- Academic Research and Writing Tips / Tutorial

What is Academic Plagiarism and Why Students Plagiarize?

"Ah, a little pasting from the website will never hurt. The teacher will never know where the information came from and it will help me get the paper done faster. I just don't have enough time to write it.' This student is clearly misinformed. Most teachers will know where the information came from and/or will use different ways to determine if the work is the student's work.

Plagiarized Essay

Modern technology, the Internet, and the World Wide Web makes it easier to plagiarize and many students believe they will not get caught doing it. Sometimes students do not realize any information coming off the Internet is copyrighted. Often students fall behind in getting their work done and they believe the only way to copy information from different sources. Many students have more than one class and they think they cannot write all the term papers due for these classes. However, plagiarism is cheating and often carries a stiff penalty from the college or university.

Plagiarism is copying someone's words or ideas without giving them credit for it. While many students, teachers, and writers do not mean to plagiarize, they often do it. The best way to prevent plagiarism is to give credit to someone's words or ideas.

Use quotations marks and cite the source if you are referring to someone's words or ideas that come from a variety of sources such as a magazine, book, newspapers, or from a Web page. Citation is stating where the words or ideas came from with the correct documentation of the source in a specific style such as the Modern Language Association's (MLA) style.

Paraphrasing another person's words or ideas is still plagiarism without you document where the original source came from. When citing the source use one of the specific style's of documentation such as MLA. Read the paraphrase to see if the wording is more of a copy of the original or truly rephrased in your own words.

Sometimes students use source after source in a term paper. They fail to use their own words and express their knowledge about the topic. While documentation of all these sources shows the paper is not plagiarized, the instructor wants to see the work of the student. It is important to think about the topic and write about what you know as well as use the research you find.

For example,

"Students often plagiarize because they find their lives so busy' (Moore 1968). "Plagiarism is copying another person's work' (Moore 2003). "It is important to document sources. This means giving the name of the author, title, the name of the journal or magazine, the volume number, and the page numbers' (Moore 2004).
Notice that all the sentences in the paragraph have been cited. None of the writing is the individual's. The right way to do a term paper or essay is to use your thoughts and knowledge about a paper and mix this with sources that are cited.

For example,

Today's hectic schedules often cause students to consider plagiarizing. "Plagiarism is copying another person's work' (Moore 2003). The student simply copies and pastes information from different web sites into their paper believing the instructor will never know. What they should do is to use quotation marks if using the person's words and ideas or the student could paraphrase the words of the author. Either way the information should be cited and documented in a reference page. "It is important to document all the sources. This means giving the name of the author, title, the name of the journal or magazine, the volume number, and the page numbers' (Moore 2004).

Notice the student's ideas are mixed with others words and ideas that are cited in the paragraphs. If a person is going to use the words or ideas of someone, they must cite and document where the information came from. Plagiarism is using the works or ideas of someone else.

Not only students plagiarize; some of the essay writing and research companies or "non-profit organizations" fight each other over... who "plagiarizes more" and who has "the right" to plagiarize.