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Plagiarism and the Ways to Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism has been given different definitions by many institutions. According to Merriam (2009), plagiarism can be defined as stealing another person’s ideas and passing them as one’s own without crediting the original source. Plagiarism is committing a literary theft where one may derive an idea from another author and present it as novel or original. Other authorities have defined plagiarism as a culture where persons claim or imply original authorship of other writer’s work partially or holistically. Although no standard definition of plagiarism exists, all these definitions have been used to suit different contexts. Plagiarism cuts across all levels of society and institutions. Although the movie industries may be affected by the vice, academic plagiarism has been prevalent in recent decades in learning institutions.

Academic plagiarism also referred to as academic fraud cuts across the whole academic arena (Kock, 1999). Failure to put quotation marks on referenced information also constitutes academic plagiarism or an evidence of the same. It also involves giving incorrect information about the source of borrowed materials or copying many words from a source that makes up the majority of a writer’s work, whether apposite citation is given or not. To develop good writing skills, academicians need to uphold the practice of intellectual honesty and avoid plagiarism. Types of plagiarism Different types of plagiarism have been defined by many intellectuals. Klausman identified three main types of plagiarism as direct, paraphrase and patchwork plagiarisms. Direct plagiarism involves taking exact ideas from a source and presenting them as one’s own (Klausman, 1999). This is common among students and a report by New York Times indicated that forty percent of the students in the United States were involved with direct plagiarism. With paraphrase plagiarism, the writer takes the work partially. This is also common among students and is rated as unintentional plagiarism since it is correct to paraphrase another author’s work. The problem usually occurs because most students do not know the correct way to paraphrase the article or book and give credit to the original author. Patchwork plagiarism is often accidental form of plagiarism. According to Klausman, the writer often takes the work of another person and “patches them together” as his own (1999).

Reasons for plagiarism Plagiarism especially in learning institutions is intellectual dishonesty. The vice is common in the academic circles mostly among students. Several reasons have been identified to contribute to plagiarism among students. Some students may be lazy and fail to complete their assignments at the stipulated time frame. As a result, students end up copying considerable information from easily accessible internet, library materials or any other printed documents. Others may fail to understand the convections of academic writing skills of paraphrasing, citation and using other person’s ideas to support their own (Whitley & Keith-Spiegal, 2002). Penalties In America, plagiarism is a crime since it violates the copyright laws of writers and other original owners in the movie industry. It is an academic dishonesty that is both illegal and unethical (Brereton & Mansfield, 1997). Those people involved or caught with academic misconduct should face severe punishments that the institution devises. It is absurd for an author to spend time working on a document and then another person without his consent copies the work. Victims of the vice have been subjected to penalties that have had a devastating impact on their careers. In most US academic institutions plagiarism is a serious offense and the instructor of the course determines the penalty. The penalty could lead to a failing grade for the paper or the entire course or be put on academic probation or expulsion from the institution (Corey, 2004).

Outside academic corridors, plagiarism results in legal lawsuits whereby the victims pay the author the damages they have caused them and the court bars publication of such work. However, the victim suffers as his reputation is damaged and his professional work will be “suspected”. The course instructors may easily detect plagiarized work. The writing style of the student may change dramatically raising an alarm. In addition, students may accidentally copy-paste from similar websites or the course instructor may have read the same work. During their studies, students are using other people’s ideas as basis to buttress their own arguments (Brusaw, Gerald & Oliu). How to avoid plagiarism To avoid plagiarism, one is supposed to enclose the words quoted using quotation marks or paraphrase while keeping the source in your own word and giving the correct citation. Students ought to learn more about the writing skills. However, academic convections should not only be taught in an introductory course but also reinforced at key points in the curriculum. This will enable the students have knowledge on proper paraphrasing and in-text citation, thus avoiding plagiarism. Paraphrasing is using other people’s ideas and putting them down in your own words. One is expected to read and understand the passage and then write without copying the original passage while keeping the tone of the original author. Paraphrasing is common in colleges and it is therefore important to entrench good writing skills (BCWC, 2005).

Good writing strategies may be achieved through regular assignments on reviewing papers that will give students a wider scope of discussion familiarizing them with the topic (Brereton & Manfield, 1997). However, a student caught with plagiarism should rewrite the assignment again. This will not only familiarize the student with the seriousness of the institutional policy concerning plagiarism but will also sharpen their academic writing skills. Ways of detecting plagiarism Since one may plagiarize from different sources, there are several ways of detecting plagiarism. The course instructor should keep student’s portfolios and cross-check other assignments against them for plagiarism. Local libraries should be checked, as they are potential sources of plagiarism.

The Internet, which is a new technology, has become a major source of information for writer’s work. This is because it is easy to access information and unlimited amount of data is available online. This greatly increases the likelihood of the Internet being a major source of plagiarism. In most institutions students are required to submit their work electronically for plagiarism check-ups (Klein, 2007). A wide range of electronic or online tools exists to screen papers for plagiarism. Some are free and others commercial. Examples of such programs include; iplagiariasmCheck, viper, dustball, turnitin, CopyCatch Gold, and Essay Verification Engine, and many others. The program detects the work by comparing it against web sources and may identify the websites from which the student may have copied. If the student’s work is classified as plagiarized, the instructor is expected to analyze the type and extent of plagiarism in order to decide the possible penalties to the culprit (Clarke, 2006).

Conclusion Detecting plagiarism has brought many controversial debates among academicians. Students have cried foul of this commercial business as a lucrative way of making profit from their small pockets. It has also resulted in mistrust between the professor and students. Despite the prevailing mistrust between students and professors, detecting plagiarism is helpful in enhancing and ensuring quality in academic work.

Annotated Bibliography

BCWC: (2005). Bridgewater College writing center, Overview of Paraphrasing, Summarizing, and Quoting. Web.

The website clearly defines the three terminologies, paraphrasing, summarizing and quoting. To paraphrase is to restate the passage for clarification. To summarize means to shorten the passage. To quote is to put the information exactly as the author with quotation marks. Citation should accompany such passages since failure to provide citation is plagiarism.

Brereton, John C. & Margaret Mansfield. (1997). Writing on the Job; A Norton Pocket Guide. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

The two authors explain the academic conventions and good writing strategies. Regular assignments involving reviewing certain articles can help a student upgrade his writing skills.

Brusaw, C., Gerald, A., & Oliu, W. (1993). A Handbook of Technical Writing. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

A handbook of Technical writing emphasizes good writing methods that involve paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting. According to the three authors, a person may use other people’s idea to support their findings. Therefore, good writing skills should be applied.

Clarke, Roger (2006) “Plagiarism by Academics: More Complex Than It Seems,” Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 7(1), 5. Web.

Clarke in his paper explains plagiarism in academic institution. He explains that student and professors are bound by certain rules of plagiarism which both parties have agreed to follow. In addition, he recommends further research on plagiarism since imitation in research is prevalent.

Corey, D. (2008). How to avoid intended or unintended plagiarism in your custom dissertation? Web.

Corey cites the consequences of plagiarism. He claims that dismissal or termination from the University or college is enough for a student to prevent plagiarism. Klausman, Jeffrey. (1999). Teaching about Plagiarism in the Age of the Internet.

Teaching English at a Two-Year College, 27(2), 209-212.

In his review, Klausman defines the three types of plagiarism as direct, paraphrase as well as patchwork. Refusing to put citation correctly may cause plagiarism. According to him, plagiarism is unlawful and academicians should prevent it as much as possible. On the same note, student should understand the types of plagiarism as some are unintentional.

Klein A. (2007). Opinion: Why Do They Do It? The New York Sun. Web.

Alexander gives his experience as a TA in Indiana University. He explains how he become ruthless with plagiarism and asked the student to submit their assignment to for plagiarism check-up. is a commonly used online plagiarism detection service by many academic institutions that compares student’s work against Internet sources and other student work Those caught either failed the course or received a mark on their final transcript for misconduct.

Kock, N. (1999). A case of academic plagiarism. Communications of the ACM, 42(7), 96-104.

Ned has reviewed academic plagiarism, how it occurs, prevention and penalties. He points out that the vice cuts across all level of academic corridors. plagiarism. (2009).

In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Web.

Merriam defines the term plagiarism as stealing other person’s work and passing them as one’s own without giving credit to the author.

Whitley, B.E. Jr. & Keith-Spiegal, P. (2002). Academic dishonesty: An educator’s guide.

Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. The authors identify several reasons why student plagiarize. In most cases, the student may be indolent and fail to complete the work in time. The student becomes anxious and he end up copy-pasting the assignment. Other student fails to understand what it really means by paraphrasing or summarizing.


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