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5 Reasons Not To Plagiarize

Updated on January 9, 2014

Understanding Plagiarism

Growing up, it is often expressed how wrong it is to steal. The same applies here.

We are taught throughout life that stealing isn't acceptable, so why would you steal someone else’s writing? Not only does this present a moral dilemma, but it is a reflection of the author’s character. In the past decade taking other people’s ideas/ writing without sourcing is becoming the norm.

Many think that they can get away with such a crime, but end up facing the consequences. The word that the world uses when someone decides to take someone else’s ideas to make it their own is called plagiarism. What is the definition of plagiarism? Plagiarism is the action of taking another body of work and copying it verbatim and not giving the original writer their credit. There are many times when plagiarism occurs such as:

When someone cannot come up with ideas

When someone is under pressure of submitting a body of work on time

Research papers are an accumulation of many sources and sometimes paraphrase them. Paraphrasing means to rewrite a body of work to make it your own but to also keep that same substance from the source.

There are many ways to avoid the use of plagiarism such as citing the sources of writing that you are trying to use. When citing a source, make sure that you did enough research to make sure it is the right source, make sure that you put quotations of the part that you want to cite, make sure that you put the source location so viewers can see where you cited, and lastly, put down the author of the source. For example: In his 1999 study, Lowell proved that, “By putting down the author and the rest of the steps above, plagiarism should not be a problem for you at all.” After using a site, make sure to put down the website you found your source from or book.

At no time is it ever appropriate to plagiarize someone’s work. Such behavior in college will result in expulsion. One of the greatest writing university websites, Purdue University stated:

“A charge of plagiarism can have severe consequences, including expulsion from a university or loss of a job, not to mention a writer's loss of credibility and professional standing.” One can also face legal consequences when trying to replicate someone’s trademark.

Plagiarism instantly kills all credibility. A thief that steals money cannot be trusted, neither can a thief that steals ideas. With that said, ideas are inevitably going to overlap. In these instances, simply give the owner credit in the correct manner. This essay will explain how to do so and highlight five reasons to avoid plagiarism: dignity, reputation, professionalism, academic integrity and disciplinary consequences. With these five reasonings, plagiarism should not even be a thought in your mind when you are about to begin writing your paper.

Damages Your Reputation and Professional Career

Plagiarism shames your reputation and can hurt your professional career as well.

The nation might remember the infamous plagiarism scandal involving then Democratic Presidential candidate, now Vice President, Joe Biden. During his 1988 presidential campaign, Joe Biden was referred to a video of Neil Kinnock, who unsuccessfully ran for British Prime Minister against Margaret Thatcher. Biden, who was so inspired by Neil Kinnock’s speech, began to incorporate aspects of the speech into his own. Biden would eventually get so comfortable incorporating Kinnock’s speech into his own that he would eventually go without giving credit to the originator of such ideas. Joe Biden didn’t just steal ideas from Neil Kinnock’s speech, but he essentially stole his whole life story, and portrayed it to the American public as his own. Once news broke of Joe Biden’s plagiarism, more instances of plagiarism began to unsurface, where he stole ideas from Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. With no other choice, Joe Biden finally owned up to the accusations of plagiarism, which severely hurt his reputation, and marked him unfit to run the country as President.

From a professional standpoint, when you plagiarize it shows a level of dishonesty, and leads people to believe that you act dishonestly throughout your career to better yourself, or to make it easier on yourself. It took Joe Biden almost 20 years to be deemed trustworthy by the public again, but in the professional world plagiarism can often permanently hurt your career.

Loss of Dignity

There are some instances where one might be guilty of “accidental plagiarism.”

This is a result of the writer using ideas in his or her paper that are not their own unintentionally. The person did not look carefully and correctly to see if the body of work was cited or not.

When you plagiarise, you are representing someone else’s work as your own which means your are not representing yourself. This one of the reasons why not to plagiarize because it can ruin your dignity.

Dignity means the state of having honor and self-respect. Dignity is one of the most important things to have as a person as this will determine to see if others respect you. When writing a paper and you are thinking about plagiarizing, you should think to yourself to see if you are respecting yourself and the person you are about to steal from.

So before you plagiarize just think to yourself. If you cannot respect yourself with your work, no one else will respect you and that is not for you or your professional career.

Hinders Your Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core principle for colleges and universities. As many post-secondary institutions agree on and Penn State University eloquently stated,

“Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner . . . Consistent with this expectation, the University’s Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect of other students’ dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts” (Pennsylvania State University, Code of Conduct).

Academic integrity forcibly implies that all scholarship must be product of one’s own efforts and those of outside intellectual scholarship should be acknowledged. Teachers are now more aware of plagiarism as that is one of the first things they check whenever they receive papers. If a student who in a post-secondary institution cannot uphold these responsibilities, they must deal with the institution in terms of disciplinary action for consequences.

Face Disaplinary Consequences

When one decides to plagiarize, if you get caught, you will then face some harsh disciplinary consequences.

The consequences of plagiarism can be harsh as plagiarism is extremely hard to get away with since there are many trackers to detect if one is stealing someone else’s work. One consequence as student can face is expulsion from school or college. Getting expelled from school can go on your personal record and many will know that you have plagiarized. The Baylor School stated on their website:

“ Good research and writing involve a host of skills: for a start, evaluating sources, taking careful notes, selecting appropriate quotations, paraphrasing, and giving credit to others for their ideas and words. Students who plagiarize may never learn these skills, and life in college and beyond can be difficult without them.”

The consequences can be failing to learn the skills you need to know about researching for papers and knowing how to cite work. These consequences can hurt you in the long run and be a detriment to you for your future as no one can trust you. With all these reasonings on why to avoid plagiarizing, why do people still plagiarize this day?

Slacking off is not the answer when writing a paper because that gives you the urge to steal someone else’s work. Be honest with yourself and with your paper as you results will end better by showing integrity.

Professionally you can see how it can be a detriment to your brand such as Joe Biden did in his past. Students that plagiarized before are now regretting what they did as they are now expelled from their respective schools.

Cite your work correctly and make sure that you give credit to whom it belongs to as this should give you no consequences later in the future.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      very bad!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Good topic to cover

      I have a question. Can just a generic topic be plagiarized? for example, say one has a health website and talks about the benefits of apple cider vinegar; obviously all the information would have been found from different articles and books. So as long as the writing puts it all in his/her own words is it okay? I've always been confused about that. I was having a discussion with a friend and we were trying to figure it out.

      You would think whatever you write about it there would be a similiar page somewhere on the internet?



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