No one would disagree that the popularity of the Internet has helped in many ways, including the advancements in education–namely distance learning. However, many people would also be quick to agree that the Internet and its various technologies also have a dark side to them when it comes to college students trying to make the grade. Now more than ever, plagiarism continues to be a widespread issue among colleges and universities everywhere. Although there are students that know full well what they are doing, many others fail to recognize the distinction that separates plagiarism from originally created content/work.
The Definition of Plagiarism
According to most dictionaries, plagiarism is defined as: “The practice of stealing another person’s ideas and/or work and trying to pass it off as one’s own.” The most obvious way for a person to plagiarize someone else’s work is by copying something verbatim. For example, a student has written a history paper but a large portion of the content was copied and pasted from another source.
While most college students know that copying someone else’s work word-for-word constitutes plagiarism, the issue that colleges and universities are facing comes from individuals who are plagiarizing without realizing it. This stems from students incorrectly researching and citing their materials when it comes to writing papers. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding can still lead to consequences, even if the student didn’t mean to plagiarize in the first place. Not using quotation marks in the right places, failing to cite a source or using the wrong one, failing to give credit or simply switching a few words around all count as plagiarism.
The practice of using the Internet and its plethora of websites for sources of information has helped to contribute to the problem. Oftentimes, students fail to properly write their papers in a way that shows they not only did the research but understand what it is they are writing by expressing their thoughts and beliefs in their own words. Simply rephrasing sentences and paragraphs from websites like Wikipedia only demonstrate that a student can regurgitate what’s already been written.
What makes plagiarism so bad, aside from the fact that the true author/authors have been ripped off, is that it can cause a lot of uncomfortable tension and suspicion between professors and their students. Even just one paper that’s been proven to be plagiarized can lead professors to be paranoid that there are others in the bunch doing the same thing. Dealing with each individual case serves as a distraction to the rest of the class and negatively interferes with the learning experience.
Consequences & Solutions
Plagiarizing in college is a serious offense and one many colleges and universities will not hesitate to take action on. Disciplinary probation and expulsion are common consequences–not to mention the irreparable harm it does to a student’s academic career.
It is vital that college students learn how to cite their sources the right way. Before turning in papers, students should run their content through online programs designed to check for plagiarism. Such programs are free and easy to use.