The Misconception that Plagiarism is Acceptable
There is a sad and horrific belief spreading among many writers. I think that no one would do it. I would like to think everyone I know who is a writer wouldn't even think of it. I tend to think everyone is honest and anything that does happen is an accident. But...The truth is that many writers feel that plagiarism is acceptable. They see no issue with it. They are WRONG! But why do they think that? Why?
A part of me wants to blame the internet for the growing trend of plagiarism. In fact, I will put part of the blame on such a wonderful educational tool. It makes it so easy to plagiarize. All you have to do is cut and paste. So, yes. The internet is to take some of the blame, but the weight of it all still lies on the person who committed the crime.
When a student is assigned a paper to write, it is assumed that they will write their own words. Well, at least they are supposed to. The reality is that many are not. Thus, the number of plagiarized work is increasing in higher educational institutions.
A survey was conducted on close to seven hundred continuing education students. The majority admitted to committing plagiarism. They didn’t think anything of it. It was part of their educational careers. But why? (Journal of College student development by scanlon and Neumann)
It could be the Internet….Actually most people do attribute the rise of plagiarism to this communication and educational tool. Why? Because it makes it so easy. A third of high school students admitted in one survey that they brought the Internet in as an accomplice and plagiarized papers. (http://www.plagiarism.org/resources/facts-and-stats/)
In a survey of 24,000 students at 70 high schools, Donald McCabe (Rutgers University) found that 64 percent of students admitted to cheating on a test, 58 percent admitted to plagiarism and 95 percent said they participated in some form of cheating, whether it was on a test, plagiarism or copying homework. (http://www.business.rutgers.edu/tags/332?page=1 )
What is happening? Why do students think it is acceptable to lie about their work? Because...oh, for so many reasons.
Too many students and writers feel they are invincible. Maybe it just goes with the age. Too many young people think that they can just click the undo button in life or just find a previous version and start over. That doesn’t happen in the real world. There is no rewind or other versions. Actions have consequences and must be paid for. Too many plagiarists don’t realize this.
How many kids get in trouble with the law and not realize how they have ruined their chances at certain careers? They can't see beyond the moment and think it will just disappear. But nothing ever really disappears. Including getting caught plagiarizing.
Need to Succeed
Another sad reason is the desperation to be perfect and successful. Students are trying “in efforts to get into good colleges, graduate schools and eventually to land good jobs” which then “tends to be one of the biggest drivers of cheating’s proliferation.” (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/06/cheat.aspx) Everyone wants to be at the top scholasticly that they are willing to ruin their integrity by stealing other people’s work. They’ll do anything to make their parents proud and pave their way for success in the eyes of the world.
Even in the workplace, workers have to be perfect and will do anything, even lie, to achieve that. Stealing ideas is done all the time in companies.
Repercussions...Or Lack of
In academic settings, any plagiarism is grounds for expulsion from a school. Accident or not, it is not acceptable. A few exceptions I’ve heard have been made where the student can show how the accident happened and was easily explainable. The result was docked points on the paper and the punishment of having to write another paper which of course was heavily reviewed. But plagiarism is an offense to be removed from a school permanently.
In the professional world, you can be fired and discredited. Awards can be taken away. Careers can be ruined. This is not taken lightly. Yet too many in the world take that chance and for a spell get away with it. But in the end, readers catch the similarities and bring it to the public’s attention. Yet some continued to proclaim their innocence.
Judges have been caught plagiarizing. Reporters have been caught. Professors have been found guilty. Politicians have left the race with egg on their face. Teachers have been fired. Despite what too many think, plagiarism is not acceptable. Yet it continues to occur.
So what is causing this misconception? Success. Too many do get away with it. Students are successful every day in plagiarism. A friend of my son’s is a genius, yet he copied straight from the internet on a paper because he got lazy and put it off to the last minute. He got away with it. The result is that now he might do it again even though he is smart enough to do it on his own and others will emulate him because of his success.
Laziness and the success of some fuel the desire to steal in the souls of thousands of others. Everyone is looking for the quick way to complete a task. Plagiarism is one of the tools used.
Not Worth It
What they don't realize is that it is not worth it. One author was recently caught using an entire religious book and added a few erotic scenes and changed a few names. She is declaring herself the victim as readers turn on her. I want to ask her if it was worth it?
Your reputation is ruined. It's not a matter if someone finds out. It's a matter of when once you are in the public's eye. It will be found out and no one admits it is worth it.