A Guide To Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act by which an author imitates or uses another author's ideas or words and credits them as his own original work. In short, it is the process of stealing another person's work and using it as one's own. Worth noting, the word plagiarism comes from the Latin world plagiary, meaning to kidnap. Sometimes plagiarism may be unintentional when an individual forgets to use quotations or uses improper citations. However, this is still considered plagiarism as it fails to credit the original author. Plagiarism has been a centuries old controversy in both academia and journalism. Although plagiarism is related to copyright infringement through the nature of the act, they are two different offenses. Copyright infringement is the violation of an individual who holds a copyright claim by the use of copyrighted material without consent. On the other hand, plagiarism is related to false claims of original works and the unearned reputation of the author guilty of plagiarism. It is important to note that plagiarism is more than just word-for-word copying of another's work, it is also the stealing of ideas and theories without proper credit.

Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct: the American Historical Society's take on plagiarism.

The Academic Plagiarism Act: a copy of the act created to deter plagiarism in Illinois.

Citation and Plagiarism: a library resource guide to giving proper credit when using portions of other authors' words and ideas.

Avoiding Plagiarism: a guide to upholding the standards of ethical writing.

There are three major types of plagiarism: academic, journalistic, and online. In the academic world of students and professors, plagiarism of papers, dissertations, or even published work is referred to academic dishonesty. Consequences of academic plagiarism include the failure of a course, expulsion, or job termination. The second type of plagiarism brings journalistic ethics into play. Journalists caught plagiarizing are commonly punished through suspension or termination. Additionally, the creation of the Internet has made plagiarism much easier. Its wealth of online articles and reports puts the physical copies of an author's work online in the form of electronic text. Luckily, online plagiarism detectors have been developed to catch individuals attempting to use information published in the depths of the Internet as their own.

Today's world is competitive both professionally and academically. This factor alone can cause a person to turn to plagiarism instead of using his own words or ideas. In academia, students feel pressured to complete their assignments in a speedy manner that still produces quality work. Especially at the university level, students may be overwhelmed by the heavy workloads or feel intellectually inadequate and thus resort to plagiarism. With the advent of the Internet, it is easy just to copy and paste someone else's work into your own. For journalists, the same pressures are relevant. The will to succeed with minimum effort causse many to steal others' works without proper credit. As journalism is based on honesty to the public, it can forever destroy a reporter's reputation and end careers. In online plagiarism, the act of copying and pasting is known as content scraping. Aside from the plagiarism detectors, many websites and blogs have instituted a few features to deter plagiarism. For instance, some sites have disabled the ability of a user to right click, which makes copying and pasting impossible. As well, some have included copyright warning signs and banners on their sites.

What is the Price of Plagiarism?: an article from the Christian Science Monitor on the penalties involved with plagiarism.

DOC Cop: an example of an online plagiarism detector.

Digital Plagiarism: an overview of the effects the Internet has on the accessibility of plagiarism.

Another type of plagiarism is known as self-plagiarism or recycling fraud. It is the reuse of one's own work without the acknowledgement or proper citation. It is generally only an ethical issue when the author passes it off as new material in both publishing and academic work. The offense of self-plagiarism does not apply to opinion papers or articles as found in newspapers. The concept of self-plagiarism is extremely hard to identify as it is an author's own work and a minimal amount of self-plagiarism is widely accepted. As well, there are currently five factors that justify reuse of one's own material:

  1. In order to lay the groundwork for a second work that expands on the original material.

  2. In order to completely explain a new contribution in detail.

  3. New evidence or arguments require the original material to be properly dealt with.

  4. The audience of both works was so diverse that the original material must be repeated in order to clarify the message of the new material.

  5. The belief that the author said it best the first time and sees no need to alter the text.

Self-Plagiarism: an overview of the controversies involved in reusing one's own work.

SPLAT: a tool from the University of Arizona for detecting self-plagiarism.

Self-Plagiarism of Fair Use?: an article that discusses the legal difference between the two.