Plagarism wasn't just invented yesterday

Posted on June 19, 2006

I thought about writing an article about plagarism, then I decided I would first see if I could copy it from someone else.

HA! That was supposed to be funny ... or maybe just sad.

There is a recent report from the BBC saying that the Internet has made copying sources easier. Furthermore, the professor quoted in the story says that the new generation of students see nothing wrong with copying material found online.

It's difficult to tell whether or not students agree with that. It also depends on the level of copying information. For instance, if you are working on a term paper, and you use ideas found on the Internet, is that wrong? No, but it's always good to attribute your sources. Should you use direct quotes as your own? No, but if you attribute the sources, you should be able to use the passages.

It's mentioned in the article the kids use the excuse of not having enough time to complete assignments. This excuse, as well as plagarism, has been around for many years. Maybe the Internet makes cheating more accessible, but shutting down the Internet is not going to stop it.

Teachers have a multitude of options available to deter cheating, from assigning different tests to examining their students' answers more carefully. If a professor doesn't attempt to stop cheating, then he or she is just as much of the problem as the students themselves. Also, if the teacher issues severe punishment for plagarism, that will also curb people trying to get away with it.

Or wait, here's another idea. Why not teach kids the difference between their own work and the work of others? Is that really being accomplished anymore? I've read numerous stories lately where journalists, novelists, etc. are caught lifting passages from one piece to theirs.

Maybe people think they won't get caught. Many of them won't. By the way, feel free to use the paragraphs above, since I stole the ideas from the minds of teachers who care.