Literature has been the main source of knowledge and somewhat entertainment. The moment we wish to increase our knowledge or want to refresh ourselves we refer to some sort of literature and get entertained. Still sometimes such type of activity itself faces some, so to say, misuse, and thus it might be necessary to understand the problem and find solutions to the issue accordingly. Plagiarism has become one of such literary “misuses”, facing severe criticism all around the scientific world. The problem needs to be thoroughly investigated, and certain steps and measures should be taken accordingly. Before going further, firstly we will have to understand the meaning of this phenomena and after that take into consideration its causes and preventive measures.
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Definition of Plagiarism
Trying to define “plagiarism”, one can definitely say that it simply means copying someone else’s ideas, or borrowing work of another individual. Still it is a deal more serious than just copying and borrowing.
Plagiarism includes stealing and presenting ideas of another person as one’s own. It also includes the use of inventions, results of physical or mental activity of other people without giving them credits. Presenting somebody else’s existing idea or product as one’s own original one is also defined as “plagiarism”. (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 ).
Putting shortly, stealing another person’s work and lying about it afterwards is Plagiarism. (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 3 ).
According to the US law, “recorded expression of original ideas is considered to be an intellectual property, and, thus, should be protected by copyright law. Any form of recorded expression fall under copyright protection.” (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 4 ).
Plagiarism can be avoided simply by acknowledging that it is a borrowed idea, and in this case one should indicate the source the idea comes from. (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 6 ).
How to Prevent Plagiarism?
The most important step to prevent plagiarism is to understand the reasons for doing so. One should clearly understand different forms of Plagiarism and be aware of how to use preventive techniques. (Plagiarism in the Digital Age: Voices from the Front Lines: Para 2 / 1 ).
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Why Do Students Plagiarize?
Below one can find just several reasons for students to plagiarize:
- Deadline for submitting the project is approaching
- Assignment appears to be pretty vast and a lot of research needs to be conducted
- The line between plagiarism and research just gets confused.
(Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2,2 )
One of possible reasons for students to plagiarize is acting so in sake of showing off, to display their ingenuity. It resembles hackers attacking websites (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 3).
Searching or Researching
In today’s age of information and world wide web, with amount of information available multiplying day by day, modern students find it much easier to search and plagiarize another people’s work rather than conduct their own research on the given subject. (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 4).
Students should be taught the art of interpreting and analyzing information that they get, but not only interpret and analyze, they should know how to operate all that enormous amount of information available. (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 5)
Students get intimidated thinking their own work cannot compare to the quality of work available online. Some also feel lazy, thinking not to sweat over project that has already been done by an expert. (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 6)
Students should be motivated in developing their own individual style rather than using other person ideas. They should be promoted to form their own opinion and ideas about the subject. (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 7)
Making the Grade
Modern competitive world holds students under tremendous pressure that comes from various surroundings, e.g. family, peers, necessity to compete for scholarships, High school or University admissions and their own place in job market. In order to achieve this fast, students tend to focus on the final result of their project rather than learning precious skills of actual reaching the goal set. (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 8).
Students should realize that their grades will be of no use if they are not able to prove them by means of action. Improvement should be used as a factor for grading, as this can encourage would be graduates to try and develop their own style (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 9)
Everyone else is doing it
Students often justify their mischief deeds saying that they have to do it in order to meet all the requirements. More to the point, their senior friends have done it in the past. They feel that it’s better to copy something from the internet to get an essay graded A rather than put several hours of work and risk mediocre grades (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 10)
It is quite a common case, when students put off their projects until the last minute, leaving almost no time for their own original work. One cannot be a perfect judge to himself and his time, very seldom students come to recognize to the full amount the scarcity of time and plenty of work involved to reach the final goal and complete the project (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 11)
Very often tutors ask students to present some kinds of outlines, reference pages or even annotated bibliographies, thesis statements or drafts on specific dates before the final copy is due. All this is aimed at helping students to realize and have a sober view on the amount of work involved. As a result, would be professionals learn to organize their time properly (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 12).
Cases of unintentional plagiarism may happen with even the most experienced and proficient writers when it comes to attempts to correct others’ work without having any apt authority.
There could be many reasons for this plagiarism issue
Citation confusion might take place when writer ignores the proper form of citation style chosen (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 1).
Plagiarism could be misunderstood when question concerns paraphrasing. While putting all efforts to make their work ground-breaking, students change the wording to such an extend that they face another problem, since it becomes difficult to comprehend whether they are paraphrasing or plagiarizing (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2). Discussing and explaining differences between paraphrasing and plagiarizing, one can solve this problem and might be able to help students in developing their own ideas regarding both notions. Basically, it is stylistic devices and grammar structure, but not the original idea, that has to be changed in the original message (we mean the one that may be related to their argument) that needs to be converted. (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2).
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It happens that students mix their own ideas and those taken from other sources, consequently possible cases of confusion and misunderstanding, read “unintentional plagiarism”, occur, while attempting to compile these notes (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 3). Explaining students the importance of being careful while taking notes about the sources can help them a lot. Due to plenty of information easily available on the internet, students sometimes face difficulty of telling the difference between common knowledge and original ideas, those which are scholarly property of other writers. Sometimes, students are not fully aware of their actual assignment since they do not understand the proper use of research they have to do. The first thing that might come to their mind is that they have to take ideas from other sources and complete their assignment. Students should be guided that they do not have just to present somebody else’s ideas, rather they have to follow a degree of innovative thoughts. Presenting interest in their own ideas will certainly help them understand the actual requirement of the assignment given (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 3).
Deeper Issues of Plagiarism
When anyone uses another writer’s ideas without giving him or her any credit, he/she actually goes against more than ethics. This stealing is in fact a scholarly infringement (Meagher Para 1).
Those, who steal the content from the scholarly property of other writers, bring quite a lot of mischief (Meagher Para 2). It is a very big issue since any creative work of a writer is his personal property (Meagher Para 2).
Reusing work of any other writer in a careless manner and without giving any credit to that particular writer’s work, is truly showing disrespect to that writer and demonstrating unethical behavior. It simply shows that bloggers or other writers, who are willing to take the credit themselves without showing respect to the writer who has actually lost his scholarly property, do not have any sense of right and they prove themselves to be dishonest people (Meagher Para 3).
According to David McCaldin, “masquerading another person’s work as one’s own is an intellectual transgression and is one the lowest forms of scholarship” (Meagher Para 4). All those writers face inability to present their own individual creative expressions and they fall as low as creating such type of content, which in fact appears to be property of other writers (Meagher Para 4).
Plagiarists are like Literary Kleptomaniacs (Meagher Para 5). Meagher (Para 5) states that David McCaldin quoted an article which was written by Peter Shaw, “The Chairman of the National Association of Scholars”. In his article, “Plagiary”, Shaw has put a Plagiarist side by side to a kleptomaniac. According to Shaw, though the stealing of the material is done consciously, yet there is an excitement related to the possibility of getting caught (Meagher Para 5). Now, comparing the case to kleptomaniac, the plagiarist does not require what he actually steals (Meagher Para 5).
Any writer has the ability to express his/her own ideas in a different and his own way. Still, the plagiarist puts the honor and ethics aside and illegally possesses the content and consciously re-publishes sources which he has taken for his own by corrupt means (Meagher, Para 6). Meagher (Para 6) says that according to Victoria Stankard’s article which is published on Getfoundnow.com:
Duplicate content is a head issue when web content has been stolen or plagiarized from one website and published on another…or ripped off word for word on someone else’s website without permission or without any kind of back link or reference as to where the content came from (Meagher Para 6).
Do writers have power that gives them permission to take anyone else’s content which they want?
This statement actually helps us understand the reason that the web writers have. The crime of plagiarism could be united more with regards to a stress-free moral code, less ethical standards and the conviction that the veracity is not for Cyberspace. The shortage of respect and honesty, when dealing with others, is related to the sense of a privilege that has gone forward in the generations (Meagher Para 7). In this era of commercialism, ideas like getting material goods comfortably and receiving quick satisfaction are provoking people to get whatever they want and that is why they are doing that (Meagher Para 7).
Cultural Perspectives on Plagiarism
Every culture does not have the same opinion on plagiarism (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2, 20). Students may find it difficult to differentiate between individual and public property as defined by different cultures. This should be discussed and explained from the students’ point of view (Plagiarism in the Digital Age Para 2 / 20).
Is plagiarism a serious Offense?
Plagiarism, of course, is a serious crime. It is the act of copying someone else’s views, thoughts and work. It includes changing of words, paraphrasing or copying the whole text.Thus, plagiarism is an unethical and illegal act which may call for various kinds of punishments (Hall Para 1).
Plagiarism is a criminal offence, and a person practicing it can be fined or put in prison. It’s unethical to use someone else’s hard work without giving him credit. It is very important that children at the earliest stage should become aware of the fact that plagiarizing will not only hamper their development as an independent thinker, but also encourage them to feel inferior to others. If they understand what plagiarism is, they may discard it and prevent others also from practicing it as well (Hall Para 2).
It violates the spirit of the aim of DePauw University “to demonstrate integrity and honesty…….in academic work. It’s ethically wrong and leads to severe sanctions from the University. Moreover, it promotes passive, rote learning process that makes the process of education very slow and ineffective” (Appleby Para 1).
Recently it has been informed that the University of the Philippines College of Law terminated professor Marvic M.V.F. Leonen from his post after he was found to be involved in a serious instance of plagiarism (Dedace Para 2).
As conclusion, we would like to say that plagiarism is definitely a crime which not only affects the person whose work is being plagiarized, but also people practicing it.It makes plagiarism to be an ethical, as well as legal crime (Appleby Para 2).
Appleby, D. C. “Plagiarism: What it is, Why it is Wrong, and How it can be Avoided”. Paper presented at Mid-America Conference for Teachers of Psychology, Evansville, IN. 1992. Web.
Dedace, Sophia M. “UP Law Dean Leonen Faces up to His Own Plagiarism Issue”. GMANews.TV. 2010. Web.
Hall, Mandi R. “Why is Plagiarism a Crime?” 2010. Web.
Meagher, Linda Sue.” Plagiarism is a symptom of a deeper Problem-Literary Kleptomania”. 2010. Web.
“Plagiarism in the Digital Age: Voices from the Front Lines: What’s Happening in High Schools Now?”. Plagiarism.org. Web.