Plagiarism: copy, paste comes with ramifications

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Students either do not fully understand what it means to plagiarize, or they are not aware of how their stride of desperation could haunt them long after their college days are over.

Dr. Laura J. Veltaman, assistant professor of American literature, defines plagiarizing as “an attempt to gain credit for an assignment without fulfilling the requirements of that assignment, usually by failing to cite others’ ideas.”

Instructors like Veltman are upset by plagiarizers and find the act disrespectful and saddening.

“I can respect the student who earns an ethical zero,” Veltman said. “But I am deeply saddened by the student who tries to receive credit for learning something he or she hasn’t learned.”

However, most educators, including Veltman, will proclaim that plagiarizing and cheating will only cheapen a diploma.

A Time magazine survey summarizes that plagiarism and cheating in schools are at an all-time high, maybe for reasons not widely considered.

The article by Kayla Webley talks about how technology has impacted education in the digital age.

The study found that 89 percent of college and university presidents surveyed said that computers and the Internet have increased the rate of student plagiarism over the past 10 years. That’s a figure that is not likely to go down soon.

“My experience is that many plagiarists are otherwise honest students who become overwhelmed with other work and let their papers wait until the last minute,” said L. Maggie Fanning, English lecturer. “Because of their strong desire to impress the instructor or a family or cultural pressure to succeed, they give in to temptation.”

Fanning added that the most common form of plagiarism is not as simple as copy and paste. Most plagiarists try to paraphrase or rearrange other people’s material before putting it into their own papers.

Each CBU department lays out strict and detailed guidelines to what is and what is not considered plagiarizing, leaving some wondering if the information is just not resonating with students.

“Many students would acknowledge that stealing is wrong and not bat an eye at getting a song or movie downloaded illegally or using someone else’s words in their paper,” Fanning said.

Although it will not stop plagiarism altogether, students will be faced with much higher risk as technology makes spotting plagiarism easier.

For instance, to catch some plagiarism, professors use websites like SafeAssign, a site that searches the Internet and its large, continually growing database for any type of matching phrase or sentences. This website can match other students’ papers as well as previous assigments.

About Matthew Swope

Managing Editor

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