What happens if I get caught plagiarizing my paper?
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But I thought plagiarism just meant copying exact sentences and stuff like that!

Exactly copying words and phrases from books, etc., without putting them in parentheses is the most basic form of plagiarism, and it is the easiest type of plagiarism to catch.  But it's not the only form of plagiarism.  Read the information above!  Remember that unless it is a thought or idea that you came up with entirely on your own, you need to cite a source for it.

Will I get caught if I plagiarize?

Yes.  People who plagiarize are often surprised when they get caught, but they usually do.  Teachers and professors can tell when they are reading your writing, or the writing of a professional.

Funny story:  A student, we'll call him Jacob, plagiarized his paper from an online source.  The teacher could tell just by looking at the paper that it wasn't Jacob's original writing.  The teacher gave Jacob an F and told him it was because he had plagiarized.  Jacob denied it.  The teacher then asked Jacob to read the paper aloud to her.  Jacob could not correctly pronounce several of the words he'd used.  When the teacher asked Jacob to clarify and explain issues included in his paper, it was obvious that Jacob had no real idea what the paper was about.  Busted--and very easily.

The moral of the story is: Don't plagiarize.  Cite every bit of information in your paper.  Once you get over the hurdle of learning to write in-text citations, it will become as natural as riding a bike.

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