Education Essays - Academic Plagiarism

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Academic Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the failure to cite academic sources properly, or taking the expressions or ideas of another writer, without proper attribution or citation. It is the failure to give credit where credit is due, in academic work. For example, reproducing another person’s academic work without quotation marks, or paraphrasing someone else’s academic work without citing the source of the idea. According to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, “Plagiarism is seen or defined as the appropriation of another person’s ideas, words, results, or processes, without appropriate credit been given, as well as those obtained through confidential review of others’ research proposals and manuscripts.” (Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1999. retrieved from The Oxford English Dictionary defines plagiarism as “the action or practice of taking someone else’s work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one’s own” (Oxford English Dictionary). This amounts to literary theft, and it has been stated clearly that in the academic world, plagiarism is in fact, a crime. There also exists unconscious plagiarism, which has to do with the writer being previously exposed to another person’s ideas, and then remembering the idea, and being unable to remember the source of the idea. In such a case, the writer might end up believing that the ideas actually originated from them. There are also occurrences of other unintentional errors, such as when authors carelessly fail to fully credit the source from which they had borrow heavily from, as a result of oversight. These and other types of serious lapses occur mostly in the area of the sciences. Unfortunately, in a situation like this, such mistakes might be seen to be deliberate and therefore constitute clear instances of serious unethical writing. Without a shadow of doubt, plagiarism is a very serious violation of the contract between a reader and the writer. As noted by the Public Health Service; “plagiarism is one of the three major types of scientific misconduct the other two being fabrication and falsification” (U. S. Public Health Service, 1989. Retrieved from Most times, those guilty of committing plagiarism are made to pay a dearly for plagiarizing. In some instances, plagiarists have lost their jobs, or degrees and some have been expelled from school, or have their honors revoked as a result of their misdeeds.

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Plagiarism is academic theft. I believe credit should be given where it is due, I think plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, should always be avoided. Copyright Law allows a copyright owner to seek compensation for damages, and willful infringement of copyright can attract the payment of serious fines. When students enroll into school, they are provided with a set of rules and expected code of conduct which have to be strictly adhered to. Additionally, there is the general agreement amongst students to the ethical values which are a part of the expected code of conduct. In a situation where a student fails to adhere to this code of conduct there are rules and procedures that state the penalty for their misdeeds. As a matter of fact, the punishment for plagiarizing can be as serious as getting expelled from school with a failing grade. This has the potential of ruining a student’s academic career. On the other hand, when students plagiarize without getting caught, the consequences are that students might end up not being adequately prepared for whatever career they were trained for, and will probably continue to plagiarize and copy from other authors throughout their entire careers.

Plagiarism can be avoided by properly referencing and always citing sources from which a writer gets his or her ideas. Inappropriate and inadequate paraphrasing is a very common form of plagiarism. It is vital for contributors to scientific literature to ensure that they integrate proper paraphrasing practices in their writing. Also, any verbatim text that has been taken from another author must be as a matter of necessity enclosed in quotation marks.

Another, more serious form of copying that may also constitute plagiarism of ideas is when an author takes a portion of text from another source, and paraphrases it thoroughly without giving credit to the original author of the text. (

As writers, it is imperative that we always strive to give credit to the sources that we get our ideas from, whether we summarize the text, enclose it in quotation marks, or paraphrase it. By summarizing, we compress a large amount of material into short paragraphs or sentences in our own words, and when paraphrasing, we have to reproduce the exact meaning of another person’s ideas using our own words and sentence structure.

There are various tools for plagiarism detection, like software that detect plagiarism in documents. Some sites, like and render plagiarism detection services to clients for a fee.


Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1999. retrieved from Standler, R. B. (2000).

Oxford English Dictionary

Plagiarism in Colleges in USA Retrieved February 17th,

2003 from

U.S. Copyright Office (September 30, 1996). Copyright law of the United States.

Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.: U.S. Government Printing Office,

Circular 92

U.S. Public Health Service (August 8, 1989). U. S. Public Health Service, 1989.

Retrieved from