Plagiarism is when you copy someone’s work and try to pass it off as your own. Plagiarism can be a violation of copyright laws and can be considered cheating, resulting in you getting a failing grade or even being kicked out of school. Students can plagiarize, but so can anyone who submits any type of writing.
Plagiarism In Everyday Writing
Here are some examples of plagiarism:
- A writer decides that he wants to create an Internet website to generate ad revenue. Instead of writing his own articles, he visits twenty other websites that have articles on the topic in which he is interested. He copies each of the articles, changes the titles and the authors’ names to his name and posts the articles on his own website.
- An academic is expected to publish papers but he doesn’t have time to research because of family obligations. He looks through old professional journals in another country and he copies a 10-year-old article from someone else in the field. He submits the article as his own and hopes that no one finds the article from which he copied.
- A student is expected to write a book report about a book that his teacher has assigned. The student doesn’t want to read the book and is bored with the subject. He visits websites that provide reviews and book reports and he copies from each of the different book reports to create one report of his own.
- A student is expected to write a research paper on a topic in his history class. The student had a friend who took a similar class five years ago. The student asks his older friend for a copy of his paper and then takes the paper and passes it off as his own, turning it in to the teacher with his name on it.
- A student takes a large block of text from a book and quotes it in his paper word-for-word. The student puts a footnote into the paper indicating where the text came from; but, the student does not give any indication in the text that he or she is quoting directly from the paper.
Plagiarism Can Be Just Changing Some Words
Plagiarism does not have to be word-for-word plagiarism either. If you copy someone’s ideas, paraphrase or simply change the words of existing text, you must provide proper attribution for the source of the ideas.
For example, consider this original passage:
The legal system is made up of civil courts, criminal courts and specialty courts such as family law courts and bankruptcy court. Each court has its own jurisdiction, which refers to the cases that the court is allowed to hear. In some instances, a case can only be heard in one type of court. For example, a bankruptcy case must be heard in a bankruptcy court. In other instances, there may be several potential courts with jurisdiction. For example, a federal criminal court and a state criminal court would each have jurisdiction over a crime that is a federal drug offense but that is also an offense on the state level.
If someone paraphrased or simply changed the words, as follows, this would be an example of plagiarism:
The legal system is comprised of criminal and civil courts and specialty courts like bankruptcy and family law courts. Every one of the courts is vested with its own jurisdiction. Jurisdiction means the types of cases each court is permitted to rule on. Sometimes, only one type of court can hear a particular case. For instance, bankruptcy cases an be ruled on only in bankruptcy court. In other situations, it is possible for more than one court to have jurisdiction. For instance, both a state and federal criminal court could have authority over a criminal case that is illegal under federal and state drug laws.
The ideas are substantially similar and the second paragraph could be considered plagiarism of the first.