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The Uncovering of Literary Theft

Imagine that a student has a paper due soon and it is worth 40% of the final grade. They have procrastinated. They said they would do it tomorrow one too many times, always having something better to do. Time is quickly running out. They are tired and can’t think clearly. They want only to go to sleep but don’t want to fail the course. Their mind starts racing pondering questions such as what will my peers think, what will my instructor say, how will my parents react. So how do they end up resolving their problem?

According to a survey by the Psychological Record 36% of undergraduates would plagiarize. After all plagiarism saves time and effort and improves results. Defining Plagiarism According to the Oxford Reference Dictionary (n. d. ), the ease with which material can be cut and pasted from the World Wide Web has led to a major increase in plagiarism. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (n. d. ), defines deliberate plagiarism as when a writer duplicates another writer’s language or ideas and then calls the work his or her own.

This is the act of copying word for word without correctly citing the material as someone elses work. Another popular act of plagiarism is paraphasing with the intent to pass the writing off as your own instead of giving credit to the original author by citing and referencing the material used. The student might change a few words around and add in extra material in an attempt to fool the instructor. Some students may try to bluff their knowledge by selecting key phrases from a document and writing around them. All these are examples of taking the easy way out of time-consuming studying and hard work.

Underlying Principles Time management ranks as the top contributor for committing plagiarism. The second greatest contributor to both accidental and intentional plagiarism is lack of preparation. Other causes commonly include confusion about an assignment; lack of understanding on a chosen topic; laziness; lack of knowledge of APA rules and how to cite sources; lack of education of the differences among plagiarism, summarization, and paraphrasing and lack of instruction of how to correctly paraphrase. Academic Consequences

Be cautious of falling into the trap of thinking that because a vast number of students are tempted to plagiarize that this reduces its seriousness and probability of facing plagiarism consequences, as the effect will be neither of these. Plagiarizing a paper results in numerous unwanted, negative consequences. In some cases, suspension or expulsion from the academic institution in which you are enrolled can be the result of an instance of laziness. A failing grade for the entire course could be issued causing loss of time and funds. Literary theft could also result in a black mark tainting your permanent student record for years.

You may never be able to study toward your degree again. Proving yourself as a dishonest and unworthy person by plagiarizing in a moment of irrational thinking could jeopardize your entire academic career. Undetected plagiarism may seem as a grand success. You might have been able to fit in an extra night or two of partying, wake up late in the afternoon, shop at the mall and still receive an excellent mark. The result of your plagiarized work seems to have little or no negative effect. Everything is running smoothly and comfortable within your life.

The reality is that plagiarism is a form of cheating and therefore holds back the learning progress of the individual. Students who simply regurgitate other people’s work bring their own academic progress to a standstill. They may deceive instructors and future employers into believing that they possess skills and knowledge that is, in fact, beyond their comprehension. Plagiarism has an effect on the student body and the mainstream society. Preventative Strategies Considering the severe consequences of plagiarism, it is advisable to take some appropriate measures to avoid the charge of plagiarism.

Good time management skills must be practiced and credit given to those writers from whom the ideas are borrowed. Do not copy content of other individuals and use quotations if you do use another person’s words. These two tips will benefit the student immensely by building character and intelligence. If by chance a student runs into trouble, the logical solution is to inform the instructor before the assignment due date. In cases in which, a student runs out of time to complete an assignment, it is extremely important to remember that a late assignment is better than a plagiarized one.

Students will feel better about themselves and the consequences will only be minor. Plagiarism checkers are a very valuable and well accessible tool provided to all students. It is a quick and easy to use online scanner that detects plagiarism guarding you against unintentional plagiarism. The benefit is the review of citation errors and missing references before submitting those mistakes to your instructor. Understanding Paraphrase and Summary Sometimes, plagiarism can be deliberate, while at other times, it can arise out of ignorance.

Paraphrasing or summarizing incorrectly can result in plagiarism. In the Centre for Writing Excellence through Meritus University under the plagiarism section it states, “A paraphrase restates a point or points made by the original author while a summary condenses the main ideas stated by the author. ” When paraphrasing, you are borrowing the meaning but the words should be your own. Summarizing means to restate the author’s main idea in your own words. Understanding Common Knowledge Common knowledge does not require citation and references.

This information is widely known and accepted by most of society. Examples of common knowledge are: Michael Jackson died of an overdose on June 25, 2009; on September 11, 2001, New York City and Washington D. C. suffered terrorist attacks; March 20 is the first day of spring for Canada and the US. Ultimately it is better to be safe than sorry. Experience and education will facilitate a clear distinction between information that is and isn’t common knowledge. Conclusion Gauch (2010) states that there is nothing new about plagiarism; it is a fabrication through repackaging the work of others.

An otherwise honest student might feel the need to resort to plagiarism if he or she is short on time, energy or ideas but that doesn’t excuse the seriousness of the transgression. The use of original words and ideas can positively impact the resulting effect. Increasing awareness about plagiarism, its consequences and how to avoid it can prevent this problem.


Gauch, S. (2010). Sampling globalization in Calixthe Beyala’s Le petit prince de Belleville. Research in African Literatures, 41, 2. p. 203(19). Retrieved March 29, 2010, from General OneFile via Gale: http://find.

galegroup. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com/gps/start. do? prodId=IPS&userGroupName=uphoenix Meritus University. (2010). Grammar and Writing Guides: Plagiarism. Available on the MeritusU student/faculty website: http://mycampus. meritusu. ca (April 5, 2010). Plagiarism. (n. d. ). In Oxford Reference Online. Retrieved March 28, 2010, from Oxford Reference Online database. Plagiarism. (n. d. ). In The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved March 28, 2010, from http://www. credoreference. com/entry/hmndcl/plagiarism

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