9 Reasons Why Students Plagiarize

After teaching for many years, many professors can tell when their student’s work is original or plagiarized. Sometimes, however, they make use of software like Copyleaks to check for plagiarism. Educators spend a lot of time teaching students the consequences of plagiarism, how to avoid it, and what to do when they need to reference someone else’s words. In this article, you will learn some of the reasons students plagiarize and some tips on preventing it.


Some students just don’t want to put in the effort required to write a good paper. They may be aware of how much effort goes into writing a paper that would earn them a good grade. Instead, they opt to piece together a paper that is a combination of facts, ideas, and quotes from other sources verbatim. In some cases, they will not even bother to cite the sources.

To combat this, a teacher can break down a complex task like poem analysis into milestones to be met. The student may be required to give you an outline, a bibliography, and a draft before handing in the final assignment. The initial takes are small enough not to be too overwhelming, and the final task becomes much easier to do.

Why Students Plagiarize


Some students are just sloppy. They know what is required and how they need to do it. They just choose not to and let the consequences be what they will be. This laissez-faire attitude towards life can be a symptom of apathy. One of the main ways to combat this is to teach your students to take pride in their work. To produce high-quality assignments every time as it becomes an excellent habit even when they are older. Alternatively, you could set consequences for plagiarism that would make writing a good paper the first time a better option compared to the consequences.


Some of your students will not put in the effort required to write a good paper because they are proud. Most of the time, the students will feel that they will not get caught. This belief may stem from the fact that they or someone they know may have gotten away with it in the past. While not everyone gets caught, the consequences of plagiarism should deter any of your students from doing it in the first place—some consequences like getting a zero or suspension work well.

Poor Time Management

You have probably been in the following situation. You were assigned a task and a deadline. The task looked easy enough, or you thought you had time. However, a few days or hours to the deadline, you had yet started to do the task. What do you do in such a situation? You do as much research as you can in a short time. You then hastily do the task. You may not even get the chance to go through the paper before handing it in.

A well-written assignment typically needs a few hours of dedicated time to get it right. You need to do your research (more of this up next), make an outline then write the paper. Afterward, you need to review the paper, edit it, and add citations before handing it in. The best way to handle such assignments is to start as early as possible and tackle it bit by bit. If that is not possible, you can always set a date dictating when you have to start that paper. The point is, if you learn to manage your time better, you are more likely to hand in well-written work than when it is done hastily at the last minute.

They Don’t Know How to Research

Researching is a task in itself. Thanks to how easy it is for people to publish things on the internet, you must be cautious to confirm your sources and their credibility. For the research part of the writing to go well, it may be necessary to have a notebook or notepad. You will find sources, check their credibility then note down a summary of the ideas presented. You will then note the source of the ideas alongside the notes you have made. This information can, later on, be integrated into one paper. You made a note of the sources to make writing the bibliography a walk in the park for you later.

They Are Still Learning

Teachers can attest to the fact that many students plagiarize most when they are starting to write long-form essays. They are still learning about plagiarism, summarizing, paraphrasing, and citing when writing their papers. For this reason, students tend to hand in papers with high levels of plagiarism in the beginning. As they get used to the writing standards and regulations, you are more likely to see a decline in plagiarism cases from your students. To avoid this, you can teach your students what is expected of them when writing their papers, any rules and their consequences, and associated skills like paraphrasing and summarizing. To ingrain these ideas, you can offer a refresher class every year that accommodates any changes in the citation rules.

Lack of Confidence

Writing is an art. It comes naturally for some people, while others struggle to piece their ideas together to form coherent, flowing arguments. Like most things, it gets better with practice. Many students plagiarize because they don’t feel that they can put their ideas down as succinctly as the author or source. Alternatively, they are not confident in their writing skills and are afraid that their work may not meet the set standards.

These students need to learn just to write. To express what they have found about the topic in their own words. One of the ways teachers catch students who plagiarize is that the plagiarized work does not match their voice. Teach your students to make an effort. You may be doing writing assignments for several years. As these students listen to their teachers’ feedback and implement it, they will most likely get better at expressing themselves and consequently gain more confidence in their writing skills.

Don’t Understand How to Cite

In some cases, the problem may not be that the student does not know what citing is. It may be that they don’t understand when and how to do it. Many students think that citing is important for quotes and facts. They are unaware, for example, that even if you paraphrase another person’s ideas, you are still plagiarizing their work if you do not give them credit. Students must understand what needs to be cited and how it needs to be cited.

They Want a Good Grade

This may sound like an idiotic excuse to do something wrong, but it is valid to some students. For example, your student has an assigned task that they want to work on. However, they have that dilemma where they think the author was much better at explaining than they are. They then proceed to paraphrase the author’s work alongside the ideas of other authors. The idea is that by bringing together these people’s work into one paper, there is a higher chance of succeeding than if they do their own work. They end up giving a paper that is a potpourri of unsynthesized ideas from good sources.

Such a student has good intentions, but they are still plagiarizing, particularly if they don’t cite their sources. Such a student will benefit from learning the consequences of plagiarizing. After all, they already want a good grade. All they need now is to learn how to write the paper as they should to get a good grade. Alternatively, they could write a sloppy paper and face the chance of failing the course or whatever consequences you have set. The choice is theirs.

Your student will most likely have a reason for why they plagiarized. The goal is to teach them to be independent thinkers who can research, synthesize information, and write an original paper that reflects what they have understood. It may take some time for your students to give you original work but stick to your guns. The goal is to get them used to the idea of writing papers in their own words while giving the sources the credit they deserve.

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