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Why Plagiarism Happens And How To Prevent English Language Essay

The 18th century set a standard for new morals codes which has been institutionalized and enforced prominently in the precinct of academia and journalism, where plagiarism was declared as academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics. According to the cultural dictionary and to most leading authorities, plagiarism is a form of literary theft. Plagiarism is defined as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author’s "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own authentic work. However, the notion remains problematic with indefinite boundaries. Because plagiarism is considered to be a factor of a particular culture or time, the concept was and still remains an unethical and creative idea. Particularly with the Romantic Movement, while in the previous centuries authors and artists were encouraged to "copy the masters as closely as possible" and avoid "unnecessary invention [ ]. In this period of time, the idea of plagiarism was made unclear; however, it is intended to uncover its chief concern, plagiarism in academic custom writing. After the printing press and publications were developed, plagiarism was first identified as problematic in society. The idea at the time was not protection of author’s rights, but to minimize competition among many of the publishers. Plagiarism demises one’s character and when detected it can therefore result not only in academic sanctions (such as debarment) but also the involvement of legal authorities.

The fair use concept is characterized by certain statutes for purposes such as criticism, commenting, teaching, or research, is not copyright infringement. Specifically, the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use which leaves many factors to be considered. This entails the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or if for nonprofit educational purposes. As a result, it is difficult to say with regard to citation or paraphrasing, the work of others in academic work will sometime but not always constitute fair use.

Realistically, plagiarism between scholars rarely goes to court, in part because of infringement of copyright. This serves as a margin of safety for authors in that it has narrower than ethical standards that guide professional conduct. Copyright is the set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. It applies to a wide range of works that are substantive and fixed. Therefore jurisdictions recognize the moral rights of the author, such as the right to be credited for the work. However, this is not so in the arts, which not only have resisted in their tradition of copying as a fundamental practice of a creative process, but with an explosion of modernist and postmodern movements in the 20th century []. This practice has been elevated as a central and exemplary artistic device. Therefore, plagiarism is not a part of criminal activity but is disapproved more on the grounds of moral offence.

Under the intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic work; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. The most common form of intellectual property includes copyrights, patents, trademarks, industrial design rights and trade secrets in some jurisdictions. Due to the increased demands of the students, most authorities cite access to the internet as one of the main reasons for such growth in Plagiarism [6]. Essentially, plagiarism is a concept that seems to be becoming more prevalent in today’s society. With that being said, this research paper is written to examine the ethical and practical implications on the issue of plagiarism: why it happens and how to prevent it in an academic setting and in the pastoral ministry.

The High Cost of Plagiarism

Plagiarism includes more inconspicuous and perhaps more deleterious abuses than simply sequestering the exact wording of another author without indication. Plagiarism also encompasses limited borrowing. Without the acknowledgment of another person's discrete and valid research findings, the copying of strategies, hypotheses, theories, interpretations, or an extended borrowing even with proper notation which has proven to be unacceptable. Harris states that this complex issue involves many factors, e.g., "ignorance, opportunity, technology, changes in ethical values, competitive pressures, perceived lack of consequences, and even poorly designed assignments." He cites a Christian Science Monitor article stating that a free-term-paper site, run by a 16-year-old, receives 13,000 hits a day. Numerous other statistics are well documented. This matter-of-fact, readable work provides activities to educate and help eliminate this practice. The appendixes include definitions of plagiarism and policy language, quizzes and activities to use with students, teaching resources, Internet-search tools, term-paper mills, and useful Web links and articles. Librarians may want to collaborate with teachers to plan a staff development based on these clearly written ideas. Of course, historical knowledge is quantitative. However in some contexts, such as encyclopedia articles and textbooks, the form of attribution and the dependence on prior comprehension, citations and other forms of attribution may differ on a particular subject such as a biographical studies or the study of works of one artist.

As knowledge is disseminated to a wide range of viewers, it loses some of its personal reference. Here, the author’s belonging become less incisive. In textbooks, historians should support the sources of recent or categorical findings and assimilations, those that are not yet a part of the common understanding of the profession, and they should never simply use temporarily or paraphrase the findings of other scholars. Given the importance of building on previous work, it is inevitable that researchers and members of an association or institution use in their articles a great deal or direct quotation and paraphrasing from previous literature for advancement in the area of arts and sciences. Thus it is important to understand the boundaries of fair use. In essence, fair use is a defense to copyright infringement when an author incorporates the original, creative works of others into his or her own work. Further, the determination of what is fair use is not strictly a quantitative analysis of “how much has been copied or borrowed.” However, if the paraphrasing is not adequately referenced, then it is plagiarism. Hence, if the student has thorough references as their sources, it is not plagiarism. Simply citing the source says to the reader “these are not my words or ideas.”

For example, In 1965 Joe Biden was caught plagiarizing while composing a paper in a legal methods course at the Syracuse University Law School, in which he failed. In Biden’s case, being a plagiarist resurfaced as he bid for the democratic presidential nomination. Aside from making the headline news in the New York Times, this incidence went on to the evening news. His competitor felt that this would be enough to win him the democratic seat, even if it caused Biden to be stabbed in the back. Biden attempted to remain strong in the face of adversary, so he insisted that “I’m in this race to stay. I’m in this race to win.” As a result of publicity surrounding his unacknowledged use of Neal Kinnock’s speech, Biden was disqualified. The name recognition was no longer problematic for Biden; however, the name recognition was not beneficial to his campaign for the democratic presidential nomination. In other words, Biden’s name was now associated with plagiarism. This became a vintage illustration of plagiarism for grade school teachers and college professors internationally who lectured on unacknowledged source use [Lesko].

Presumably, Biden thought of all the attention to his rhetorical borrowing as preposterous. In the same way, the media analysts simply agreed, stating that is was “hardly a capital offense.” William Safire stated, “times have been altered; you can’t get away with appropriating anything these days – not even public speaking technique, much less a phrase or paragraph – unless you are willing to give recognition.” [Lesko] Biden’s presidential aspirations were penetrated by this instance of plagiarism due to the public exposure it received.

Perspective on the Law

From a legal perspective, the wrongdoing of plagiarism is concerned with the loss of the other; the holder of the copyright, as plagiarism undermines his or her financial possibilities. From the ethical perspective, the wrongdoing focuses more on the misrepresentation of self. To avoid plagiarism, all students must document sources properly using footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical references, and must write a works cited page and place it at the end of the research paper to list the sources used. The consequences of plagiarism should be established early in the semester to insure the best way to start; however these rules must be enforced. Of course, professors should not falsely accuse a student of plagiarism; therefore concrete evidence is needed before confrontation but sometimes the first step is simply talking with the student. Doran et al. suggest questioning students about methodology performed or the students understanding of the citation process (147). As a teacher approaches the student with an inquiring attitude instead of a condemning one, the students will be less defensive and the lines of communication will open so that a determination could be made on what/how much they did not understand and where the line of integrity may have been crossed.

An open discussion always allows the students to employ the concept of plagiarism instead of merely having it forced upon them; it helps to create an atmosphere in the classroom dedicated to learning and academic integrity. That way everyone can have clarity on the expectations concerning plagiarism. After the discussion on plagiarism, the student will not be caught off guard if the issue surfaces, and, moreover, the student can be held accountable for maintaining academic integrity since they are aware of the expectations set for them.

Theoretical Perspective

Despite the abundance of literature on the topic, there is a bare minimum that can be called “common” about our common sense understanding of plagiarism. With in-depth research from a historical aspect, its rhetorical uses, and the cultural practices of plagiarism, this essay reveals that this concept has multifaceted contradictions and obstructions. Plagiarism is a vexed and vexing issue. If we were to judge solely by the amount of rhetoric it generates, it is popular in media, among educators, and scholarly articles across a variety of disciplines. Notwithstanding the resources dedicated to the surveillance, adjudication, and prevention of plagiarism, there is little work that has been done in an attempt to dichotomize the meanings conveyed by and constructed through plagiarism.

Many scholars are familiar with student writing problems; however, these practices that are labeled as “plagiarism” are not acts of purposeful dishonesty, but results from several factors: students’ ignorance on the subject of plagiarism; laziness; and even perhaps the cultural differences between students and their professors, whether ethnic, cultural, geographical, or generational. One has to both identify and define plagiarism to understand the cultural aspects of it. Moreover, understanding that there are different perceptions and opinions about plagiarism, with respect to students and the world in which they live, professors may be able to address the subject more effectively. Evidently Haidu, in 1997, made an astounding observation that plagiarism is more than merely paralleling another person’s art or writing, it also annihilates the need for additional development of ideas and perceptions amidst artists, writers and other profession. [14]

Ascertaining accurate data on plagiarism, the multiple interpretations of what is meant by the word, even among educators themselves, contributes to the difficulty of understanding; therefore, we cannot expect students to bring a singular definition to their responses. Plagiarism is a widespread and growing problem facilitated by the Internet, which allow for accelerated and efficient research; therefore accessing sources that are easy way to “cut and paste” without attribution. This has become problematic for faculty as it undermines the nature and value of education itself, increases their workload, and disrupts the process of learning.

Academic Perspective

As a college student one is expected to have their own ideas by reading and comprehending information and explaining it in their own words. Even though students feel burdened to complete papers that meet the requirements of the professor, with the accessibility of new technology, students can plagiarize by copying and pasting information from other sources. If the student completes an assignment by copying material, he or she is not showing that they understand the given material. In other words, regurgitating what a textbook says does not show that you understand. There are penalties for plagiarism but the most important is the abhorrence of the community of scholars. “Plagiarism attacks the fundamental principles of scholarship academics and foundations upon which the academic community rests.” [13] Assuredly, reasons for plagiarizing vary but laziness and procrastination are high on the list. The most common form is purchasing an essay or paper from a “dealer” on the internet, borrowing another student’s paper from previous semesters, having someone else do your work, for free or for hire. Simply agreeing to do someone else’s work is equally wrong. As you can see, all of these involves lying, cheating, and stealing. Hence, there are ways to avoid plagiarism which includes giving credit whenever you use (1) another person’s idea, opinion, or theory, (2) any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings—any pieces of information—that are not common knowledge, (3) quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words, or (4) paraphrasing another person’s spoken or written words.

Plagiarism is often easily detected by teachers and/or professors on several occasions. First, the students’ choices of sources are unoriginal; instructors may receive the same passage reproduced from a popular source from several students. Second, if the student does not use their own voice, suspicion of plagiarism is often identified by the professor. Third, students may decide to use a source that is at some level inappropriate, off-topic, or contains incorrect information. Fourth, there may be requirements to submit work to an online plagiarism detector. Therefore, learning to do research and understanding what you read will help to prepare you for what’s to come. When discovering new knowledge, your research allows you to shape questions you can ask and how you answer them. Therefore, it is important that you understand how this knowledge we rely so heavily on depends on the quality and accuracy of your research.

Plagiarism is evident in both sectors of academics and journalism, and each has its own consequence. [10] Therefore as a writer, it is important to know what the readers looks for in the final report. In general, one should devise a plan to help them prepare and conduct their research which assists in the draft of their report: How do I find a Topic? Where do I find information on it? What do I do when I find it? Although, the student may feel anxious when undertaking a new project, keep in mind that hard work may lead to some frustration but the mere fact of accomplishing the goal proves to be more satisfying. Booth states, “The best way to deal with the complexity of research (and its anxieties) is to read twice, first by skimming for understanding.”[Booth pg. 7] Reading will help your imagination burst into an array of colors when executing a plan for performing research and another for analyzing it in such a way that the only outcome is encouragement of your best thinking and assisting the reader to see its value.

What happens if you are caught cheating?

As mentioned previously, academic dishonesty leads to debarment from an institution of higher learning. However, many students do not understand the procedure if /when caught cheating. Upon acceptance to an institute of higher learning, students are given packets of literature that is beneficial as they matriculate. At the beginning of the semester, professors outline what plagiarism is and why it’s wrong. Although, majority of students may not grasp the understanding of what happens to you if you are caught plagiarizing. Let’s begin by defining how plagiarism is confirmed other than the use software that scans for plagiarized content. Here are three steps to help the professor crack down on plagiarism.

First, if the professor or teacher’s assistant suspect plagiarism while reviewing a paper, they initiate the plagiarism detection process (Google scholar, journal databases etc) to find if the content is directly copied. As a result, the student is then confronted and if one confesses to the accusation, the matter is dealt with unofficially with either the student receiving a failing grade on that particular assignment or even the entire course; however, this does not cause permanent damage on the final transcript. Second, if the online plagiarism scanner fails to find any content that has been copied but plagiarism is still suspected, the paper is given to another reviewer (usually a TA) who scans the paper for inaccuracies. Again, if a confession is made and it is not the student’s first offence, the student can be suspended for the semester and in most cases permanent records of plagiarism compromises the student’s transcript. With this permanent record, students jeopardize the opportunity to be accepted into a graduate program and also minimizes the ability to get hired in the future so it helps to weigh out all the options of cheating before you actually agree to follow through on it. Lastly, if the additional reader comes to the same conclusion that the paper has been plagiarized the best punishment is then decided. However, if the student refused to accept the charges that has presented to them, a formal investigation is levied and a committee of professors, even student representatives, is formed to investigate the accusation. If the student is found guilty, their degree will be confiscated, perhaps, the year is completely taken away from them. The lesson here is that if you make a confession of your wrongdoings, you’ll get off much easier if you did.

Ministry Perspective on Plagiarism

Contrary to popular belief, Pastoral plagiarism often occurs according to Steve Sjogren. He argues that diligently preparing a sermon is asinine, stating: “it is absurd to spend 25 or 30 hours a week preparing to speak on the weekend. [ Don’t be original – be effective issue #250]” Point in fact, some pastors don’t trust their own ability to give complete original messages he says. Sjogren implies that the desire to prepare your own sermons is the result of pride. In fact he ridicules those pastors who think they are preparing commendable sermons themselves by asking: If pastors are preaching such gratifying sermons, why is the growth of their church stunted? Sjogren implies that one should replicate the sermons of big church pastors - they’re just plagiarizing others, he says. [Don’t be original – be effective” issue #250]. Likewise, any one person can state that they are the origin of the work, which, again, is stealing intellectual property without the rules concerning plagiarism. [16]

Sataline says “buying packaged wisdom has brought about a debate on ethics, especially after incidents in which pastors have resigned over plagiarism allegations” [1]. Though this may work for some it surely does not work for all. Sure, observing and acquiring wisdom and knowledge from other people is commendable but skipping the hard work of studying, and instead, preaching another man’s labors is unacceptable. According to 2 Timothy chapter two verses 15, you should “study to show thyself approved. Sjogren disagrees by implying that the effort to prepare for self is the result of pride. Rev. Brian Moon suggests that one should not “beat their head against the wall to try and come up with a good product yourself []. Pastors become audacious by implementing the fact that they cannot afford not to hit a homerun each weekend. Is this not man-centered and performance-driven? Many assume that the principle goal in preaching is a great performance; however, this is not what our people need. We as pastors should know that our congregations are critics. They examine our work to grasp a sense of our mission and purpose for the message. Clark implies that a mission statement would bring focus to the individual sermons written or any emerging body of work [Clark pg. 195]. As you cultivate a mission statement, think about your writing strategies and aspirations, and then share them with someone else, as a reality check, to acquire suggestions on how to achieve it. It is important that we captivate the mind of the individual by illustrating that time and dedication is the answer to a successful ministry. When a pastor plagiarizes their sermons, they are clearly not fulfilling primary responsibility to God. There is not an investment of time and nor an effort in studying the Word, understanding the Word, or helping others understand what God has spoken to him. The best way to reinforce this progress in fulfilling God’s purpose is to sacrifice the time that is needed to hear from God. If you develop a relationship of love and trust in God, pastors, you would not be concerned with the size of your ministry but the effectiveness of it.

How to prevent Plagiarism

Informing students on plagiarism is not the only way to get the message across. Hence, turning procrastination into rehearsal may just be the answer. According to Clark, almost all writers procrastinate. He says that “foolish students wait too long to get their hands moving, until the pressures of deadline become irresistible and destructive,” “The alternative is to reframe the periods of inaction into forms of rehearsal.”[Clark pg. 200] Thomas suggests that we should make research fun and exciting [Thomas pg. 146]. She shares that there are so many excellent sources of information available that researching can truly be a pleasure. Undoubtedly, research in not limited to just books, periodicals and journals but people are also great sources of information. Therefore as you do your research, take into consideration that careful note taking and organizational skills will help jog your memory when you write and will provide adequate details for illustrations. All this information helps to make research come to life. Gathering as much information as you can and having a great deal of knowledge will help tremendously by providing you with an authoritative voice and a great deal of information to choose from. Baig says to “Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery.” [Baig 135]

Doing your homework in advance indicates that you have “prepared yourself for the expected— and unexpected says Clark [205]. Baig informs us that the bits of information, observations, imaginings, ideas, and so on – collected are like scattered seeds all over the ground. Not all of the seeds will germinate, not all will develop into finished pieces, so one should spread of a lot of them” [Baig pg. 135]. According to Baig, by engaging with the collected material you are taking the first step in the writing process. This then allows you to decide on the specific material you want to use. By this means we hope to counteract the common criticism that plagiarism is merely the means by which students accomplish their research assignments.

A didactic approach shows that you have an internalized way to respond to writing. When you can approach your collected material with this mindset, you will soon overcome your reluctance to reread it. As you think about structure and focus, experiment with several different viewpoints until you are comfortable then you might discover your best work. Thomas says that any piece of writing, be it fiction or nonfiction, may require research. Settings, facts and statistics, character traits, dialogue, and historical references may all need some checking to make sure they’re as accurate and reliable as possible so that you can maintain your credibility. As new ideas and information is discovered, individual critical thinking skills are strengthened. According to Booth, “writing is thinking.” One should begin writing much earlier than you think you can. Teachers and colleagues cannot teach you to balance your belief in the worth of your project. To accommodate these demands Booth states, “some of the world’s most important research has been done by those who persevered in the face of indifference or even hostility, because they never lost faith in their vision” [Booth pg. 15]

As you build confidence, remember that it is important to stay connected with your reader. Booth states, “Research counts for little if few read it. Yet even experienced researchers sometimes forget to keep their readers in mind as they plan and draft their report [pg. 16].” One way to paint a vivid picture is to use powerful adjectives and other parts of speech that help the readers visualize the message. Precise and expressive language allows the reader to imagine what the writer sees which in turn enriches understanding and the communication process. One should be able to draw attention to the story’s meaning. The idea of having to be original can often scare the student, but to be creative in the research process does not mean coming up with your own ideas; you are only adding to what has already been accomplished. “Most of the writing we have to do demands we write about subjects other people have chosen.” [Baig pg. 59] “Academic researchers are often scoffed at for studying profound topics that matter to no one but themselves” says Booth [pg. 25]. To reiterate, it is important to choose a topic that you find interest in so that you can remain connected with yourself and your reader. At this level, it would seem appropriate to think about your reader from the start, knowing that you will understand them better as you work through your project.

Conclusion

You dread confronting students who have plagiarized but every year you have to. By the time you detect a simple citation mistake or a research misdemeanor, it's too late. The right prevention strategy can reduce or eliminate the incidence of plagiarism. In Barry Gilmore's Plagiarism, you'll get classroom-tested prevention strategies and much more. Copycats aren't all the same, meaning, some are dishonest and some merely confused. That's why Barry Gilmore (bestselling author of "Is It Done Yet?" and Speaking Volumes) presents an expanded view of prevention strategies. Plagiarism's ideas work inside and outside your classroom: Use Plagiarism to build students' understanding of plagiarism and set expectations for academic honesty. Use the Plagiarism Study Guide with colleagues to discuss and implement Gilmore's prevention techniques in your department. Give your principal Plagiarism to initiate a school wide plagiarism discussion and observe how Plagiarism's approach helps students detect plagiarism before you ever have to. Those times when you must confront academic dishonesty, there are plagiarism models for effective detection and response. It informs you on how to turn writing's worst offense into a powerful teaching moment. This way you'll help students: understand the seriousness of the issue, learn prewriting, and research strategies that encourage originality. The potential for plagiarism is ever present but with Barry Gilmore's help, you can stop it before students hand in their papers. From prevention to detection to intervention, you'll reduce academic dishonesty and help students see the importance of their own words-before it's too late.

At this point, a student should be ready for a critique of their work. Seeking comments of a caring, impartial critic whose opinion you respect can help you to improve. It is crucial to remember that your work, not your personality, is being evaluated. In this situation, you should not get defensive, if you do, you will not hear the criticism that is being offered. Certainly, you should take the reviewer’s comments seriously; keep in mind that you do not have to act on the feedback you get if you don’t agree with it. If you have particular concerns, it would be a good idea to write them down or discuss them so your reader can be on the lookout for them. Once you have these answers, find a comfortable, quite place to sit and really study your inquiries. Try concentrating on the decisions that will improve your work, if they will, start the revision process.

The student’s goal is to complete an authentic piece of writing, one that expresses something important to them and does it tastefully. Although the student may feel that their ideas are expressed equivocally by another person, this does not mean to copy their material without attribution. Learn to write for yourself. By reflecting on all the aspects of the writing process, you learn a lot about your experiences and about what to do next. As you reflect, be willing to bet that now that you’ve successfully completed your work, you can learn to move ahead.

Remember, as with anything, you are going to have good ideas and bad ideas bubbling in your brain that it will be all you can do. Assuredly, sooner or later nothing comes and you find yourself sitting and staring at the blank page wondering what you did wrong. This is what you call writer’s block. Whenever you get come to a standstill in your writing, try to determine what’s really blocking you. Once you come up with a diagnosis just figure out how to overcome it but don’t plagiarize. “Though the ownership of the intellectual property in many situations is without clarity, scientists often support a belief of implied consent to the products of the collaboration by any of the former colleagues. It is for this reason, authorities considers these disputes to be that of authorship rather than plagiarism.” [6]

Generally, all humans have the fear of failure; however, the flip side of failure is fear of success. In life, there will be new decisions to make, new commitments, and new challenges to face but if you work diligently success is a guarantee. Remember, once you minimize all distractions, you’ll come up with great ideas for your own research instead of using someone else’s. To help prevent writer’s block and plagiarism in an academic and pastoral capacity, try ending each day’s writing in the middle of something that works well. Therefore, when you start again, you can continue with that section and have its momentum to keep you afloat.

[1] Sataline, Suzanne, “That Sermon You Heard on Sunday May be from the Web,” Wall Street Journal (15 November 2006)

[2] Decisions of the United States courts involving copyright, Issue 24

[3] Roy Peter Clark, Writing Tools- 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer: Copyright 2006 1st ed

[4] Steve Sjogren, “Don’t be original – be effective” Issue #250: 3/15/2006

[5] Famous Plagiarists - Joe Biden War on Plagiarism | John P. Lesko; August 23, 2008

[6] ORI Provides Working Definition of Plagiarism. Office of Research Integrity, ORI Newsletter, Vol 3, No. 1, December 1994

[7] Thomas-Burt, Wendy “The Everything Creative Writing Book” 2nd Ed. 2010

[8] Booth, Wayne C., Colomb, Gregory P., Williams Joseph M. “The Craft of Research” The University of Chicago Press; 1995; 3rd Ed

[10] O’Clowley, Peggy, “Said in Other Words.” The Record (Bergen County, NJ). Lifestyle Ed.; dateline: September 28, 1991; July 28, 1991

[13] Macdonald, Ranald. “The Student Life-world and the meaning of Plagiarism.” Journal of Phenomenological Psychology; September 2002: 90-112.

[14] Ibid.

[16] Kennedy, Mary; Kennedy, William and Smith, Hadley. Writers in the Disciplines: A Reader for Writers. Englewood Clifs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1987


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