What is plagiarism? As defined in the Merriam-Webster online, “plagiarism” is the act of stealing and passing off someone else’s ideas, as ones’ own without crediting the source. Brief or attributed quotes generally do not constitute plagiarism. (Dames, K, June 2007 p.24 (4). The word originated from the Latin word plagiarius that is an abductor and plagiare, which means to steal. The subject of Plagiarism is an ethical topic that has affected many areas of academic life. It can include limited borrowing without sufficient detail to the source. Plagiarism is breached when one uses another persons work and does not acknowledge that the work is not their own. Plagiarism is an extremely serious offence and is considered a “serious violation of the ethics of scholarship”1. In a quote from (The American Historical Association statement on Standards publication) “In addition to the harm that plagiarism does to the pursuit of truth, it can also be an offense against the literary rights of the original author and the property rights of the copywriter owner”. Students and sometimes faculty members in schools have been accused and in some cases, severely punished for committing plagiarism. Some of the accidental cases of plagiarism are in the use of quotations, paraphrases and summaries in compiling documents where the source not cited correctly. When plagiarism is an accident the punishment is sometimes as severe as the act that was intentional.
There have been many incidents of plagiarism in the academic field. According to an article, quoting UNESCO report on corruption on education continues to grow worldwide. (Labi, A. 2007) Some of the finding of the report state, “higher education in the United States is beset with ethical problems” (Labi, A. 2007). Academic fraud is so widespread that the problem is undermining the validity of American Degrees (Labi, A. 2007). The internet and World Wide Web have made plagiarism very simple. The copy and paste of someone else’s work is common. On the web there are many companies offering the services of completed papers. The availability of custom made papers have resulted in plagiarism not being detected. “truly customized research papers could be different if not impossible to detect through anti plagiarism software” (Embleton, K., 2007 June). A well publicized case that occurred in 2005was of the Wal-mart heiress Elizabeth Page Lauren who had paid her ex roommate Elena Martinez $20,000 to do three term papers and numerous homework assignment (Embleton, K, 2007 June). Ms. Lauren had to return her BA degree in communication after the information was revealed in 20/20 news magazine. Lecturers and students have been alleged for committing this act of fraud. In 2006 it was alleged that a group of 30 students in the mechanical engineering department of Ohio University plagiarized “substantial or core portions of their graduate theses” (K. Matthew Dames). The result of this allegation is that the students are forced to respond to the allegations or face the risk of their degrees being revoked. In this case the allegation has not yet been proved since there was a theory that the person who alleged that the act took place may have had other motives. Cases as this sometimes have many repercussions for both parties. The allegation of plagiarism can result is dismissal from a graduate program, terminations of employment, loss of creditability and legal action. On the last aspect, many of the allegations of academic plagiarism do not reach the level of legal action. A case that has had a great deal of public attention is the case concerning allegations of “Academic Misconduct” against Professor Ward Churchill by the University Of Colorado at Boulder. An investigation was conducted after national attention was focused on an essay written by where he likened “some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi leader”. (CBS News article). Professor Churchill is considered a very...
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