Plagiarism, conventionally defined as literary theft, is the replication and stealing of the original ideas of another person without requesting for consent or crediting the author of a recorded or authored work (Heath, 2009, p. 4). It may take several forms, for example, presenting an idea as original even though it has been derived from an existing source, or even forgetting to put quotation marks when quoting a sentence from borrowed work. In as much as plagiarism is widely regarded as a bad practice, it is at times committed unintentionally. As a result, there is an anti-plagiarism policy in several academic institutions and heavy penalties are imposed on individuals involved in plagiarism.
Failing to acknowledge or recognize the author of the original work is a dishonorable practice. Students who plagiarize published work are seen to be too lazy to do their own research work and properly grasp the concepts they are researching. Others are used to waiting until the last hour to start their work, increasing the chances of copying information. Most students perceive reading, research as a waste of time, and consider some new information to be extremely difficult to understand (Heath, 2009, p. 5). Teachers and lecturers who entertain plagiarism produce students with outstanding grades but very poor knowledge and understanding in their field of study (Bahnot, Fallows & Fallows, 2005, p.173). Plagiarism normally makes an individual loose reliability and integrity in the eyes of the administration, hence getting leadership positions or institutional scholarships are out of the question.
Plagiarism is seen as a severe contravention of normal scholarly conduct, necessitating colleges and universities in the US and UK to establish either a pro-active or reactive anti-plagiarism policies in their institutions. Despite the fact that some do not have any clear-cut policies on plagiarism, several academic institutions are pouring considerable resources in effecting channels of combating breaches of copyright. The disciplinary committees of the institutions make judgments based on laws and policies, which bind the students and members of staff. Reactive technical solutions like plagiarism detection services on internet networks establish absence of plagiarism (Bahnot, Fallows & Fallows, 2005, p.173). Institutions implementing these policies use plagiarism-related website engines to crosscheck work presented by its students. The process involves the collection of the information, detection, confirmation and investigation of copying. Before introducing a policy to monitor plagiarism, an institution must compare the costs against the benefits incurred in the process. Pro-active policy requires students to sign a form before submitting their exams, stating that they have not stolen any persons work (Kirszner & Mandell, 2007, p. 482). Plagiarism policies have been publicized to the staff and students in many institutions to help curb the vice.
Penalties for plagiarism become more severe as a student advances in the academic ladder (Heath, 2009, p. 4). Students caught stealing and replicating other authors, ideas risk suspension or expulsion in many learning institutions in the US and the UK. Educational uprightness policies of some colleges and universities requires the offender’s results to be nullified, while some institutions give a special grade signifying plagiarized results (Heath, 2009, p. 4). The student may be forced to repeat the class or given a very low grade. Detected intentional plagiarism attracts a huger penalty than unintentional plagiarism in other institutions. A case of failing to quote a sentence will attract a lesser punishment than a whole paragraph, which has been cut and pasted from another source. Established institutions in the US and UK may revoke an awarded degree when plagiarism is later recognized.
Plagiarism is regarded as a fraudulent act, and the heavy penalties imposed on those caught are justifiable. Any work presented or submitted by a student has to be original work resulting from proper research, study and analysis of the topic of discussion. Stealing of published work is indeed a grave offense, which promotes laziness in students. Formulating laws and policies restricting plagiarism in schools is necessary to deter the vice. Sometimes students who copy information from the internet may receive a higher grade than those who have written their own work. This encourages plagiarism among most students forcing an urge of plagiarizing on the others in order to get better grades. Penalties imposed should be strict in order to promote the internalization of information by students. Some institutions, however, have not implemented any policy on plagiarism claiming that their students do not engage in dishonest practices.
There are many ways a student or a professional writer can present original work. The surest way of avoiding plagiarism is through citation and referencing of sources from borrowed information unless the information is based on universal knowledge. It is important to present work with sources, which can be easily accessed by those going through it. Having knowledge on the various forms, plagiarism is essential for any aspiring writer or serious scholars (Marsh, 2007, p.114). Students need to learn the skill of analysis and comprehension of information they come across, rather than copy pasting, which can be done by anyone accessing the internet. Writing should be seen as a process of learning which eventually equips one with the appropriate job skills.
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Marsh, B. (2007). plagiarism: alchemy and remedy in higher education.
New York, NY: SUNY press.