How to Avoid Being Accused of Plagiarism
by Owen Fourie
Broadly, to plagiarize is to present as your own the work of another. Plagiarism has increased with the availability of computers and the Internet.
In their report “The Digital Revolution and Higher Education,” on August 28, 2011, Pew Research Center stated that 89% of college presidents “believe that computers and the internet have played a major role in the increase in plagiarism on papers over the past decade.”
To maintain academic integrity and to avoid penalties ranging from a failing grade to expulsion from an academic institution, be sure to steer clear of plagiarism. It is a serious offense—a form of theft.
In your best interests, follow these guidelines for all your essays and college papers:
Always Do This
- Do your own research and your own writing.
- Respect the intellectual property rights of others.
- Acknowledge the source if you use an idea or any material (text, graphic) that is not your own.
- Acknowledge the source of any information that is not common knowledge.
- Cite your immediate sources.
Never Do This
- Include someone else’s verbatim text (no matter how small) in your work as though it were your own.
- Adapt someone else’s work by way of paraphrase or summary to make it appear as though it is your own thinking and writing. Even an acknowledgment of your source does not make this an innocent practice. Rather, make it plain: “Thomas has argued that …” or “as Thomas’s research has proved …”
- Use a fellow student’s work to present any part of it or the whole as your own.
- Use your own work previously prepared for a different course or purpose and present it as original work for a current assignment.
- Cite an original source if you have not read that source. If you mention that original source and you have not read it, you must mention that it is cited by the source you have read. “Jenkins (2010), cited by Thomas (2011).” In this example, you have not read Jenkins, but you have read Thomas.
Creative Fulfillment versus Plagiarism
I have had to deal with several cases of plagiarism by students. Even in the mildest of cases, it is an extremely unpleasant experience, not only for the student but also for the teacher who detects the misdeed.
There can be no substitute for doing your own work, being honest, and getting the satisfaction of creative fulfillment. Plagiarism robs three times: It robs the real author of due credit and then it robs the plagiarist of integrity and fulfillment.
Here is a text link to an item giving several real-world examples of plagiarism.
Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome. If you buy an essay that has been written for you and then you submit it as your own work, isn’t that plagiarism? If it isn’t, how would you justify your action?
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