Messed up masters big time - options?

posted
28-Oct-18, 19:30
by LS932
Avatar for LS932
posted about 1 year ago
Hi everyone

I am currently halfway through a part-time masters degree and I've effed up big time. Long story short I'll be getting a 0 for my latest assignment as they found chunks to be plagiarised. My fault entirely, I know how serious it is and how stupid I've been but it's happened and I need advice.

I am currently seeking advice about appealing the decision to give me 0 instead of a capped mark but I am not holding out much hope. I have been depressed this past year but did not seek help and therefore it would just be my word which is obviously not good enough.

Anyways this means that if I continue getting the same standard of grades prior to this assignment, the highest grading I can hope to achieve is a pass (with the capped mark I have a chance of getting a merit). I was sailing through the degree up until this point. I had hopes of going on to do a PhD in a few years time after working but I'm assuming this is virtually impossible now? Who is going to want to take on a student who has plagiarised?

What advice can you give me? Is this more or less an academic career killer? or do I have options? Can I explain the situation to the supervisor?
posted
29-Oct-18, 10:14
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 1 year ago
Hi LS932,
I am sorry for what you have been through. I am not an expert in academia but I would like to show my support to you. We all make mistakes. You are not the only sinner in academia. There should be a rehab time also in academia.
posted
29-Oct-18, 10:24
edited about 15 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 1 year ago
That sounds brutal for one mistake. Life sometimes kicks you when you are already low. The secret is to always get back up and never let it keep you down.

Can you make any friends in the department like supervisors who will support you? Also might be worthy talking with the students union on the rules of this. I don't the exact details so can't help any further but humanizing the issue may be your best bet. Make it so that you are a person no just another cheater that they might feel empathy for.

Also about a PhD in future; if you get some years real world experience it will help in any application. Also your transcript will still show high achievement outside the 0, which you can sell as I did well except one mistake. I wish you all the best.
posted
29-Oct-18, 12:47
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 year ago
If you have deliberately plagiarised another person's work then I think a score of 0 is perfectly fair. To give you anything higher than that would be grossly unfair to other students who have not cheated and would send out a terrible message. Personally, if I was a member of academic staff I would press to have any student found guilty of cheating removed from the course altogether and TBH I think you are extremely fortunate not to suffer this. Yes, we all make mistakes and yes we all deserve a second chance but you need to be punished first, learn from it, and show remorse.
Playing the depression card in an appeal when that clearly didn't affect your decision would be bad form but it's your choice.

You will need to take the punishment on the chin and find a way to rebuild your career. A transcript of your grades is going to quite rightly raise questions with future employers. After all, if you are prepared to cheat to get a grade, what will you be prepared to do if you reach industry and face a situation where your career is at risk?

It's not clear to me that the consequences of what you have done have truly sunk in yet. I think you sound more disappointed about being caught.
posted
29-Oct-18, 14:12
by LS932
Avatar for LS932
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From pm133:
If you have deliberately plagiarised another person's work then I think a score of 0 is perfectly fair. To give you anything higher than that would be grossly unfair to other students who have not cheated and would send out a terrible message. Personally, if I was a member of academic staff I would press to have any student found guilty of cheating removed from the course altogether and TBH I think you are extremely fortunate not to suffer this. Yes, we all make mistakes and yes we all deserve a second chance but you need to be punished first, learn from it, and show remorse.
Playing the depression card in an appeal when that clearly didn't affect your decision would be bad form but it's your choice.

You will need to take the punishment on the chin and find a way to rebuild your career. A transcript of your grades is going to quite rightly raise questions with future employers. After all, if you are prepared to cheat to get a grade, what will you be prepared to do if you reach industry and face a situation where your career is at risk?

It's not clear to me that the consequences of what you have done have truly sunk in yet. I think you sound more disappointed about being caught.


I agree with you that I should be punished but I feel that my other work demonstrates that this is a blip. I have been in contact with the student union who say I should appeal. I have listed all the issues I have been facing this year and they think I have a case.

I am a bit offended that you think I am 'playing the depression card' as this is a serious issue for me and has impacted my life significantly. I do hope you never have to suffer from mental illness.
posted
29-Oct-18, 14:18
edited about 21 seconds later
by LS932
Avatar for LS932
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From eng77:
Hi LS932,
I am sorry for what you have been through. I am not an expert in academia but I would like to show my support to you. We all make mistakes. You are not the only sinner in academia. There should be a rehab time also in academia.


Thank you, it means a lot. I feel a bit 'dirty' at the moment but it was unintentional.
posted
29-Oct-18, 14:22
by LS932
Avatar for LS932
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From rewt:
That sounds brutal for one mistake. Life sometimes kicks you when you are already low. The secret is to always get back up and never let it keep you down.

Can you make any friends in the department like supervisors who will support you? Also might be worthy talking with the students union on the rules of this. I don't the exact details so can't help any further but humanizing the issue may be your best bet. Make it so that you are a person no just another cheater that they might feel empathy for.

Also about a PhD in future; if you get some years real world experience it will help in any application. Also your transcript will still show high achievement outside the 0, which you can sell as I did well except one mistake. I wish you all the best.


I feel like it is a suitable punishment for someone who has done this deliberately but it was entirely unintentional and I have had personal issues which led me to be lazy and sloppy. I have a GP appointment today to get onto the road to recovery.

I am a distance learner so forming bonds is a bit more tricky for me and yes I have sought advice from the SU. They are urging me to gather evidence and appeal although I do think my claim is weak. I cannot give a reason as to why I didn't get help in good time, other than the depression itself has made me lethargic and careless.

Is this something I should explain on applications? Or what until I am asked?
posted
29-Oct-18, 14:58
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 1 year ago
What concerns me most is that you claim not to have intentionally plagiarised. If this is really the truth, then you must be in the habit of cutting and pasting chunks of other people's work into your essays and changing a few words, thinking that's ok and this time you forgot to change anything. That is the only possible way your claim could be true. If I'm right, you need to stop. Everything you produce from now on will be scrutinised carefully and a second offence will probably mean you lose the degree. If you've got away with massive paraphrasing before, you probably won't going forward. So please be honest with yourself about any bad habits you've picked up and abandon them before you really do yourself damage.
posted
29-Oct-18, 15:06
by LS932
Avatar for LS932
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From bewildered:
What concerns me most is that you claim not to have intentionally plagiarised. If this is really the truth, then you must be in the habit of cutting and pasting chunks of other people's work into your essays and changing a few words, thinking that's ok and this time you forgot to change anything. That is the only possible way your claim could be true. If I'm right, you need to stop. Everything you produce from now on will be scrutinised carefully and a second offence will probably mean you lose the degree. If you've got away with massive paraphrasing before, you probably won't going forward. So please be honest with yourself about any bad habits you've picked up and abandon them before you really do yourself damage.


This is the thing, people are assuming I just copied and pasted. A second offence will not be happening.

And what do you mean 'do myself damage?' This is the first time in my entire academic career and I have reasons supported by the student union. If I lose the appeal they can't punish me further.
posted
29-Oct-18, 15:50
edited about 12 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 1 year ago
pm133, I completely agree that plagiarism should be punished heavily. But I also don't think 1 mistake in your 20s should affect your entire career. We have all done crazy stuff but unfortunately some mistakes are penalised far harsher than others. A more apt-solution is a capped mark that makes it obvious on a transcript that something happened but not a career killing mistake. Justice should include facilitation and not just penalties.

There was someone in my course who got a plagiarism content of 60% on his dissertation and won on appeal. The guy 100% cheated, his supervisor knew he cheated, we all knew he did it. But he went into the appeal with a half-plausible story (which his supervisor believed) and got told to resubmit a non-plagiarised dissertation. Granted he plagiarised the next dissertation as well and was kicked of the course. But he won that first appeal because he humanised himself and got his supervisor to help him.

Basically it looks bad for the university that someone failed and did plagiarism, it is far more convenient for the university that some other mistake happened. I am trusting LS932 that nothing untoward happened and this is a mistake, so supporting his/her case. I am not condoning plagiarism at all and think that there should be punishment appropriate to the degree of plagiarism.
posted
29-Oct-18, 18:35
by Cat123
Avatar for Cat123
posted about 1 year ago
I'm with pm133 on this. I've had depression for many years, I've never cheated and wouldn't ever think of doing so and I have never been lazy. If you were struggling due to health you had the option to tell someone before the assignment was due, this is likely how the University will see this. I once had to get an extension for an assignment during the final year of my undergrad studies. I didn't like having to do that but I couldn't have done my best otherwise. Universities do understand these issues. There are deadlines for letting them know about these matters though. If you've said nothing before now then mitigations may not be considered in respect of the assessments you've already completed. You say 'they found chunks to be plagiarised'. This is serious, integrity is vital in academia. I would advise you speak to an Advisor in your Students Union, and its sounds like you have done this. I think the best you can do now is learn from your mistake and get the help you need. unfortunately for any future applications where you need to provide a transcript it is likely to be a red flag, depending on how closely this is looked at. Maybe seek opinions among academics where you are about this if you can. I have encountered misunderstanding and stigma in respect of depression, especially in academia, so I am personally cautious about mentioning this now. I personally wouldn't mention this on an application, maybe at an interview if you feel comfortable to do so.
posted
29-Oct-18, 18:45
by LS932
Avatar for LS932
posted about 1 year ago
I have made an appointment with my GP and I am going to present my case in an appeal. I am doubtful this will be successful but it will at least show I tried and that I am not seeking help to rectify the situation.

I can understand how this may look to other people but I know how I felt and what happened and that's what's important to me at the moment. It's nice to hear that some of you would be sympathetic towards me but I understand why others wouldn't.

I can only hope that my other work will demonstrate that this is a blip in my life and hopefully look past it.
posted
29-Oct-18, 21:17
edited about 21 seconds later
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 1 year ago
Hi, LS932,

You made an awful decision to plagiarise and have been penalised for it. It is good that you repent and decide not to do it again.

Since they have awarded you 0, is it possible for you to retake that course instead of appealing? I doubt they would listen to your appeal since plagiarism is very frowned upon and they are doing this to set as example to deter others. Even if you can only get a max of pass the second time you take the course, it would still be better than the 0 you have now.
posted
30-Oct-18, 14:10
edited about 27 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From LS932:
Quote From pm133:
If you have deliberately plagiarised another person's work then I think a score of 0 is perfectly fair. To give you anything higher than that would be grossly unfair to other students who have not cheated and would send out a terrible message. Personally, if I was a member of academic staff I would press to have any student found guilty of c.


I agree with you that I should be punished but I feel that my other work demonstrates that this is a blip. I have been in contact with the student union who say I should appeal. I have listed all the issues I have been facing this year and they think I have a case.

I am a bit offended that you think I am 'playing the depression card' as this is a serious issue for me and has impacted my life significantly. I do hope you never have to suffer from mental illness.


You were the one who brought your depression into a discussion about appealing And now you are attempting to play the victim card.

I know about depression very well thank you. It's not a mitigating factor in what is a case of academic fraud. When you attempt to make that link you do a serious disservice to the credibility of others suffering from it.
posted
30-Oct-18, 14:21
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 year ago
rewt,

I have a lot of respect for you that you can still find it within you to trust someone who has admitted academic fraud and is trying to link that act to their depression through the appeal channels. For me, that's a red line.

As for ruining their whole career? I dont think that will end up happening. The uni will probably buckle for reasons which are nothing to do with protecting the credibility of academia. As for future employers, trust is a major thing. Break it and you could well be in trouble. These are the consequences of any form of fraud. Would you want to get on a plane where this person had been in sole charge of maintenance? Would you want this person in charge of your drug prescription? Would you place them in charge of your personal finances or accounts? These are questions all employers will reasonably ask themselves.

You talk about giving people second chances but the cold hard reality is that life is brutal. Nobody deserves anything and you will be competing for jobs with people like the original poster. Would you feel OK if someone like that cost you a job you wanted? If so, you are a much stronger person than I am and fair play to you. They wont spend a single second thinking about you though.

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