In most research undertakings, researchers especially students rely on previous studies that have been done and written by other individuals. While it is necessary to rely on other people’s works, it is critical to reassure that acknowledgement of these works is made in full and in writing. Failure to cite someone else’s research, which has been used as the source in another paper, construes plagiarism. Therefore, using another person’s work while passing it off as one’s own amounts literally equals to theft; hence, academic cheating. Meanwhile, it extends to the representation of work or an idea derived from someone else’s work as original, without giving a credit to the original author. In light of this, plagiarism can be treated as fraud, where literary work is stolen and misrepresented.
Plagiarism is a common vice among learners and is committed for a variety of reasons. While it is essential that students finish their assignments in the allocated time frame; there are those who fail to meet their targeted deadlines for one reason or another. In most cases, failure to submit a paper before the time-limit causes panic on the part of the student; therefore, copying another person’s work appears to be the most viable option (IParadigms, 2012). Meanwhile, there are those who feel that they are incapable of completing their assignments in spite of having adequate time on their hands. These individuals feel overwhelmed and resort to copying other peoples work in an attempt to complete their assignments; as a result, it leads to plagiarism.
However, while there are those students who plagiarize intentionally; there are those who do this unintentionally. Academic cheating can be committed without prior knowledge of the offense, especially in the situation where distinction between research and plagiarism is unclear (IParadigms, 2012). On this evidence, it is crucial that the distinction between allowable referencing methods, where credit is given to the source and illegal representation of another’s work as one’s own is clearly defined.
While most students are required to research the content of their papers, some of them have opted to search similar contents to their research. Doing this on online databases and websites contributes to plagiarism. Most students forget that the purpose of research is to analyze and compare information on a given subject and come to individual conclusions on it in the end. Consequently, they perceive work that has been done by other authors as authentic and presentable. They forget that the purpose of their assignments is to determine whether they understand the basic intent and content of the subject, where the tutor intends to gauge the level of their comprehension. A teacher may give a student the assignment which is aimed at determining the best way to assist the student on a personal level based on the assignment. However, since most undergraduates are concerned much more about achieving the required grade to move to the next level, they fail to appreciate the fundamental significance of the task allocated by their tutors.
Meanwhile, some students succumb to herd mentality, where they plagiarize their work because others are doing the same (IParadigms, 2012). This group fails to appreciate the fact that they are studying for individual reasons and not for group or peer reasons. Therefore, poor judgment and lack of adequate planning on the part of a learner are significant contributors to plagiarism. Students have a tendency of procrastinating with their assignments until the last minute. Later on they will be overwhelmed by the volume and requirements of work leading to panic and, as a result, to plagiarism (IParadigms, 2012).
In most cases, plagiarism is committed intentionally; however, there are circumstances where a student may be unable to paraphrase cited works appropriately. Additionally, there are some people who are not adequately informed on the various citation methods; therefore, their work may comprise misquoted citations or reference fallacies. These are characterized as unintentional plagiarism since they are committed as a result of human error, and not as a result of premeditated intent to deceive the tutor through plagiarism. However, improper citations also belong to academic cheating, since the student fails to comply with the rules that apply when using another person’s work as a reference. Therefore, the students should be careful about using the appropriate in-text citations where the text is quoted directly from the source.
Citations should be made appropriately based on the chosen citation method such as APA or MLA referencing styles. In order to authenticate and protect a student’s research, the date when the source material was accessed should be included and the name of the source and location where it can be found. Meanwhile, students should prevent plagiarism by checking the cited information from the source; indicate paraphrases and ideas copied obtained from the source word for word (Thompson, 2004).
Paraphrasing requires students to rephrase or interpret the author’s words through significantly different phrases. The original meaning of the source must be retained while the credit is given through adequate citations and referencing. Meanwhile, if the direct quotations are made, they should be significantly short, less frequent and should be used instead of paraphrasing. However, the direct quotations should be accompanied by quotation marks at the beginning and the end of the quotation (Thompson, 2004). Citations should be evenly made according to the extent of external sources used in the research.
If there are many sources used, each should be acknowledged on the basis of the source’s contribution towards the research. The same principle applies when only a few sources are used. Meanwhile, if common knowledge is a part of the research, the student should ascertain that such facts are widely used and can be found in a significant number of sources. As a result, one should ensure that common knowledge is not premised on theories, but represents facts.
It is absolutely logical to state that students have goals and objectives to pass their examinations. However, the process of realizing these goals should be without erroneously or criminally obtained success resulting from plagiarized materials. Adequate and precise citations should be utilized at all times when other people’s work is used as a source. Meanwhile, adequate planning and comprehension of the rules applying to the use of source materials is critical to avoid plagiarism.