5.3 If I am working in a group and someone else plagiarises or cheats, what happens to me?

I submitted a group project recently and just got an email saying that there is evidence of plagiarism in it. I am always really careful with my research and writing, but what if someone else in my group did something wrong? What will happen to me?

Well, you could be charged with plagiarism if no one in your group takes sole responsibility and says you weren't involved. You are responsible for any work submitted with your name on it. Therefore, if one of your group members decides to plagiarise, it will impact on the whole group. Unless the person who plagiarised comes forward and takes full responsibility, everyone could receive a sanction. It is really important for final versions of group projects to be submitted to TurnItIn (or another plagiarism detection system) before it is handed in.

When you start a project, make sure everyone in the group understands what academic integrity is and how to avoid plagiarism (or academic dishonesty in general). As you are working, if you notice that someone's contributions seems suspicious (for example, if the level of writing seems too sophisticated compared to previous work, if they haven't cited many sources, or if their sources don't match-up with what they're writing about), talk to your professor or TA.    

Depending on the circumstances, the offence could be considered either a major or lesser offence. You will either meet with the instructor or with an Academic Integrity Committee. Be prepared to provide as much information and evidence as you can about what you contributed to the project - keep good track of all your work as you do your research and writing.

What kind of evidence would prove that I did my own work?

When you do your research, keep good notes, either on paper or on your computer. When you are writing the essay or assignment, keep copies of the different versions or drafts (i.e., use 'save as' to save the different drafts and number them draft_1, draft_2, etc.).


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