Throughout time, statistics have indicated a significant increase in instances of plagiarism among undergraduate students. Academic dishonesty has been detrimental to achieving educational objectives. Internet plagiarism, whose growth streak is widely encountered in this era compared to a few years ago, is wildly concerning. Higher institution management is concerned with practical means that can curb this trend if not prevented; it will hinder universities’ primary objective of producing research findings that solve humanity’s problems and advancing the nation (Idiegbeyan et al. 4). Plagiarism is perceived as academic treason that weakens the whole scholarly initiative, as assessment decisions, performance initiatives, and advancements are based on one’s originality. Plagiarism must therefore be avoided throughout a student’s academic and career life. This essay defines academic plagiarism, highlighting its types, causes, consequences, and recommendations and applying preventive measures.
What is Academic Plagiarism?
People use different combinations of texts, images, and other media to express their ideas. Using such creative expressions as your own without acknowledging the initial author is plagiarism. It includes all publicized items and unpublished materials in manuscript form, printed or electronic. Plagiarism is derived from a Latin word known as “plagiarius,” meaning a “kidnapper,” which was used by a Roman poet, Martial, to address a literary thief who was reciting his work without attribution. Its definition differs in different countries, universities, and cultures, which could be one of the factors contributing to plagiarism. It can be viewed as an infringement of intellectual property, improper scientific practice, and even morally wrong (Awasthi 2). This phenomenon predated the invention of writing itself; it was clearly defined in the 1800s to protect writers’ copyrights. It is not only an issue in higher education but also present in other fields such as film production, music, science, journalism, and literature.
Regarding the unfair use of copyright knowledge, plagiarism can be categorized into intentional and unintentional plagiarism. Deliberate plagiarism is deceitful; it includes declaring ownership of other people’s work, using online resources without attribution, using copyright resources from different sources to develop new work without attribution, and forgetting to use quotation marks (Idiegbeyan et al. 6). Unintended plagiarism includes altering some words without changing the original sentence’s structure or changing the original content’s appearance by altering the initial positions of the quotation marks. Using observations from different sources that are not in one’s vocabulary and making it hard to trace the origin of one’s information either by providing incomplete information about the source, also leads to unintentional copying.
The offense can occur by mixing data from different sources and being unable to differentiate between the primary and secondary sources of information. The term “plagiarism” originally appeared in English in the countless battles between Shakespeare and his compeers. An excellent example of plagiarism is copying and pasting this description into a report. In modern days, plagiarism is unlimited to lazy and deceitful students. The act of presenting someone else’s work as their own study and academic abilities after they have plagiarized it by frequently using four words or more from a public source without citing the source in any way is known as academic plagiarism(Idiegbeyan et al. 7). In academia, continuous paraphrasing of someone else’s work without evidential interaction with their views through arguments and the addition of new insights presents itself as a form of plagiarism. Academic plagiarizers do not copy the entire book but incorporate phrases from several books and provide incorrect leads that make they’re plagiarizing appear as genuine errors.
Causes of Plagiarism
Among the problems in academia, plagiarism is the most serious one. Academic malpractice has been a concern to those teaching at the universities. There are reasons why plagiarism is considered outrageous at western universities, even though many university students unintentionally do it. There are many reasons why students plagiarize. The significant causes of plagiarism are the simplicity of using the internet and poor management of the students, leading to poor academic grades and trust in their results (Awasthi 3). The ease of using the internet is the primary cause of students getting plagiarized. Due to technological enhancements and rapid growth, students have easy and direct access to many readily available online sources.
They prefer copying assignments from online sources whenever they get assignments and research projects from schools and universities instead of getting information from study books and reading detailed materials from libraries. Due to their willingness to stay in their comfort zone and lack of interest, they use such sources that are undependable and less reliable for their projects and assignments to get excellent grades (Idiegbeyan et al. 8). The second leading cause of plagiarism is mismanagement and lack of control of their time. Most students are always running to work on their assignments when their submission dates come close, which sometimes are to be submitted earlier. This fails to proofread their work thoroughly; thus, students are only left with a quick option to plagiarize others’ work.
Social pressure and performance anxiety are some of the other causes of plagiarism. Many high school and university curricula require students to memorize instead of promoting innovative thinking. This particular method of studying does not hone the students’ abilities to think objectively hence the need to replicate what has been taught in class. Students go through school without realizing that most of their work is full of plagiarism. Plagiarism later becomes a problem in the student’s future work. Course policies that do not spell out what is expected of the students when working on assignments and instructors who do not actively enforce academic integrity standards encourage students to participate in academic dishonesty as the chances of being caught are minimal.
Pressure arising from parents and tutors is another major cause of plagiarism among students. When students face pressure from society, family, and peers to perform better or be in certain areas of study, they are triggered to perform intentional plagiarism to meet the expectations. Some scholars lack the required knowledge when using citations and referencing styles in their work, thus plagiarizing ignorantly (Idiegbeyan et al. 8). They have an inadequate time frame to submit their assignments and study papers, thus plagiarizing other people’s work to achieve those deadlines. The struggle to maintain the workload makes students feel hopeless, and the only escape plan at hand becomes plagiarism.
Types of Plagiarism
Like any other form of theft, plagiarism can be done in varied ways, and they all have different levels of severity. Plagiarism occurs in numerous forms, from restating someone’s thoughts without acknowledging them to copying the entire article. However, the original author’s name is not mentioned, and there are no quotation marks in work, which is a clear sign of straight copying. Those minor changes alter the passage’s appearance giving an impression of one’s original authorship. Paraphrasing is a type of plagiarism that is much more difficult to identify. It entails paraphrasing without acknowledging the source through referencing (University of Oxford). Even when the source is cited, widespread paraphrasing lacks significant new material and indicates a lack of interaction with the author’s work.
The most usual method of plagiarism is the ‘copy-cut-paste’ technique of words and or text. In the current era of technology, this form of plagiarism is prevalent. It may be in complete sentences, paragraphs, and tables. Another form of plagiarism is mosaic or patchwriting, where one’s work is paraphrased with improper citations. A new author may intentionally use a previous text by rephrasing, reordering, or replacing words or paragraphs without crediting the original author (Awasthi 3). Salami slicing is a common form of plagiarism among authors to increase their chances of publishing or having multiple articles. This is called self-plagiarism, which must be distinguished from recycling someone else’s work. A work is self-plagiarized if its argument and insights are similar to the source, lacking new ideas; thus, the two pieces are only different in their appearance. It is evident when one reuses concepts, texts, and information they have submitted or published already; this is considered plagiarism if you do not have the authorization to do so and does not mention your prior works.
Complete plagiarism involves copying and pasting the original piece, having replaced the authors’ names. The most common form of plagiarism is verbatim, which entails intentionally copying and pasting one’s work and labeling it as your own without acknowledgment. Other types of plagiarism may include paraphrasing, accidental and source-based plagiarism. Paraphrasing plagiarism involves rewriting another source’s text and ideas as if they are your own without citation. It can also be encountered if you translate a text from another language and use it without a source. Like any other form of theft, plagiarism has its repercussions.
Consequences of Plagiarism
Plagiarism can impose severe consequences on different universities and organizations because when it is done deliberately, it indicates the work’s author is not honest and hinders the scholarship process. After all, if one is stealing ideas, their creativity is not being tested and obscures the readers from tracing the sources of the presented concepts. It is not just enough for students and researchers to fully understand what plagiarism entails. But they should also have a clear picture of the penalties they can attract once they fall victim to plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional. Punishment for plagiarizing is dependent on how much cost or what extent of hurt is caused to the author (Idiegbeyan-ose et al. 8). Risks involved in committing plagiarism range from warnings to various types of legal penalties, which can permanently damage the career of a student or professional.
Suspected cases of plagiarism in submitted works are investigated by the disciplinary committee responsible for examination conduct. After thorough investigations have been conducted, and if there is evidence of plagiarism, corrective actions and academic penalties are the repercussions (University of Oxford). Punishment for a student can be carried out either at the teacher-student level or student-institution level. Teachers instill punishment mainly through verbal warnings or written statements concerning academic fraud, giving lower grades, or even failing the student hence the need for a retake in the course. Institutes may punish by suspension or expulsion, incorporating lessons on academic integrity, admonishment, and revocation of one’s title (Idiegbeyan-ose et al. 10). Demoralization and personal frustrations are the significant consequences of plagiarism, and they can be easily avoided. For researchers and professionals in scientific fields, plagiarism results in warnings, public apologies, and more severe consequences such as annihilation.
Plagiarized research papers obstruct the scientific process by misrepresenting means of retrieving and amending results, as wrong findings in research can affect practical applications in fields. For instance, in medicine, skewed meta-studies that analyze the efficiency and safety of medical drugs and treatment can jeopardize the safety of the patients(Idiegbeyan et al. 9). Plagiarism reduces competence among students because if they can get credit by using someone else’s work, they lose the motivation that’s important for acquiring knowledge.
If academic plagiarism is not discovered, plagiarists will remain at large and receive research funding and career advancements.
This constant act of plagiarism involves recycling already present knowledge preventing the creation of novel insights and causing existing ideas to be reciprocated repeatedly. Distortion of this competence can cause undeserved career advancements for plagiarists. In a professional academic setting, plagiarism can lead to legal action, including copyright violation and fraud, which is unlawful in an undergraduate setting. If you don’t credit a co-author, you may be breaking the law by submitting the same work to many scholarly journals.
Academic institutions use plagiarism checker tools such as Turnitin to ensure that submitted assignments are authored initially. If the checker detects a similarity between both works, one is accused of plagiarism. These checker tools have not considerably mitigated the plagiarism cases occurring in different institutions but have created some awareness. However, various measures and guidelines are in place to decrease the instances of plagiarism among tutors, students, and professionals. These strategies include incorporating training on copyright and citation regulations in learning institutions, plagiarism detection software, encouraging students to avoid plagiarism not just out of fear but also as morally illicit, and providing adequate resources in libraries (Awasthi 3). The two main methods used to avoid plagiarism include putting the text within quotation marks, citing the source, and paraphrasing the primary text.
For students, the tutors should propose techniques for encouraging students to think creatively and present their ideas. Universities should shed light on plagiarism among the students to prevent students from performing misconduct unknowingly (Awasthi 3). It costs nothing to provide sensitization regarding plagiarism compared to the cost spent on ensuring that students do not conduct plagiarism. For instance, universities can publish essay guides that elaborate on self-plagiarism and then set up rules prohibiting students from submitting a similar essay in different courses for credit. Using quotation marks and credible sources such as books, journals, encyclopedias, and academic databases is another excellent way to avoid plagiarism penalties. Quotation marks indicate the communication of another author’s findings, concept, and interpretation.
Despite knowing that citation of the information used in a text is the best way to avoid plagiarism, students still find it hard to understand when to cite and format the citations. They also have problems with incorporating information and with references. Although students and authors can rely on other sources to express their opinions, they must cite the original authors to avoid committing literal theft (University of Oxford). Understanding copyright laws is also vital when writing to avoid legal and ethical repercussions. The reader must understand sections of the work that are original to the author, highlighting ideas, thoughts, and words resulting from others. Sources require documentation, and all quotations must be placed within quotation marks. In simple terms, acknowledging that specific texts, passages, and data have been borrowed and providing the source from which the material has been derived for your audience is enough to prevent plagiarism.
Plagiarism is described as a form of academic dishonesty as it does not give credit to one who’s due and, in this case, the work’s original author. This does not insinuate that one cannot use someone else’s work, as borrowing material and ideas are imperative in academic writing. However, it is essential to indicate the difference between your ideas and opinions from those of other sources. It not only gives proper credit to the work’s original author but allows your readers to verify and refer to where those ideas came from. Students should indicate whose argument they are using before indicating their views when writing essays. However, it is not necessary to reference common knowledge facts in one’s discipline. Facts that are generally known and ideas derived from the interpretation of those facts need to be documented. The pervasiveness of plagiarism poses a significant danger to academic integrity and in various fields. Tackling it requires collective efforts among all stakeholders to provide the perfect solution.
Introducing better writing techniques to students at a younger age and at every level of their education may help reduce plagiarism. Combinations of plagiarism detection software, digital literacy, and policy implementations must also be incorporated to assist in battling plagiarism. Students should be encouraged to think creatively by allowing them to make their propositions. They must develop their voice by becoming an independent thinker. The learning process should involve critical analysis of other authors’ work, weighing differing arguments, and drawing conclusions. With the current technology, tutors can use tools such as Turnitin to motivate students to produce original works. Plagiarism can be avoided by promoting originality, acknowledging other people’s work, and adhering to proper referencing.
Plagiarism may be illegal and unscrupulous. Therefore, there is zero justification for plagiarizing. It causes an unfair advantage to those who commit deceit and gets credit for other people’s work. It undermines the morals of society by setting a bad example. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent these problems. For instance, academic libraries should train their members and scholars on the appropriate means of citations to curb this problem. Higher institutions need to make plagiarism policies available to all scholars and obtain similarity checks software to check for plagiarism and implement their use. The adverse effects of plagiarism on the education enterprise, individuals, and the nation as a whole should also be taught to students to help curb cases of plagiarism. Awareness creation can also be accomplished by using social media platforms, adverts, and announcements around the campus so that the students may take the assignments given by their teachers seriously. Through this, students can continually learn to master writing techniques as a practical skill and commit to the art of intellectual honesty.
Awasthi, Shipra. “Plagiarism And Academic Misconduct a Systematic Review.” DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, vol 39, no. 2, 2019, pp. 94-100. Defence Scientific Information and Documentation Centre.
Idiegbeyan, Jerome, et al. “Towards Curbing Plagiarism in Higher Institutions of Learning: The Strategic Role Of The Library.” 2018. Library Philosophy and practice (e-journal). 2014.
University of Oxford. “Plagiarism.” Ox.Ac.Uk, 2022.