Alerting UCAS about accidental plagiarism

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estble
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I got my offers a year ago, I'm currently on a gap year and recently wanted to get more into writing and was re-watching some successful essay videos I had watched in the past to figure out what works and what doesn't. I decided to search through my past essays to read some of them out of curiosity and stumbled upon my personal statement. And as I was reading it, I got horrified as I just realized one super unique phrase (not whole sentence, about 12 words though... probably doesn't help much but the second part/half is easily concluded from first) that is included and one shorter more generic phrase (also not sentence) included in my PS are almost exactly the same as one person's phrases in their essay from one video!! (though the phrases appear in different order)

I messed up... I keep a list of clever phrases I've found and a separate one for the phrases I've thought of, and I think that when I was watching that video a year ago to get a general idea about essays, I messed up and accidentally noted down that unique phrase into the wrong list... Later, it might even have been that I didn't even look into those lists when writing my PS and remembered that unique phrase as it stuck in my mind... I should've checked more; I'm feeling so, so bad right now and don't know what to do. Obviously, even if it'd be reasonable to use someone's phrase in my PS, I should've quoted and cited it! This is eating me up so much now, I feel so worried that UCAS Similarity Detection will flag my PS as plagiarized and my firm offer will be revoked.

What should I do? Should I write to UCAS telling them about this? Is it possible that my uni place will be revoked?
Last edited by estble; 1 month ago
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Phoenixfeather99
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It’s unlikely that ucas will have flagged your ps because everyone will hit plagerism markers somewhere because you’ll get a string of words in a certain order. There’s only so many ways to word something. I wouldn’t bother contacting ucas because it’s only 2 things and it wasn’t purposeful. You could also check on ucas as it tells you is similarity’s we’re detected, but from what I remember it only marks as plagiarism if the level is above a certain percentage of the PS.
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estble
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estble
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Phoenixfeather99 thanks for the reply! nope, I got no similarities on UCAS back then and still the same. Yeah, they flag it on 10%, often 2 similar sentences can trigger it from what I've read
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A Rolling Stone
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(Original post by estble)
I got my offers a year ago, I'm currently on a gap year and recently wanted to get more into writing and was re-watching some successful essay videos I had watched in the past to figure out what works and what doesn't. I decided to search through my past essays to read some of them out of curiosity and stumbled upon my personal statement. And as I was reading it, I got horrified as I just realized one super unique phrase (not whole sentence, about 12 words though... probably doesn't help much but the second part/half is easily concluded from first) that is included and one shorter more generic phrase (also not sentence) included in my PS are almost exactly the same as one person's phrases in their essay from one video!! (though the phrases appear in different order)

I messed up... I keep a list of clever phrases I've found and a separate one for the phrases I've thought of, and I think that when I was watching that video a year ago to get a general idea about essays, I messed up and accidentally noted down that unique phrase into the wrong list... Later, it might even have been that I didn't even look into those lists when writing my PS and remembered that unique phrase as it stuck in my mind... I should've checked more; I'm feeling so, so bad right now and don't know what to do. Obviously, even if it'd be reasonable to use someone's phrase in my PS, I should've quoted and cited it! This is eating me up so much now, I feel so worried that UCAS Similarity Detection will flag my PS as plagiarized and my firm offer will be revoked.

What should I do? Should I write to UCAS telling them about this? Is it possible that my uni place will be revoked?
you need to realise that UCAS and unis do employ humans as well as robots. if your PS is flagged up, a colleague will review it and decide whether you are trying to pass off someone else's work as your own, and are unlikely to fuss over a single sentence. remember, the things unis care about are, in the correct order:

1. your money
2. that you have the required grades for the course
3. the quality of your personal statement
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ajj2000
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You have you offer! I doubt anyone even has a copy of your statement anymore.
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Admit-One
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They would’ve completed a plagiarism check at the point that you originally submitted your application. You’ve got an offer, it’s irrelevant now.
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estble
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(Original post by ajj2000)
You have you offer! I doubt anyone even has a copy of your statement anymore.
Yeah, I agree with you on the first part. About the copy though, they do hahah. Every incoming PS is checked against all those in the database and it stays there

(Original post by Admit-One)
They would’ve completed a plagiarism check at the point that you originally submitted your application. You’ve got an offer, it’s irrelevant now.
It's true that they completed a check back then. Although, from what I've seen on a few posts, one or two people got a similarity detection alert even if they previously had no similarity, though a few weeks after their offers, not more.

Thanks for your input all you guys, calmed me down a bit!
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estble
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Would love to get PQ 's thoughts on this too. I'm still a bit worried it could get flagged even when I'm at uni
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ajj2000
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(Original post by estble)
Every incoming PS is checked against all those in the database and it stays there
Don't they get deleted for GDPR reasons?
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estble
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Don't they get deleted for GDPR reasons?
Now that you mentioned it, I think it could actually make sense, though I haven't noticed anything like that being mentioned. So far, info that all previously submitted statements stay indefinitely in the database has been the most prevalent from what I've seen.
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UCAS_Expert
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When a Personal Statement is flagged for similarity, UCAS send a copy of the report to the Universities with the similar parts highlighted. The Universities do not have to do anything with it. some don't care, some care more than others.

some will ask you to send a new one (which they then can't put through Similarity Detection), and some will just send you a letter advising you of the University's plagiarism policy and regulations that you'll have to adhere to if you study there.

These things are flagged very early, so if you have your offers and haven't heard anything you're probably good. It certainly will not be brought up once you're on the course in the future. it could be flagged later during the application cycle potentially if someone else submits a similar personal statement. But again, you are very unlikely to have an offer withdrawn unless that percentage is through the roof and obvious plagiarism has taken place.
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UCAS_Expert
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Don't they get deleted for GDPR reasons?
The Personal statements are appropriately secured at UCAS and are kept for a legitimate purpose and as part of a publicised policy, and so meet GDPR regulations.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by UCAS_Expert)
The Personal statements are appropriately secured at UCAS and are kept for a legitimate purpose and as part of a publicised policy, and so meet GDPR regulations.
Yes - but for what period of time? Once the application process has been completed doesn’t the legitimate purpose end?
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UCAS_Expert
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Yes - but for what period of time? Once the application process has been completed doesn’t the legitimate purpose end?
Not if the publicised purpose includes checking for fraudulent applications in future cycles.
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