People who are exposed to writing on a regular basis, whether it be their job or a simple requirement, face one very simple yet also complicated thing when they execute their tasks-and that’s the concept of plagiarism.
What is plagiarism? Several definitions exist but one very common idea about plagiarism denotes the act of getting someone else’s work or idea and presenting it as your own. Wikipedia, Stanford, and Merriam-Webster has several definitions of plagiarism. However institutions define what plagiarism is, the very common thread among them is that you present written work that is not originally yours, and not crediting the original source.
Aside from the definitions, what is considered plagiarism? First is, when you submit someone’s written work as your own. Second, copying exact words without acknowledging the source. Third is failing to place quotation marks on exact quotes of authors. Fourth is copying so many ideas or concepts from one single source that it makes up majority of your work. Sometimes, even if you don’t copy the idea word for word, but the whole concepts are one and the same, it can also be considered plagiarism. Even when you improperly cite a source, it can be considered plagiarism. There are other examples of when to consider written work as being plagiarized, but just remember the basic concept of plagiarism, so you’ll be able to recognize it.
So what happens when you do submit something that you plagiarized? Is it illegal? Can you go to prison if this happens? Well, plagiarism does not really exist in a legal sense. If you’re in the academe, like if you’re a student or an educator, it is deemed as academic fraud and could cause expulsion or termination. For students, it is the ultimate academic crime. For educators, aside from the possibility of getting fired from their job, there’s also a loss of credibility and integrity. For journalists, it is a breach of their journalistic ethics, which can cause them to be terminated from their jobs. It is not a crime per se, but it is a grave moral offense in the academia and in journalism. However, plagiarism can constitute copyright infringement, which is violating the rights of a copyright holder, such as reproducing and distributing the intellectual property of written works such as books.
It may seem complicated but here are some tips to avoid plagiarism. First of all, you have to understand what plagiarism is, so you know if what you’re doing is plagiarism or not. Second, is do your research. Read and get information from several sources, not just one. When you do start your work, practice paraphrasing-write everything as you understand it-in your own words. Simply replacing words with synonyms or rearranging them is not enough. Do not forget to place appropriate symbols, like quotation marks. And lastly, if you’re in doubt, there are several tools online that can check if your work has some copied ideas or words in them. PlagiarismChecker.com, Copyscape, Plagiarisma.net, and Turnltln are the more popular tools that you can use.
Plagiarism is easy to understand and avoid-just remember what it is and what things you can do to submit written work that’s originally yours.