Plagiarism Question/Help


I got written up today for plagiarism in my graduate program (MSN). ​I always submit my papers to TurnItIn before submitting them to my professor. The only "dings" I get are student papers from a wide variety of other universities. I'm not sure what to do about those because I don't even have access to see them. However, my professor said that some of my work was taken word for word from other students' papers. Despite not having access to them or intending to plagiarize, it is still plagiarism. How do I prevent this in the future from happening? My school was unable to give me much guidance on the topic. I always cite appropriately, but I cannot predict when another student at another school used the same words in their paper. I can't even read their paper! I'm so frustrated. If I get busted again, I'll get dismissed from the program.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! ​


4,083 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 8 years experience.

When I submitted papers through Turn It In, the instructors would have a threshold as to percentage of similarity. It is impossible to have 100% original. You have citations and sentences that by coincidence are similar to your paper (there are only so many ways to state the same thing).


1 Article; 2,674 Posts

Specializes in ICU, LTACH, Internal Medicine. Has 10 years experience.

Looks like you guys both directly cited the same popular article.

What you need to do now is to get a meeting with the first or second person in your school's hierarchy ASAP. It is either 1) a honest human mistake of your professor, who did not check citations (TurnItIn has no option for it, so large direct citations need to be sorted out manually), or 2) malignant action (there are professors who will do it just for fun). Whatever the reason, the mark will stay in your academic record with potential to hurt your reputation to the end of your career.

Speak with your program director face to face and ask for investigation. If necessary, say the magic words of "immediate withdrawal", but there is a good possibility they will agree so that not to lose money.

For the future, avoid massive (over 2 sentences) direct citations, especially from popular sources like textbooks. Cite indirectly as much as possible. Use synonims, the more arcane and "GRE like-looking", the better. If possible, pass the first 10 articles from every search you do and use the rest. Avoid using others' reference lists as the source of your own literature search. If no other choice (like if you have to cite a good-sized piece of guideline or CDC document) email your professor BEFORE you submit the paper and formally ask for permission to do so, thus getting his/her attention to the subject.

Don't leave the issue to drop, it won't. Good luck!

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,261 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development. Has 18 years experience.

Does your school offer the opportunity to use TurnItIn for draft submission? Mine did, and our threshold was 10%. Then, you could find out what in your paper matches what else is out there before you turn it in officially. I actually found some resources that way for further papers on the same subject.