OMG UPDATE: Question? Answer.

Updated on Saturday, April 16


QUESTION: I'm currently under review for suspected plagiarism for a final paper. I misunderstood the formatting (being used to another form) and while I provided bracketed citations after every fact/statement/sentence and idea that required it AND provided a references page, I was under a time crunch and neglected to put in quotation marks.

My prof notified me of the situation over the phone but seemed determined to refer this to his superiors rather than settle it informally. To provide context, we were required to draw on class materials as well as outside sources and construct an original argument with it, which I did. The prof had no problem with the basis of the paper itself, rather that TurnItIn lit up like a christmas tree because of the lack of quotation marks.

Has anyone else out there faced a similar situation and what was the verdict / how did you proceed? I've been reading up on Policy 71 and am discouraged that even though it was an honest mistake, it will not matter in the eyes of the associate dean. Looking for honest feedback, advice and stories as I am unsure how seriously this offence might be taken and am a first time offender. Online trolls who want to call me stupid, I'll do you one better and already denounce myself as an idiot. I should've proofread and gone back to add quotation marks, and just risked taking the zero for it being submitted five minutes after midnight.


  1. You're fucked. Back your bags cause you're heading home. Lol but seriously, you'll be fine. The admin at the school aren't morons and are capable of exhibiting their own discretion based on circumstance. If, as you claim, you did not plagiarise anything and your mistake was completely innocent, then they will obviously take notice of that and determine their course of action accordingly.
    TL;Dr: if your story is true, you're fine.
    If your story is bullshit, you'll still probably be fine of its a first infraction. They're pretty lenient and you'll probably have a relatively minor punishment implemented.

  2. For a first infraction with no malicious intent? The most punishment you'll receive is a 0 for the assignment and a -5% in the course. You're not going to get kicked out.

  3. 2 minutes in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike misconduct

  4. Legitimate question, how does a time crunch prevent you from using quotation marks? Shouldn't those automatically go in any time you're quoting a source directly vs. paraphrasing where they aren't required?

    1. I'm thinking this too. It kind of seems like an obvious, second nature thing but I suppose that I'm used to MLA style and I'm not sure what others require.

  5. Sorry buddy, there's really no reasonable excuse that you can provide here. Turnitin flags content directly copied whether you use quotation marks or not, and if the thing "lit up like a christmas tree" its likely that this would have been flagged by your TA/Prof anyway. If its a first infraction you'll be fine with a penalty to your final mark/0 on the assignment. I would suggest taking some English classes or going to the writing center to learn how to write properly. You should almost never be copying sections of text from another persons work directly, as its unlikely they were talking about the exact topic and context that you are. Paraphrase, create linkages rather than copy large sections of text, and learn how to write properly so this wont happen again.