January 17, 2018

Avoid being guilty of student plagiarism

Avoid being guilty of student plagiarism - photo copyright 2012 Rick Sherrell

Plagiarism is one of the biggest issues affecting modern schooling and academics, and the damages it can cause should never be underestimated. It is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own , and this definition means that it is not just copying and pasting, but anything taken as someone else’s work and presented as your own, in original or modified form, that can constitutes plagiarism. This article explores this important issue, ways to prevent it and ways to avoid it.

The Rise of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a very old problem – the word itself comes from the Latin word meaning ‘kidnapper’ and entered the English language in 1601, at the time used for the copying of literary work. Plagiarism in all its guises, from outright theft to imitation and simple coincidence, has appeared throughout the centuries in academia, journalism and the creative arts, but it was never a big issue in the educational system until the advent of the internet. Today, the internet holds an universe of information available at the click of a button, and the extent of available information added to the convenience in obtaining it has caused a rapid rise in the incidence of plagiarism in schools and colleges throughout the world.

The Current Issue

Current plagiarism statistics prove the extent of the issue today. In a study conducted across nine state universities, over half of students stated that they had copied sentences without providing a citation, and over 70% admitted to copying the work of others for their assignments. Experts estimate that by 2014 level of plagiarism on the internet will exceed 63%. Percent of plagiarized content on the web from 2009 to 2011 is:2009-25% ,2010-39% ,2011-44%.  The attitude towards plagiarism is also a big problem, with high proportions of students stating that cheating is important to ensure success, with over half stating that it is not wrong to cheat. An equally important issue is detection, with the vast majority of students committing plagiarism not being caught doing it.

Combating Plagiarism

Given the nature of the issues and statistics outlined above, many different things will be needed in the combat against plagiarism. The student perception of plagiarism definitely needs to change, and this can be done by properly educating students on the ethics of work and intellectual property, and the litigations that surround media, journalism and publishing. Effective measures of deterrence are important, and most colleges now penalize severely for plagiarism, which is a step in the right direction.

The best weapon at the moment is plagiarism scanning and checking technology. Catching the cheaters and the plagiarizers is not only good in itself, but also a very good deterrent to stop other people from doing the same thing, and there are now robust technological solutions which scan the internet, digital libraries and journals with high accuracy and completeness. Even the smallest similarities from the most obscure sources can be flagged by advanced software, and this is acting as a brilliant deterrent. However, these new technologies are only as good as the plagiarism policy of the institution in question, and it is with them where the power ultimately lies.

But is it the structure and culture of education that is the ultimate culprit? The educational system overall focuses highly on grades and achievement, and many students feel a pressing need to plagiarize just to ensure that they do well. If academic results were not so reliant on the banking method of education, then there would be fewer reasons and fewer incentives to plagiarize. Ultimate culprit or not, the educational system looks doubtful to change anytime soon.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is difficult to prevent, and in cases of student-student plagiarism it can be difficult to know who is at fault. Luckily it is very easy to avoid accidentally plagiarizing or getting into a situation where you might be accused of plagiarism.

1. Always provide accurate citations in your work, ensure quotes and paraphrasing are handled properly. Consult the style guide for the preferred style manual in your course to guide proper citation. You can find amounts of useful tip’s on your college site or you can use services as Google scholar . Google scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text of scholarly across an array of publishing formats and disciplines.

2. Make sure you use a plagiarism checker for your final draft. Academic institutions often provide a checker for you, though it’s easy to find an excellent duplicate content checker or  free plagarism checker for students available online. Avoid completely plagiarism with the free student plagiarism checker on ThePensters.  Instructors will frequently use software that’s available to help detect when students have plagiarized part of a paper, but you can also utilize these resources to make sure you’re not unwittingly plagiarizing before you turn in your work. You can always find one that is free-to-use. For example , Plagtracker.com PlagTracker is an online plagiarism checker that offers a free service . It allows the user to upload a paper, or copy and paste the content that needs to be checked into a text box. The software will compare the text with all web pages and over 20 million academic papers from different university databases to generate a complete plagiarism report. The report shows the percentage of the work that has been plagiarized and the original sources of each plagiarized phrase and sentence. In this way users can be confident that their writing is unique.

3. Only work on papers with students that you can trust, and never give other students copy of your final work.

4. Write from a strong ethical base. Remember that credibility of your writing depends on ethical system of beliefs based on honesty and morality.

About the Guest Blogger: Julie J Carr is a freelance writer. She writes for the new free-to-use plagiarism checker – Plagtracker. She is keen on new technologies, adores flavoured coffee and books, and likes to visit places where she can enjoy the latter two at the same time. You can mail her at juliej.carr@yahoo.com

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