Posted by Sponsored Post Posted on 30 January 2018

The Problem with Plagiarism in Today’s Universities

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Within the realm of academia, plagiarism is the cardinal sin. It’s taking someone else’s ideas and passing it off as your own. We can call this a counter-intuitive means of pretending to be smarter than you are or definitive proof that you’re lazy. Nonetheless, this is something that has plagued the world of academia for many generations, however, with the prevalence of the internet, the rise of plagiarism is real. More students are utilising the internet and free access to limitless information to plagiarise their way through college.

Why is plagiarism an issue?
Plagiarism boils down to intellectual property. By utilising the intellectual property of an author without their permission essentially is stealing. While within the academic world this usually isn’t met with criminal punishment, students caught plagiarising are frequently expelled or given a zero as their final grade.

Apart from the fact that plagiarism is theft, it’s also counter-intuitive to the learning experience within the college setting. A student is supposed to provide original work with the aim of testing the student’s ability to understand a particular topic. By plagiarising someone else’s work, the student fundamentally fails to demonstrate what they have learned, whether they truly understand the subject matter and whether they can function within a society.

Furthermore, plagiarism reveals a lot about a person’s character. As mentioned in the introduction, it either proves you are lazy or less intelligent than you would like to appear. Because the internet is everywhere, it is infinitely easier for students to plagiarise their work. There is no possible way that a professor can scour all the written sources of the internet to ensure that a student isn’t cheating. Of course, there are software solutions such as Copyscape that will scan the internet for copied work; however many professors are unaware of this. Many colleges around the world have noted an increase in plagiarism over the years. Now, it is essential to distinguish between piracy and “paying for work”.

The internet has also provided solutions for students when it comes to their academic writing. The workaround is that a student doesn’t plagiarize but instead pays someone else to write an essay on its behalf. While most professors would be against this practice, it isn’t technically plagiarism because the student would have obtained the legal rights to the intellectual property due an exchange of currency for the work. Sure, the student isn’t writing the essay him or herself, but the work is still original and while not embraced by academia, is permitted.

Types of plagiarism revealed
Now while we continue on this topic of plagiarism, it’s important to understand the different types of plagiarism based on a level of severity.

Clone Plagiarism
Clone plagiarism is an exact duplicate of a piece of content. It’s mostly a Copy + Paste formula where the student finds merely a part of the material, copies it into their word processor and places his or her name on the paper. It is probably the laziest forms of plagiarism out there and is the most severe regarding punishment.

Similar to the clone plagiarism, the CTRL+C plagiarism technique utilises large sections of text without proper citation and minimal original work. It is used to show that “some original work” is in the paper. However, the vast majority of the ‘bones’ of the essay is from another source.

Mash Up
A little trickier is the mash-up plagiarism which utilises sources without citations and no original work. It’s mostly taking paragraphs from different sources to create a new document. While this is somewhat creative, it still is plagiarism as the student provides no personal insight to the issue at hand.

This formula of plagiarism utilises proper citation, however, zero original work. It’s substantially similar to the mash-up, where the content is pulled from different sources to dupe the professor into believing that the student did a job.

What can we do about plagiarism in universities?
The first thing we should be asking ourselves is why do people plagiarise. It’s evident that if a person has a genuine interest in a particular subject, they will make an effort to do the work. While this isn’t a scientific hypothesis, it is based on reason. The best way to stop people from plagiarising is to prevent the culture of “after high school – college”. It is mostly the belief that the only road to being a productive member of society is to follow the academic highway to a job.

Most people caught plagiarising are not sick people, they just don’t have enough interest in a particular subject to care. Perhaps, we should focus our goals of success on the development of character rather than academic accolades. If you had people who genuinely cared about the particular subject, the odds are that there would be minimal plagiarism found within the world of academia.

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