I. What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s ideas, words, or thoughts as your own without giving credit to the other person. When you give credit to the original author (by giving the person’s name, name of the article, and where it was posted or printed), you are citing the source . Plagiarism is when you do not include this information in your paper. There are other forms of plagiarism, as well, such as reusing a paper and having someone else write for you.
II. Examples of Plagiarism
A recent famous example of plagiarism that cost a journalist his job is Jayson Blair of The New York Times in 2003. Newspapers are stories about real events and should be accurate and true. News reporters are supposed to talk to the people involved to get the right information. However, Blair falsified (lied about) facts in his stories, making up events to make his story sound better. Additionally, he took stories from other papers, such as a San Antonio news story, and wrote it as his own. He won awards based on his writing, but when it came out that his stories were either made up and/or stolen from other writers, he was forced to quit and his career was ruined. Because of what he did, no newspaper will want to risk hiring him. Plagiarism can cause a lot of problems for writers.
III. Types of Plagiarism
This is when text is taken word-for-word from another source. You may often copy and paste information off the Internet and put it on your posters and in reports. This is plagiarism if the website’s name is not included and quotes are not used around the information.
b. Mosaic or Structure
Changing words while still using the sentence from a source is as much plagiarism as if every word was copied and pasted. You should paraphrase information – put it into your own words and sentence style – and cite your source.
Just because you wrote a paper doesn’t mean you can use it again. This is also called “recycling.” Once you have turned in a paper to one teacher, you are not allowed to use it for another class or the next year. By not coming up with new ideas, this is cheating. You can take the same idea (after discussing it with your teacher), but you must do more research and write the paper over and include new ideas or expand an old one.
A lot of times, you don’t realize you are plagiarizing. You may have been copying and using the information you found, without anyone correcting you. Maybe you were never taught how to cite a source, paraphrase information, or take notes, in order to write original material. Perhaps you meant to cite but forgot to go back to the section and enter the information. This is more obvious if you cited all along, but have one or two items that aren’t.
There are many people who will write papers for money. Additionally, there are people who think being a good friend is writing someone else’s paper to help them out. However, taking someone else’s written ideas and putting your name on the paper is still plagiarizing. If you don’t write your own papers, you are missing out on important writing practice.
IV. The Importance of Avoiding Plagiarism
Students who do any kind of plagiarizing in middle and high school can get a failing grade (such as an F), possibly detention, or more. In college, students who plagiarize can fail the paper and the course. Additionally, the college can put the words “Academic Dishonesty” on the student’s transcript next to the course grade of F. This may not seem like a big deal, but if a potential employer sees “Academic Dishonesty” on a transcript (which employers require as proof of a degree), they may decide they don’t want to risk hiring someone who cheats. It’s best to never even try cheating. If you’re used to working hard, doing the work yourself, and learning how to improve even when you don’t do well, you will avoid the risk of being tempted to plagiarize later.
V. Example of Plagiarism in Literature
In 2002, a well-known author, Stephen Ambrose, was accused of plagiarism in his book “The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany.” It was found that parts of his book were very similar to a 1995 book by University of Pennsylvania history professor Thomas Childers. It was later found that four other books by Ambrose were possibly plagiarized. Needless to say, this did not help his career.
VI. Examples of Plagiarism in Pop Culture
In 1988, a rap duo, Milli Vanilli, was making quite an entrance into the music world. They even won the Grammy award for Best New Artist in 1990. However, the award was taken back when it was revealed that they were not actually the singers on their album. Someone else had sung the tracks, and they lip synced at performances to promote it. While many artists will lip-sync at big events, it is at least their voices on the recordings. This duo cheated by having someone else singing, and they got the credit. This is plagiarism. Their new-found fame at once disappeared in scandal as fans were angry at being fooled. After all the news and stories exposing their shame, Milli Vanilli (Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan) had a rough time recovering. Needless to say, artists since then have taken care to not follow their footsteps.
Video games are extremely popular in pop culture. Game designers and production companies spend a lot of time and money developing great games. One company, Majestic Studios, changed from their game platform and focused on a new one. Lost in Limbo was released in March 2008. However, by June, players had realized that the game was totally plagiarized, with scenes, story lines, and characters stolen from other games. The game was quickly taken off the market, and the Majestic Studio owners split up. The crazy ending is one of the few original parts of the game.
VII. Related Terms
This is the process of making copies of something but illegally, such as forgers do when they make fake money. It’s illegal, and can land people in jail.
When someone takes something that’s yours without asking, they purloined it. To purloin something is to steal it, to take it dishonestly.
Plagiarism is a serious issue and should be avoided at all costs. There are different ways of committing plagiarism, but even if you do so accidentally, you may find yourself in trouble. Be sure to write down the names of people from whom you found information as you write your paper. This will help keep you out of trouble. Ask your teacher any time you’re not sure what to do.