In an unfortunate turn of events, a student took to Quora to seek advice after their final essay was allegedly plagiarized word for word by a classmate they had never interacted with. With the professor questioning the integrity of their work, the student is now in search of effective ways to prove the originality of their essay and clear their name of any wrongdoing.

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Key Takeaways

  • With the popularity of online tools, plagiarism has become increasingly prevalent in academia. Students need to be aware of this issue and take steps to ensure the originality of their work.
  • Tools like metadata, document history, and revision history in Google Docs can help students prove the originality of their work.
  • When faced with plagiarism accusations, students should be prepared to explain their work thoroughly and demonstrate their understanding of the content. In collaborative projects, clear communication and accountability are key to preventing and addressing potential plagiarism issues.

Plagiarism has long been a contentious issue in the realm of academia, casting a shadow over the integrity and reputation of educational institutions. With the rise of digital technology and the ease of access to information, the prevalence of plagiarism has become a growing concern. Surveys reveal a staggering number of students admitting to cheating and plagiarizing during their academic careers. For instance, a survey conducted by FixGerald back in 2021 found that nearly half (48.6%) of the students surveyed confessed to cheating at least once, with 12.2% admitting to plagiarism in their academic work​. A more recent study presented by Forbes shows that around 53% of students admit to using AI technologies (ChatGPT to be specific) to write essays.

Considering the wide popularity of different online tools, it’s no wonder that the problem of plagiarism has become a widely spread issue. The consequences of such accusations though extend beyond mere academic dishonesty. They can severely impact a student’s future opportunities. Plagiarism can lead to disciplinary actions, including failing grades, suspension, or even expulsion. Moreover, it can tarnish a student’s reputation and jeopardize their chances of pursuing further education or career advancement.

However, while the issue of AI-driven plagiarism has gained significant attention, with tools and techniques being developed to detect and combat it, traditional forms of plagiarism, such as the one described in the recent Quora post, present a different challenge. In this case, a student’s essay was allegedly copied word for word by a peer, raising questions about proof of originality and academic integrity. This type of plagiarism poses a threat not only to the individual’s work but also to the trust and credibility within the academic community.

That’s why we decided to dig into the tips provided by Quorans that could help you protect and guard your original content. We also tried to find the most useful recommendations for those, who need to prove their innocence in case of plagiarism accusations (considering rather recent events these should be useful for basically anyone in academia and outside of it).

Teachers’ Strategies To Determine Whether The Work is Original or Plagiarised

Detecting and confronting plagiarism is a crucial task for educators to ensure academic integrity. One effective method is closely examining students’ work for inconsistencies or unusual similarities. For instance, a teacher noticed that two students submitted identical papers, even including the same typos, but one was missing a paragraph.

“I used to teach and I had two students turn in the same paper …. to the typos! I ended up knowing who was the cheater because one of them missed a paragraph that contained an example. (the following paragraph even said something like “ the example I just talked about ….”) I, however, knew what the example was and called them on it…. in any event, the cheater KEPT sticking to the story that he wrote it. So I showed him the paragraph about the example and asked him to tell me what the example was. He couldn’t. So I told him. Then I asked him how I knew the example on a paper he wrote. He couldn’t answer.”

Another approach is to look for unique styles in assignments, such as a distinctive coding style in a computer science class, which can help identify when a student’s work has been copied​.

“In High School I was in a Computer Science class…AND (this is important) I tended to have a unique style in programming assignments. So, when we had the final assignment, I finished it early,  when my friend Eli asked if I could help him. As I was really focused on my other assignment, I told him, sorry, I couldn’t help at the moment, but I left my code up on the PC. I was in school one day, post exams, and the teacher, Mr. R., asked to see me for a moment. He said he wanted to show me some code. I looked at it, and it looked very similar to mine, I was a little confused, and I answered “It looks like my code, but isn’t quite”. It was Eli’s code, and he had very faithfully reproduced my code, and only changed a few parts so it wasn’t an exact copy, but as my style was usually distinctive, Mr. R knew it was likely mine.”

Teachers can also use digital tools to detect plagiarism. For example, checking the metadata of a document can reveal when and where it was created, helping to establish the original author. Furthermore, oral interviews or quizzes based on the content of the assignment can be an effective way to determine if a student truly understands and has authored their work​.

“Tell the professor you are prepared to sit for an interview on the paper—its creation, what appears in the references and what you found of interest as you read those cited sources, problems you faced in writing and editing the piece, etc. It is at the professor’s discretion to create the plagiarism quiz. Have your paper in front of you, at the ready. If you have written it, you will know it well. You will be able to say, “I answered that at the bottom of page 3, then again on page 6. See in the third paragraph, page six, where I said {xyz}? I wanted to say y, but I was afraid it would just confuse the paper and add more questions than it would answer.” Or some such thing.”

Employing a combination of these strategies can help teachers better identify plagiarized content and maintain the integrity of academic work.

Proving Originality in the Digital Age

In the digital age, most academic assignments are completed using cloud services like Google Drive or Microsoft Office, or simply typed on computers and laptops. This shift to digital platforms has made it easier to track and verify the originality of students’ work.

One practical way students can prove their innocence in cases of plagiarism accusations is by utilizing metadata in their documents. Metadata can reveal the date and time a document was created and last edited, providing evidence of the work’s progression.

Student Accuses Peer of Plagiarism, Seeks Ways to Prove Originality of Their Own Essay

For instance, a student pointed out,

“Using the metadata on your essay, you should be able to prove that you actually worked on and wrote the paper from a certain date to a certain date. If the paper is plagiarized word-for-word, you should find that the edit history for your version of the essay starts earlier than the plagiarizer’s (this is logically certain – can’t copy something which doesn’t yet exist).”

Additionally, drafts and document history can further support a student’s claim to originality. Document history in platforms like Google Docs allows for a detailed view of the document’s evolution, showing that the student developed the work over time. Another student shared

“If you used Google Docs, then the revision history will show the time and date when the document was created. Print this off and give it to the professor.”

A screenshot of Version history in Google Docs
A screenshot of Version history in Google Docs (click to see a bigger image)

The digital age has certainly made it easier to track the activity and origin of academic work. With tools like metadata, drafts, and document history, students can efficiently prove the originality of their work and alleviate the stress associated with plagiarism accusations.

Dealing with Accusations and Collaborative Work

One thing you should be doing in the situation of possible plagiarism accusation is defending yourself. It is crucial to effectively address the situation and demonstrate their innocence. One of the key approaches in such cases is the ability to explain one’s work thoroughly. Being able to discuss the content, sources, and development process of the assignment can significantly strengthen a student’s defense. As one student shared,

“I simply said – Let’s do this – I will go down the hall and let him explain the work to you. I will come back and explain the work to you – I can guarantee my explanation will be better”​

In collaborative projects, the challenge of proving originality and dealing with plagiarism accusations becomes even more complex. Group members must ensure that all contributions are original and properly attributed. Yet, if it’s hard, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. One student recounted,

“One of my classmates was behaving very sketchy…Well, she completed the business plan in less than a day(which normally isn’t a problem but it was so intricate and long, I questioned whether or not she actually wrote it) well she confessed that she didn’t.  So as a group along with the professor, we explained the importance of not plagiarizing work”​

This situation highlights the need for clear communication and accountability within the group to prevent and address potential issues of plagiarism. Ultimately, defending oneself against plagiarism accusations is crucial not only for academic integrity but also for maintaining one’s reputation and future opportunities. Demonstrating a deep understanding of the work and being proactive in addressing concerns can make a significant difference in resolving such situations.


In today’s digital world, it’s more important than ever for you, as students, to keep your academic work safe and original. With so much information just a click away, it’s easy to accidentally cross the line into plagiarism. But don’t worry! There are cool tools and tricks out there to help you prove that your work is all yours.

One handy feature is Google Docs’ revision history. It’s like a time machine for your document, showing how your ideas developed and changed over time. If you ever need to prove that your work is original, this history can be your best friend. And if you’re looking for a creative way to show you know your stuff, try the fill-in-the-blank test. It’s a fun challenge where you fill in missing words from your text, proving you’re the brains behind the words​. So, as you go through your academic journey, remember that your integrity is key. Embrace these innovative tools to keep your work safe and sound, and you’ll be set for success.


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