Are you a teacher wondering why students plagiarize or a student trying to overcome plagiarism as a habit? This article is for you. Although often overlooked, plagiarism is a serious issue that students, teachers, and parents should pay more attention to. The reasons for plagiarism may differ from case to case, but no reason justifies the act. Throughout this article, we will review everything you should know about plagiarism and how you can overcome it. Read on to find out more.
What Exactly is Plagiarism?
Simply put, plagiarism is the act of passing someone’s idea off as yours. It typically involves representing another author’s thoughts, language, expressions, or idea as one’s original work. When looked at from an educational context, you’ll find different definitions representing the belief of various institutions.
Plagiarism is generally considered a violation of academic integrity. Journalists also see it as a breach of journalism ethics. Most laws stipulate specific penalties as punishment for plagiarism. Penalties may include suspension, expulsion, fines, or incarceration. Over time, several ‘extreme plagiarism’ cases have been reported in the academic world.
A court often decides the definition of plagiarism and its accompanying punishments based on existing copyright laws. The academic world sees plagiarism as a very serious ethical offense. Copyright infringement and plagiarism are significantly similar in scope, but they are not the same. Let’s also mention that plagiarism differs across countries. While it is a severe crime in some countries, it is merely a mistake worth overlooking in other countries. This is why some students may find the transition difficult when moving across two countries that are distinct in ideologies.
What Happens if a Student Plagiarizes?
Like many other ethical offenses, plagiarism comes with its consequences. However, consequences may vary depending on many factors. The severity of infraction may be the most significant determinant of plagiarism-consequence, although different locations may have different definitions of plagiarism. Here, let’s review some of the most common consequences of plagiarism.
Destruction of Students Reputation
Nothing kills the academic reputation of any student as quickly as plagiarism. If found guilty, plagiarism can lead to the immediate suspension or expulsion of a student, irrespective of educational level attained. In addition to these initial offenses, plagiarism can also spoil your academic records. The reflection of this ethical offense on academic records can lead to the temporal or permanent barring of the plagiarist from entering another college or high school. No educational institution would want to take plagiarism lightly, and that’s why most of them set up academic integrity committees in charge of policing students.
Destruction of All Professional Reputation
This consequence directly affects politicians, professional business persons, and public figures. This set of people may find the consequence of plagiarism following them throughout their career. Apart from being fired or asked to step down from their present positions, plagiarists in this category may find it extremely difficult to land another respectable job.
Destruction of Academic Reputation
It’s a known fact that the world of academia doesn’t take plagiarism lightly. Therefore, any known case of plagiarism gets widely reported. Once accused of plagiarism, the whole academic world gets informed. So you can say goodbye to your academic reputation. Losing the ability to publish in academia most likely means the end of your career. Nobody wants this, and that’s why most people working in this field would run as far as possible from any incident that may implicate them.
It goes without saying that you’ll spend huge sums of money while pursuing a plagiarism case. Beyond that, however, plagiarists typically get a monetary fine when convicted by a court of law. Over time, we’ve seen several articles and news reports exposing plagiarism by authors, journalists, researchers, and public figures. Most times, the original authors of the plagiarised content pursue the case legally. In such cases, the plagiarist may be granted monetary restitution.
The legal repercussions of plagiarism can be quite severe. The law guiding copyright is absolute, and as expected, one cannot use another person’s material without referencing or citing the original material. An author may decide to sue a plagiarist. Depending on the offender’s location and the severity of the offense, a court may tag a plagiarism case as a criminal offense with a potential prison sentence. Authors, journalists, and other people whose profession requires them to write are more prone to plagiarism issues. This is why writers are often advised to be always vigilant to avoid offending.
How to Know if You Plagiarized?
It’s usually very obvious, so you’ll easily know if you’ve plagiarized. However, if you are reading someone’s article and want to see if they’ve plagiarized, you’ll need to take conscious steps to find out if they’ve plagiarized. Thankfully, there are several ways to find out if someone is plagiarizing. Several websites and programs exist today to help you do that. You’ll probably just need to type in a portion of the article into a plagiarism checker to see if the words appear elsewhere. If they do, then there’s a huge probability that the author has plagiarized the article.
Another way to detect plagiarism is to check for consistency. Although this method would not always be 100% correct, it still helps to know if an article is plagiarized.
For instance, if the first page of a student’s paper is filled with ramblings and redundant sentences. Only for them to change pace on the second page and start going straight to the point, there’s a huge probability that they’ve lifted the second page from somewhere. However, this is not always a good indicator considering that several factors might have caused the switch in languages. Therefore, your best shot at detecting plagiarism is with plagiarism checkers.
What are the Causes of Plagiarism to Students?
The first place to start when dealing with plagiarism is to understand the causes of plagiarism. Hence, the question, “why do people plagiarize?” Here is a breakdown of some of the most common reasons why people plagiarize.
They are lazy
One of the most common reasons behind plagiarism is laziness. Teachers often report of students who prefer waiting for other students to finish their research works and assignments so that they can copy. This may seem like the easy way out of assignments, but you are not helping yourself as it mostly backfires in the long run.
Another reason for most cases of plagiarism is panic. Some students and even professionals will intentionally plagiarize when pushed into high-pressure situations, especially when the risk of being caught is considerably low. Most times, this behavior is caused by a lack of basic organization skills and poor time management. People face these situations when they are new to a particular kind of work. Your inability to organize yourself when faced with unfamiliar works may lead to unrealistic expectations. Therefore, you won’t invest the needed work until the process.
Lack of confidence
Students always have some sort of inferiority complex when researching the works of prominent authors and experts. There’s always the thought that “the author says it better than me.” Even the most confident students would often get the temptation to borrow the author’s words because it feels better for them. This is why teachers encourage students to tell their stories by themselves because it helps them develop confidence in their use of words.
Not understanding the need to cite facts, ideas, and figures
Citation is one aspect of writing that many people are yet to understand. We’ve seen cases where students think that merely adding quotation marks is enough. Beyond the quotation marks, you’ll need to cite the source of your facts and figures. If citations were not necessary, the authors of your favorite textbooks wouldn’t have gone the extra to include citations for every quotation included in your paper.
Tips on How to Prevent Plagiarism for Students
Gathering all the information you’ll need for your paper or assignment is not easy. However, it doesn’t mean that you should plagiarize. Firstly, you’ll need to realize that being original comes with several benefits, while plagiarism comes with negative consequences. Thankfully, you can avoid plagiarism if you want to. Here are useful tips that can help you get over plagiarism at any level.
The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to gather your facts and do your research. Many plagiarism cases are a result of the authors rushing to meet up with the submission deadline. Taking out sufficient time to plan your research would help you pay attention to your content. It’s a known fact that pressure limits creativity. Therefore, if you want enough creativity to create unique content and avoid unnecessary mistakes, you should avoid unnecessary last-minute rushes.
Although often overlooked, a citation is an essential part of writing. Whether your writing is academic or not, you’ll need to learn how to cite. Bear in mind that it’s not just about citing your sources, but about doing it correctly. Citation standards may differ across different fields. Therefore, you’ll need to know the standards for the paper you are working on and apply them correctly. You don’t want to get it wrong while trying to do the right thing.
Proofreading is one skill every writer must master. This skill does not only help with grammar check; it also helps in checking plagiarism. Even the best article writers fall into mistakes once in a while, and it’s while proofreading that you’ll find these mistakes. If for any reason, you’ve directly added a part of your research source to your work without proper citation, proofreading will reveal it to you. Thankfully, proofreading is not so difficult, and it doesn’t take too much time, so you can always do it after every work.
The internet is also a source
One mistake that too many people make is to lift information off the internet directly. The fact that you found information on the internet and not in a book doesn’t mean that you should use the information without citing it. That information you see on the internet is someone’s original works too. Therefore, you’ll also need to cite or reference the online sources you use to avoid plagiarism.
Use a plagiarism checker
Most academic institutions use plagiarism checkers to detect plagiarism in student papers. The technology is designed to compare the content of your documents with millions of websites and publications. It then highlights parts of your document that looks too familiar with other texts.
If you are not sure about your paper’s uniqueness, you can use a plagiarism checker to check before submitting your paper. This way, you’ll be able to identify parts that you’ve probably lifted but forgot to use quotation marks or correct citations. Today, there are several paid and free plagiarism checkers available. You can choose any one and use it.
Wrapping Things Up: Why Do Students Plagiarize?
There you have it, a detailed look into why students may choose to plagiarize. By now, you know that students choose to plagiarize for several reasons ranging from a genuine lack of knowledge to many other dishonorable intentions. However, students must realize that no reason is accepted as far as plagiarism is concerned, and there are consequences for plagiarism. This article also contains tips that you can incorporate to help you avoid plagiarism.