With so much information available online, what's the likelihood that I would be caught plagiarising or cheating?
It is very likely that you would be caught. There are many web-based tools for checking the originality of someone's work. At UOIT, we use Turnitin.com. With more and more information being uploaded to the internet (including academic articles and student assignments), it is becoming more and more difficult to get away with even so much as improperly paraphrasing a few sentences from a source without being caught. Also, experienced professors can detect inconsistencies in student work, and they can ask for copies of your rough work at any time. You are obligated to give it to them in order to prove that your work is original and properly cited. Always keep copies of your research notes and rough essay drafts until after the end of the term.
If that's true then why would anybody even bother cheating or plagiarizing?
One of the most common excuses for plagiarism is ignorance (i.e.: "I didn't know how to paraphrase, reference, cite, etc." OR "I don't know how to write a proper academic paper!"). Another common claim is that the work was based on all their own ideas, and that any similarities between their work and someone else's is purely coincidental - which is very unlikely.
Here are a few other reasons:
- Poor time management
- Poor preparation/not prioritizing tasks adequately
- Not knowing how to study or take notes
- Pressure from parents to succeed or do well
- Fear of failure
- Overemphasis on grades
- Heavy workload/deadlines
- Having high levels of stress and other responsibilities
- Apparently unfair/strict professors and TAs
- The belief that everyone is cheating so there is increased competition for better grades
- Not understanding the criteria or lack of clarity about expectations
- Thinking it is possible to get away with it
- Difficulty with reading and writing, and weak understanding of instructions
- Not clearly understanding UOIT's academic rules for research, writing, and test-taking because you are an ESL, an international student, or from a different cultural background.
No matter how stressed or pressed for time you are, it is always better to do the best you can honestly, rather than relying on any form of cheating. When you do your own work, you will demonstrate strong ethics, improve valuable academic skills and build a solid foundation of knowledge for the future.