Is Citing a Source Incorrectly Plagiarism?

There are lots of ways you can plagiarize deliberately. When you do, people will likely say you deserve whatever punishments you receive. But what if it was unintentional. There are more ways to plagiarize in an unintentional manner.

In this article, we answer is citing a source incorrectly plagiarism?

assorted-title of books piled in the shelves
Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

How Is Citing a Source Incorrectly Viewed?

This is dependent on the circumstances involved. An instructor has the option of reducing the grade if one uses the incorrect citation standard. It won’t be plagiarism.

This is because the source is fully cited. It’s just in the wrong location. Instructors have a choice on this.

They can choose to go easy on the student if there was no demonstrable attempt to plagiarize. In this case, a student may need to attend a remedial course on citing work properly.

Notice this is up to the lecturer and the institution.

There are others who believe that all plagiarism should be punished. If you are unlucky, your instructor and your school can institute disciplinary action. This may happen even if you did not mean to plagiarize.

Such action could include probation or expulsion.

Why Some People Want All Plagiarism Punished

One reason is that offenders who deliberately meant to plagiarize could claim innocence. If this happens, the plagiarizer could claim to be innocent. What’s more, the individual who reported the act could find themselves facing disciplinary action.

However, these people may be found out if there is an established pattern of this happening to them often.

Why Some People Believe Plagiarism Should Be Considered on a Case by Case Basis

Some people could be dishonest when they report a claim of plagiarism. In fact this is a primary reason for why plagiarism should be considered on a case by case basis.

Academia is very competitive, both for students and professors. This means sabotage is not uncommon.

You should be very careful when reporting accusations of plagiarism. This is because of the damage it can do to someone’s reputation.

In a case of incorrectly citing sources, the smart thing might be to help the accused. It could be that they didn’t even realize they plagiarized.

You should remain neutral and not accuse the person of plagiarism. You should judge them based on their own merits and not on what you may have heard.

So when someone submits a paper citing sources incorrectly, 9 out of ten times, they should get the benefit of the doubt. This is because most people do not deliberately set out to plagiarize. They know the consequences.

To Wrap Up: Is Citing a Source Incorrectly Plagiarism

This is an issue with no absolute right or wrong way to go about things. There are of course a number of factors involved when it comes to what plagiarism is.

But it is important to weigh the factors involved and make a decision accordingly.

The last point mentioned in this article is what is most important when it comes to understanding this issue. Mistreating someone who has incorrectly quoted or used portion of information without citation constitutes a lack of trust in academic honesty.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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