Plagiarism in an Academic Setting

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To define plagiarism, the Oxford English Dictionary states that plagiarism is "the action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft" (Last, 2007). In the academic world it has been made clear that plagiarism is a crime. Students are introduced to the issues surrounding plagiarism in their first orientation. After the first class, they are reminded and warned about plagiarizing all the way through their academic career. When a student enrolls in a college or university they are given a code of conduct and a set of rules that have to be adhered to. Additionally, all students agree to the ethical values that come with the code of conduct. If a student does not adhere to the code of conduct the rules state what the price to be paid is for each penalty. In fact, the penalty for plagiarism can be as high as being expelled from the school with a failing grade. This can ruin a student's academic career. Since we have covered the consequences of being caught plagiarizing, what are the consequences if the student is not caught? The consequences if not caught would be that the student will not be prepared for the career that they are training for and will probably continue plagiarizing other authors throughout their career. With the penalty of plagiarism being set so high, why would a student even attempt to plagiarize? Some students plagiarize without even realizing it, by writing what is thought to be their own ideas but actually writing almost word for word another authors ideas. Some students also think that since the information does not have a copyright that they are free to use it as they wish. The fact of the matter is that according to the article ‘plagiarism is cheating in any form.' "Any work created in the USA after Mar. 1989 is automatically protected by copyright, even if no copyright notice is attached [17 USC—102, 401, and 405]". This would include all website material, photographs, and any other work that has been created by someone else. Again, from the article, "academic dishonesty is not new and is certainly not dedicated to writing." Looking at plagiarism this way should help students to realize that it is their responsibility to be honest and to learn the information at hand. Two of the most common occurrence of plagiarism is found in our work projects and in classroom assignments as a direct word for word quote with the user failing to use a citation. This lack of understanding is part of the learning experience, all students start out not knowing what plagiarism is. However, understanding what plagiarism is does not fix the issue of avoiding plagiarism. Plagiarism can be the simple act of quoting a reference improperly or simply forgetting to reference a quote. Teachers start out slow in grade school teaching students the meaning of plagiarism and continue teaching students what plagiarism is throughout high school. Once a student has been taught the meaning of plagiarism, they must then be taught how to avoid plagiarism. Other reasons a student might plagiarize would be laziness or ethical dilemma. Laziness or more appropriately known as procrastination can cause a student to commit plagiarism. We have all had a run in with procrastination at one time or another. The way to avoid procrastination is by setting up a schedule and prioritizing in order of importance what needs to be accomplished every day. Students learn in school the importance of scheduling and the vital part that scheduling plays in the success of their education. So with all these barriers in place to stop plagiarism, why do we still see it? This would be ethical dilemma. "Michael Gunn, an English major at a British university, admits that he plagiarized throughout his academic career." (Chronicle, 2004). The university is threatening to recheck his grades and hold his diploma. Michael stated "he did not know that to cut and paste information he found on the...
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