assume this policy holds true for every university, since universities takes academics very seriously)

Would a professor ever be morally inclined to PRETEND that this one single plagiarized sentence NEVER happened, even though my university policy says that professors must report any cases of plagiarism, no matter how severe it is, even if it's just one sentence?

Edited by punctiliousdog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/17/2018 at 2:32 PM, fuzzylogician said:

Listen, multiple people have told you that this scenario you're imagining is entirely implausible. Now you're telling us that you can't even find the supposedly plagiarized part. What's the worry, then? There is no way your professor will go back and look through this paper for plagiarism -- why would he ever do that in the first place? And apparently there's nothing to find. Again, no one will revoke a PhD degree because of a problem with one third of one sentence in an undergraduate paper.

Take this as a learning and growth opportunity. Stop working last minute in the middle of the night, so you're not causing yourself this kind of anxiety again. And for the love of god, have mercy on your professors and stop writing sentences that are 62 words long. 

Okay ,
I know you're going to get mad at me for another asking another question, but this is my last question ( I promise for real, this is my last one)
and it's a relatively short question, and this will be my LAST QUESTION before I quit this forum for good  , and I want to ask this for the benefit of my learning experience

ermm , in the worst case scenario, let's say that I actually DID end up plagiarizing half of a 72 word sentence  
(36 words from this sentence were plagiarized) within an undergraduate paper (for a 4th year undergrad course)
because I was sleepy pulling an all-nighter

now, my university policy says that profs MUST  report any plagiarism, no matter how severe, even if it's just A SINGLE sentence (and I assume this policy holds true for every university, since universities takes academics very seriously, according to my knowledge)

Would a professor ever be morally inclined to PRETEND that this one single plagiarized sentence NEVER happened, even though my university policy says that professors must report any cases of plagiarism, no matter how severe it is, even if it's just one sentence?


 

Edited by punctiliousdog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, punctiliousdog said:

now, my university policy says that profs must report any plagiarism, no matter how severe, even if it's just one sentence (and I assume this policy holds true for every university, since universities takes academics very seriously)

Actually, not every university has the policy like yours ("report any plagiarism no matter how severe"). Many schools, including my previous ones, believe that this zero-tolerance approach just encourages people to hide plagiarism much worse than your hypothetical case since the consequences are so severe and usually not proportional to the severity of plagiarism. This suggests that many profs will probably not report cases like yours if they come across it. So the answer to your final question is yes, I am willing to bet many profs won't report what you have described because they will probably make the determination themselves that it is not an issue.

(Also, you should not assume that the professors of a university actually knows all of the relevant policies that govern them. I'm not saying this is a good thing or an ideal situation, but it's the truth.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^This. They may not report it. Or they may report it, and it goes to the Dean of Students or similar and then nothing happens. The reason for this kind of policy is often to make sure that students don't get away with serial behavior like this, where it happens once in each class and if it's not reported to some central body, the Prof has no way of knowing that it's not just an isolated incident but instead a pattern. If this is a first offense and it's this tiny, even if it were reported -- again, for the 1000th time -- it's highly unlikely to have any serious consequences. So for the love of god, relax, and don't write 72 word long sentences to begin with. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.