Class loads, study time, exams, and student exhaustion may open doors to carelessness or temptation. Under those circumstances, coming up with original thought is one more thing to stretch a person. That being said, plagiarism is a temptation that many a high school and college student face. Or carelessness to give credit where credit is due sometimes is a trap. But there are serious consequences for plagiarism.
Plagiarism and Its Consequences: A Guide for High School and College Students
For the purpose of this article, I’m addressing plagiarism when it comes to copying an author’s words. Let’s walk through this important issue together to help our students think cause to effect.
What Plagiarism Is
To be clear, Mr. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary explains that plagiarism is “The act of purloining another man’s literary works, or introducing passages from another man’s writings and putting them off as one’s own; literary theft.”
If a student is taking someone’s idea and taking the credit for it, it’s plagiarism. Specifically, according to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, an idea is: “In popular use, idea signifies notion, conception, thought, opinion, and even purpose or intention. 2. Image in the mind.”
How Plagiarism Looks Among Students
It’s important to know what plagiarism looks like so that one may avoid it by accident. Or so that one may recognize the temptation and choose self-government instead. Below are some examples that I found at Plagiarism.org and you can find more examples at their website:
Submitting work to a teacher that someone else wrote is plagiarism. If a student isn’t submitting his own work, he’s not sharing his own thoughts. But instead, he’s sharing the thoughts of someone else and passing them off as his own.
If an author’s words make up most of a student’s paper, it’s plagiarism. Plus, students need to demonstrate that they comprehend what they’ve read. It demonstrates that they’re learning.
Incorrectly citing the source of information is also plagiarism. Understandably, credit needs to go to the rightful author. Always give credit where credit is due.
Paraphrasing without giving credit to the source is plagiarism. Because paraphrasing is close to the original work of an author, citation must be given.
Quotation marks are very important to use when quoting an author. Without them, a person commits plagiarism.
What is Plagiarism? Published May 18, 2017, Plagiarism.org
The Consequences of Plagiarism
First of all, it’s theft. And a gentle reminder of the Ten Commandments will help guide students in reasoning that God Himself says not to steal. In order to keep a clear conscience before God, one must choose self-governance and not plagiarize.
Secondly, damage happens to relationships. Certainly, a separation in one’s relationship from God occurs. Additionally, the sin of theft breaks people’s trust. And naturally, this results in a negative reputation affecting one’s future with others to varying degrees.
Thirdly, it cheats the student and others from individual expression of original thought. As an individual, one has different life experiences, observations, and one’s personality can contribute to the conversation. But if all one does is copy another person, it robs a community of those things.
To say nothing of the fact that plagiarism also prevents a person from processing and internalizing their own thoughts and beliefs on a topic. For it’s one thing to agree or disagree with someone’s thoughts and to quote them. And it’s an entirely different thing to claim someone’s expression to be exactly as one’s own.
Last but not least, immediate consequences for students are failing grades. Additionally, being expelled from class or school is a risk.
What is not Plagiarism
According to TheWritingCenter.unc.ede, the sharing of common facts isn’t plagiarism. That is to say, if it’s already knowledge that you possess on a topic that is common, then it isn’t plagiarism. However, if a student learns some facts that are new to him, he needs to cite the author.
Obviously, sharing one’s own original thoughts on a topic isn’t plagiarism.
How to Avoid Plagiarism
I found some questions that individuals can ask themselves at The Writing Center. While a few questions are listed below, you can find more information at The Writing Center:
- “Do I already know this information?” If not, then the resource needs to be cited.
- “Am I quoting an author?” If so, citation must be given.
- “Have I changed any of the author’s words by using synonyms?” If so, it’s time to give citation.
- “Is what I just wrote a complete paraphrase of the author’s words?” If yes, then the need for citing the author is a yes.
A Word About Self-Plagiarism
Yes, it’s a thing. It may seem crazy that one could plagiarize oneself, but self-plagiarism is still plagiarism. Your college-bound students especially need to understand this when they are tempted to submit a paper for a class that they wrote and submitted to a different class previously, or even took parts of for a new paper. Just as they would cite another author in the second paper, they must cite themselves. College instructors consider self-plagiarism as just as serious an infraction as plagiarizing other authors, and consequences can be severe for either situation.
Students need to be confident in their abilities to process information. And if they’re running into a time crunch, they need to talk with their teachers about it. But they must not turn to plagiarism in either case. Helping students to see the cause to effect of plagiarism helps them to make wise choices.
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