Thursday, April 05, 2007

What is Plagiarism?

According to Wikipedia, plagiarism is “…the use of another person’s work… for personal advantage without proper acknowledgment of the original work with the intention of passing it off as your own.” Plagiarism is cheating, a fraud which is as unacceptable as stealing and lying. As such, it can carry a heavy penalty when a perpetrator is found to have plagiarized another person’s work. In many cases the avoidance of plagiarism is taught from the high school to college level so that students are used to the idea that this form of cheating is just like any other. The consequences can include failing grades, expulsion from school and even the revocation of a degree. Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. When a person intends to plagiarize, it can be done in many forms. They include copying work from already published material, paying someone to write the material (for non-business purposes where the buyer does not own the rights), or buying already completed materials; if there is no proper reference given to the author, and the intention is to pass the work as one’s own, it is plagiarism. It can also be done by copying someone else’s idea and not giving proper reference to that person in the completed work. Until recently most plagiarism required some research, or at least a trip to the library, but with the advent of easy internet access it is easy to locate and even buy documents. The penalty for intentional plagiarism tends to be the most severe, possibly leading to the revocation of a degree. Unintentional plagiarism is generally caused by ignorance of citation rules or a lax attitude in referencing work used to create a document. Most unintentional plagiarism is punishable to a lesser degree with having to rewrite submitted material, having to include original thoughts and ideas in the work to make it clear that the work has not been copied, or at least reworking the references so that the citation is corrected. Ignorance of the rules is not excuse enough to remove the fault from the plagiarizer. Plagiarism is morally wrong but there is no law against it. There have been many historical figures who have been found to have plagiarized important works, it is morally wrong and results in the plagiarizer’s writing ability being stunted. It is necessary, when writing, to formulate one’s own opinions and express them in an original manner even when the work has been researched and takes some information from a previous writer. As long as the reference is cited properly, any writer can avoid being accused of plagiarism and improve their writing ability by learning from (not copying) the examples of others. Works Cited Wikipedia. “What is Plagiarism?” Dec. 31, 2005. Accessed Dec. 31, 2005. Madison Area Technical College (Writing Center). “Avoiding Plagiarism” Accessed Dec. 31, 2005.

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