Plagiarism is a more serious problem today than many people realize. In our schools and colleges, students are finding more ingenious ways to plagiarize and produce work with large portions, if not an entire assignment, stolen from someone else. Pressure from parents and schools to achieve high grades create a stressful atmosphere that encourages students to cheat to get the best grades possible. There are web sites on the Internet that sell complete research papers and theses, but it is not uncommon for students to copy portions of work published on the Internet and in other places to make it appear they’ve done the work themselves.
When I entered college, much of my very first class was dedicated to explaining the meaning of the word plagiarism, and how it applied to us and our work in school. We were introduced to the subject of plagiarism and to the full extent of its use in today’s society. There were exams given so that our understanding of the subject could be measured. Some were new to the concept. Some could not even spell the word. But we all learned just how serious plagiarism is.
In a sentence, plagiarism is the theft of another author’s words, thoughts, lyrics, or ideas and used as one’s own without giving due credit to the author. It is serious business. Claims of accidental plagiarism are suspect in the classroom. Instructors today have methods of detecting this kind of cheating, and there are software programs available that pick up words, sentences, or entire paragraphs or pages that have been stolen. Many schools and universities are now using this software for the detection of plagiarism.
Understanding plagiarism and its hazards is important in the prevention of it in all its various forms. When students are knowledgeable about how to avoid it and the reasons to do so, there is much less need to detect it. Learning to cite sources of information properly in written assignments is vital to avoid even the appearance of plagiarism. Students must be able to show where they have obtained their information in a format that allows readers to access the same information.
While most students are conscientious about presenting their own original work once they understand plagiarism and the gravity of its consequences, there will always be a few who try to get away with using someone else’s hard work, and that makes education more difficult for honest students and their instructors.