How to Prove You Didn't Plagiarize

How to Prove You Didn't Plagiarize

Published by on 2021-07-07 09:07:41

Plagiarism remains one of the most serious issues students might face during their studies. The consequences of passing a plagiarized paper to the professor might vary from receiving a low grade and having a tarnished reputation to expulsion from a college or university. 

But what if you didn’t copy any information but got a notification about writing an unoriginal paper? Turnitin says I plagiarized, but I didn't, is there any solution? What if the professor accused me of plagiarism? These are the most common questions of students who faced this serious issue. In this post, you will find all the necessary information about academic plagiarism detection and the ways to prevent it. What to do if your teacher thinks you plagiarized? We will give you the answer, too! 

What Tools Do Professors Use to Check Academic Papers? 

The most important thing every student should know is that professors check all academic papers they receive for uniqueness, with no exceptions. Therefore, if you truly plagiarized when completing your assignment, you have no chances to get an excellent grade. Moreover, if you were caught with this academic offense, it is better to honestly confess everything. Trying to tell lies will only make your situation worse. 

The most effective solution to come up with a fresh and unique paper is to check it yourself before passing it to the professor. This will take you just a few moments. By the way, most educators use Turnitin and Copyscape to make sure the papers delivered by students are original. You can easily use the same tools online to double-check your academic paper is top-notch. 

Plagiarism: Basic Definitions 

What are the examples of plagiarized writing? What phrases, sentences, and paragraphs are considered unoriginal? Here is the list of the examples you might be looking for:

  • paraphrasing an idea with no references;
  • copying and pasting sentences or paragraphs with no citing the author;
  • failure to cite a quoted source;
  • downloading a complete paper from the Internet and posing it as your own solution;
  • incorrect citations or their absence;
  • showing off the findings you’ve copied from a particular interview without quoting the source you’ve used. 


What Is the Difference Between Plagiarism and Copyright?

Every student has to know the difference between plagiarism and copyright. These two concepts are highly frowned upon when it comes to any academic writing assignment. Unfortunately, many students tend to have some elements of both of these violations in their works. Sometimes, such a thing happens due to a lack of understanding of common knowledge about these issues. Sometimes, though, those things are included on purpose, as an act of rebellion, discontent with the rules, or simple laziness. 

Yet, the use of one of these concepts comes with much more serious consequences than the other. Let’s see both plagiarism and copyright definitions to learn more about these concepts and their stand in academia. 


Copyright can be a rather broad concept that can concern many areas of work, from intellectual to art. Only things that have been confirmed in their authority can be copyrighted. Hence, in order to copyright something, that work must be subject to copyright. It has to be officially registered and owned by a legal or private face. For instance, you can’t copyright a photo from the Internet without any evidence of one’s authority. However, once that picture has a sign or a watermark, using it without permission can be a copyright violation. 

The misuse of copyright goes against the law. Here is how you can use it within the legal right: 

  • a person cannot use any work without the owner’s permission;
  • a person can’t distribute or share the work without permission;
  • a person can’t make copies of the work;
  • a person can’t publicly display the work without special permission.

Hence, this concept is properly guided by law, and the violation of those rights can lead to the law violation. 


Plagiarism is basically the fact of stealing something and pretending to be the sole author of the stolen piece. For example, a writer can copy ideas or entire paragraphs of writing and insert those in their own work, pretending to be the original author behind those thoughts. Hence, a writer does not acknowledge or admit that a piece of their work belongs to another author. Such behavior aims to take credit for someone else’s effort to create unique and interesting ideas. 

This phenomenon is an issue of ethics rather than law. However, in academia, such behavior is a subject of serious punishments. Plagiarism does little to nothing when it comes to quality education. It prevents students from working on their own ideas. It hampers students’ ability to work on their own flow of thought, develop personal ideas and new concepts. Instead, the use of someone else’s work gives these students an easy solution that doesn’t encourage much of the thought process or research. 

The Differences and Similarities

Both plagiarism and copywriting lie in the realm of ethics and law. Both those concepts are highly undesirable in the world of academics. No students can submit a paper that is full of either of those violations. Such works would be unethical and immoral for the very least. However, as you can see, one concept, plagiarism, is not just disapproved but strongly forbidden in any writing assignment. The presence of plagiarism in one’s work can lead to rather grave consequences, even including expulsion from a school. 

Also, if copyright can be an accidental act, plagiarism is always intentional, which makes this type of behavior much worse in the eyes of academic society. Another difference between these two concepts is that plagiarism steals ideas, which are not available for copyright. The latter can’t have a hold on ideas but on the execution of those ideas. Hence, the latter can be a matter of using actual pieces of work, such as a written piece, artwork, video, etc. The former, however, concerns only the ideas, whether those are expressed in a written form, visual interpretation, or else. 

It’s important to learn the differences between those two concepts as well as the sole definitions of both of them. Knowing these concepts will help students create unique, ethical, and original works that will express their own ideas, vision, and knowledge on the topic. 

Paraphrasing vs Plagiarism: What Is the Difference?

Imagine spending years building up your Instagram or TikTok profile to finally start making money only to find out someone is using your pics and videos for their own profit without citing you as the source. Would you be outraged? Would you want them to take down your original content? Would you enjoy your sponsors paying them?

In this scenario, you are a victim of digital plagiarism.

And if that’s not something you wish to experience, you should hold yourself to the same high standards, starting with your papers. So today, we talk about the subtle differences between plagiarism and paraphrasing. And they aren’t what you think!

Why Worry About the Difference Between Plagiarism and Paraphrasing?

If school officials can prove you’re guilty of plagiarism, the consequences may be dire:

  • in the worst-case scenario, you’ll get expelled from school;
  • you may lose course credit and have to retake the class;
  • plagiarism charges will go into your school record and ruin your reputation;
  • in the best-case scenario, you’ll have to redo the paper from scratch.

Paraphrasing, when done correctly, is perfectly acceptable by professors and school administration. You may even get praised for using interesting sources and summarizing complex concepts.

If you want to stay out of trouble, you need to use paraphrasing and steer clear of plagiarism, and we’ll tell you how!

What Is the Difference Between Plagiarism and Paraphrasing?

Plagiarism is a form of stealing. 

When you use another’s ideas or data without citing the source, you take credit for someone else’s work, just like in the example at the beginning of this post. However, intellectual property stealing can take on many forms, including:

  • copypasting sentences or passages without citing references;
  • retelling the author’s idea very close to the original text;
  • submitting a paper written for another class;
  • turning in a paper you download online.

The second point may seem surprising, as it looks exactly like paraphrasing. And that’s where most students get in trouble.

Let’s return to our original example: 

Say someone uses your photo with some editing and filters without giving you credit. That’s plagiarism.

But if they film a reaction to your video and provide a link to the original, that’s paraphrasing. 

Essentially, the difference lies in referencing the source while creating original text instead of copying another’s work with small changes. In addition, paraphrasing calls for summarization, analysis and synthesis skills. That’s why it is appropriate to use in school papers and is even encouraged by some professors as a crucial soft skill.

Now that you understand the core difference between the two, let's go over some examples to help you put your newfound knowledge into context.

Plagiarism vs Paraphrasing: How to Keep Your Papers Safe?

Imagine you have to write an essay on the pandemic crisis and want to include the information you’ve found in The New York Times article As Pandemic Recedes in U.S., Calls Are Growing for an Investigative Commission by Sheryl Gay Stolberg.

If you were to cite the article, the correct in-text citation would look like this:

According to Stolberg, “bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate, and have the backing of three former homeland security secretaries — two Republicans and a Democrat — as well as health groups and victims and their families.”

If you omit the journalist’s name and use the text as is, it’s plagiarism. However, if you shuffle the words around and replace some with synonyms, that’s still plagiarism:

The House and the Senate have introduced bipartisan bills that have the support of three ex homeland security secretaries (a Democrat and two Republicans), health groups, victims and their relatives.

But if you put your own spin to the passage, add new information or your opinion while preserving the core idea and citing the source, you’re paraphrasing correctly:

Despite the ongoing political tensions, both parties call for an investigation and are supported by coronavirus victims, their families, and NGOs (Stolberg).

Why We Cite

Regardless of your school’s preferred citation style, referencing the source is a major difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism. But why is it so important? While it’s tedious work, citation makes your paper better in many ways:

  1. By citing the source, you show professional or academic courtesy to the authors. It’s a sign of respect and gratitude for their hard work.
  2. Citing credible sources (not Wikipedia) gives weight to your arguments and makes your opinions more valuable if supported by reputable professionals or experts.
  3. By providing a list of references, you let your professors, fellow students, and other readers conduct follow-up research, making their lives easier and contributing to the academic community.

Avoid the Paraphrasing Trap

Now that you know the trick to correct paraphrasing, writing an essay seems like the easiest thing in the world. All you need is half a dozen credible sources, and you’re all set. Unfortunately, that kind of thinking won’t get you high grades. Your professors expect you to work your way through research and come up with original ideas or at least a decent analysis. Without your input, the paper will turn into a set of mismatched quotes and paraphrased passages. 

So how do you know when you’ve gone overboard?

We recommend highlighting all the quotes and paraphrased pieces with one color and your analysis and ideas with another. When you see your paper as a mix of blue and red (or any other combination), you can tell if it needs more work. While all professors have different expectations, most will want at least 50% of the paper’s text to be yours. If it looks like you’ve gone overboard with borrowing from other authors, cut out the redundant quotes or expand your analysis. 

And remember to stay within the word limit!

Stay on the paraphrasing side of borrowing the work of others, cite properly, and your profs will be happy.

How to Prove You Didn't Plagiarize: Step-by-Step Guide 

You will be amazed to discover that sometimes even the most diligent students need to solve this problem. This is called unintentional plagiarism. If you face such an unpleasant issue, you still can prove you’ve written your academic paper by yourself. So, here is what you need to do in this case.

Arrange a Meeting With Your Professor

The first thing you will need to do is to talk with the professor to clarify the issue. The reason is that plagiarism might be detected for a bunch of different reasons. For example, you might forget to cite several sources you’ve used when doing the research. This way, you can easily solve this issue. When you definitely know the roots of the problem, you can work out a solution. 

Ask for a Chance to Fix Your Issue

If you plagiarized accidentally, try to ask a professor to give you an opportunity to fix all your mistakes. You might also need to promise you will be more attentive in the future. In most cases, professors agree to give you a second chance to solve an issue. However, make sure to be extremely attentive with checking the originality of your future papers. Otherwise, your reputation might be badly damaged. 

Ask for the Oral Defense

Immediate oral defense remains one of the best alternatives to prove that you’ve written your paper by yourself. This way, you will need to come up with an advanced oral report about the topic of your academic assignment, point out the basic facts and examples you’ve mentioned in your writing, and convince the professor you didn’t copy the data from anyone else. 

Prepare Evidence and Point Out All the Sources

The most effective techniques in this step include collecting the drafts you’ve used during writing, showing off your notes, bookmarks, and outlines you’ve prepared when doing the research for your paper. What’s more, don’t forget to cite all the sources you’ve used since lack of sources is usually the main reason for being accused of plagiarism. After all, the chances are that the professor will trust you. 

How to Avoid Plagiarism

One of the most effective ways to avoid passing an unoriginal paper to the college or university professor is to check it beforehand. You can effortlessly find many utilities for advanced plagiarism check online. Feel free to use several solutions to make sure your paper is fresh and completely unique. If you have any doubts on whether your essay passes a plagiarism check, it is better to rewrite some paragraphs or add more unique facts to your paper. This way, you might avoid any originality issues and will not need to prove that your paper is unique. 

Another excellent way to help you forget about plagiarism and any other academic issues is to order papers online. Our expert writers are always ready to help you compose an original paper from scratch on any topic. We guarantee to deliver only unique and up-to-date papers to all our customers. Moreover, you can also ask the writer to provide a plagiarism report of your paper to make sure it is completely flawless and original. We are proud to offer premium quality services to all students and help them impress professors with no effort.