students, especially those in colleges and universities often come across the term "plagiarism" and the need to be careful of not plagiarizing is often stressed. Plagiarism is an act of stealing or copying something that is not actually yours and not crediting the person who wrote it or came up with the idea. Although this may not be considered that serious an offence, it should be noted that plagiarism is a serious offence for which one can be sued in certain countries. Plagiarism includes literary theft where someone's writing; words, idea or product is copied and passed on without mentioning the source, citing the work and giving due credit to whoever wrote it. The American law states that anyone can be sued for plagiarism if the work they copied was copyrighted and serious action is taken in such instances (Foss, 2000). Some acts that may fall under the criteria of plagiarism are outlined below:
Submitting a piece of work with your own name which does not belong to you,
Copying someone else's ideas and words and not mentioning the source and giving credit to the original author,
Missing out the quotation marks when mentioning something that someone said or wrote,
Giving incorrect sources as citations,
Only changing the structure of the sentence but actually copying the words of someone else.
Plagiarism acts can be avoided if the proper citations are mentioned and the due credit is given to the author and the words are not exactly copied with the same sentence structure.
Why students feel the need to plagiarize?
Plagiarism is becoming increasingly common and it is very difficult to address with the Internet expanding to such an extent and the accessibility of knowledge increasing.
Often students find the short cut and an easier way out by just searching for something online and copying everything down without realizing the consequences of it. Most students do not even realize that this is a form of cheating, stealing as well as lying because it is the claiming of someone else's work and passing it on with your own name. The cost, time and other resources are trying to be saved when people plagiarize and find the easy way out. The issues of plagiarism are not just cited within the educational sector but also in the corporate sector where business documents and other such products are produced. Hence, plagiarism is ethically as well as lawfully wrong (Neville, 2009).
Let's highlight some of the reasons why plagiarism is becoming so common now. Firstly, students are not made aware of the possible implications of plagiarism which is why they end up engaging in it. In certain instances, the teacher does not necessarily go through every single paper which is why the plagiarism case goes unnoticed and gives students a chance to repeat the mistake. Laziness and the general carefree attitude of the students is also one of the reasons why plagiarism becomes common. The better grades and lesser effort give the students an incentive and a motivation to go through with the act again and again until it is penalized.
Intentional and Unintentional Plagiarism:
Now that the definition of plagiarism has been clearly discussed and there is a certain level of understanding of what is meant by plagiarism, it is also necessary to point out that the act of plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. Sometimes the student or the individual would be fully aware of the fact that they are copying something and it is included in plagiarism and they would still go ahead with it. Such an act will count under intentional plagiarism whereby the individual has a conscious awareness that the material being copied does not belong to him / her. Unintentional plagiarism occurs in cases where the individual may write something or come up with an idea that is already present but he or she is not aware of it. It may also happen if the material that has been used is not paraphrased properly and it contains words and phrases that can be identified as plagiarism. Sometimes a quote may be copied and even though the source and the author is credited, the whole chunk of data will count as plagiarism and it needs to be paraphrased. Such acts would be included under unintentional plagiarism.
Citations, Quoting, Paraphrasing:
When writing a report, a term paper, thesis or any other document which includes the words and ideas of someone else, it is essential to cite the source and the author so that it cannot be counted as plagiarism. There are different formats of citations, some of which are APA, MLA, Harvard and Chicago. The formats have different citation and referencing requirements such as including the year, the publication, book name, page numbers, etc. These citations give credit to the author who came up with the idea, words and writing that one is quoting (Howard, 1999). Some examples of improper citations would include for example, writing the first name of the author as a citation in an APA or MLA format. Under Harvard formatting, it is essential to mention the page number of a book or an article. Not mentioning that will count as incorrect referencing. For instance, this is the correct form of APA referencing:
Neville, Colin. 2009. The complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism. OpenUniversity Press.
An incorrect citation of the above source may look like this:
Colin Neville, 2009. Complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism.
Here it does not mention the publishers name and it has the author's first name mentioned which is an incorrect way.
Direct quoting is basically writing the exact words or quotes without making any alterations such as paraphrasing it. These are usually used when trying to prove a point in a document or giving necessary links to a topic being discussed that has already been discussed and written about previously. Although this is widely used, it should be noted that sometimes this may be counted under acts of plagiarism if the words are exactly the same and if the work has not been cited. Hence, direct quoting should be kept to a minimal level.
Paraphrasing is basically a summarization of what one has read or come across. It involves taking a certain idea about something and then writing it out in one's own words to avoid copying the information. It is all about reshaping and expressing the whole idea using different words. It is generally preferable that when writing any piece of writing where paraphrasing is involved, it should be paraphrased not line by line but instead as a whole paragraph or chunk of writing. Paraphrasing is encouraged in educational institutions so as to minimize the level of plagiarism that is involved and to teach the students how to write without making errors as well as adding their own input into it (Howard, 1999).
Over citing and under citing:
People often get confused as to how many citations are necessary in a paper. The answer to that is there is no fixed or ideal number of citations to put in a piece of writing. When penning down a thought or idea that may be borrowed from a source, it is essential to cite it. Usually a page should contain a minimum of two citations or according to the need depending on how much information has been borrowed from a website, article, book, blog or elsewhere. There is no need to over cite the paper because it does not necessarily help enhance a paper or make it any better. Similarly under citing is also something which should be avoided because a piece of information that has been borrowed needs to be cited and provided sources for.
Plagiarism is therefore an increasingly common phenomenon which needs to be eliminated and taken care…