Plagiarism Essay

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Plagiarism  is defined  as using  the  idea  or  work  of someone  else, claiming it as your own, and deriving an academic, material,  or other  benefit from having used it. In some cases, plagiarism is unintentional and involves a lack of knowledge or skill in drawing information from a source in a manner  that is appropriate or legal, or that correctly attributes  the creative effort of the author(s). This can take place with students  or untrained  employees who at times struggle with fair use of material in educational or commercial settings. In other cases, however, plagiarism is intentional  and involves laziness, fear of improper  interpretation, unethical behavior, a total lack of respect for the work of the author,  or a complete  disregard  for the legal rights and protections afforded the author by U.S. and international copyright and other laws. These kinds of actions can take place when competitive pressures are high, such as in academic or business settings.

Students  face regular assignments  in their educational careers, and sometimes they succumb to cheating, “lifting” parts of a paper written by someone else, or even buying an entire, ready-made  paper from a “paper mill” and  presenting  it as their  own. Commercial interests often struggle to be first to reach the market with a product, and at times they can be lured by the temptation of “cutting corners” in the process and may plagiarize specific words, phrases, or entire texts to achieve their desired outcomes.

Much  information  lies in the  public  domain  and is available to anyone; an example  is some  material printed  or published many years ago, such as certain great works of literature.  Some information  is not in the public domain  but often is made available to the public if an individual or company simply includes a specific statement  or formally requests permission  to use copyrighted material—documents produced by certain government entities are an example. Other information, though, is not in the public domain and is not available to anyone except authorized users. It may be extremely valuable intellectual property at the center of an organization’s structure, profit, or competitive edge. An example is the original formula or logo text for a specific cola soft drink. In any case, it is important to provide acknowledgment for the source.

Techniques that can prevent a problem with plagiarism include direct quotation  with citation, changed quotation  with  notation  (e.g., square  brackets)  and attribution, and  correct  paraphrasing.  These  techniques require precise application; consequently, they can be misapplied or misused quite easily. Resources for avoiding plagiarism  are available from  the  U.S. government  (e.g., the U.S. Copyright  Office), libraries (e.g., the American Library Association), and most educational institutions.

Today, advances  in information  technology  have made plagiarism detection  much  simpler and faster than  before. Basic searches  of databases  (e.g., ProQuest), specific computer  programs  (e.g., Turnitin), internet   search  engines  (e.g.,  Google),  and  other means  have made it easy to find text that  has been plagiarized.

Consequences of plagiarizing vary. They can range from a student  never actually learning a subject, failing a course, being expelled, or having a degree withheld or  withdrawn  for academic  misconduct  to  an employee being reprimanded or dismissed from a job for lying or dishonesty  to a businessperson  or firm facing a lawsuit for alleged copyright  or trademark violations. In the world of high-stakes business, such violations can turn into legal battles that quickly soar into the millions of dollars. The media often report some of the more extreme or sensational instances of plagiarism. This is especially true when the work in question  has been published  in a major newspaper, magazine, or refereed journal, or the author has been given a major award, such as a Pulitzer Prize.

Plagiarism diminishes  the  integrity  and image of all involved in it—be it an individual, an institution, a business, or a society. Plagiarism can and  should be avoided to encourage  original thought,  increase learning,  enhance  business  effectiveness, and  promote public integrity.


  1. Vibiana Bowman, The Plagiarism Plague: A Resource Guide and  CD-ROM  Tutorial  for Educators (Neal-Schuman  Publishers, 2004);
  2. Caroline Eisner and Martha Vicinus, eds., Originality, Imitation,  and  Plagiarism: Teaching Writing in the Digital Age (University of Michigan  Press,  2007);
  3. Ann  Gaines,  Don’t Steal  Copyrighted Stuff! Avoiding Plagiarism and Illegal Internet Downloading (Enslow Publishers, 2008);
  4. Georgetown University Honor  Council, What  is Plagiarism? (Georgetown  University  Honor  Council,  2006);
  5. Carol Peterson Haviland and Joan A. Mullin, Who Owns This Text? Plagiarism, Authorship, and Disciplinary Cultures (Utah State University Press, 2009);
  6. Rebecca Moore Howard and Amy E. Robillard, Pluralizing Plagiarism: Identities,  Contexts, Pedagogies (Boynton/Cook  Publishers, 2008);
  7. Legal Writing Institute,  Law School Plagiarism v. Proper Attribution (Legal Writing Institute, 2003);
  8. John P. Lesko, ed., Plagiary: Cross-Disciplinary Studies   in   Plagiarism,   Fabrication, and  Falsification (Scholarly Publishing  Office, University of Michigan  Library, 2006);
  9. Purdue Online  Writing  Lab, Avoiding Plagiarism,  (cited March 2009);
  10. Wendy Sutherland-Smith, Plagiarism, the Internet, and Student Learning: Improving Academic Integrity (Routledge, 2008);
  11. WPA, Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement  on Best Practices (Council of Writing Program Administrators, January 2003).

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