Posted by: barrmar on Oct 01, 2010
1. A piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work
2. The act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own" - Wordweb (source).
Some common types of plagiarism
Plagiarism is the theft of words and ideas from someone else and using them as your own.
Perhaps you find a great review of the latest Parlotones CD on the Web. It would be ideal for your blog. No problem. You simply cut and paste and put it on your Web-site. You do not credit the author or the source.
Perhaps an article available on the Web would be perfect to complement the range of products that you sell. Simply copy the article and paste it on your site. No one is credited with having written the article.
You are participating in an online discussion about cloud computing. You want to sound intelligent, but have no ideas of your own. You search the Web for suitable material and find it on Helium.com. Three consecutive paragraphs will put forward an illustration of some great ideas. You simply copy and past the three paragraphs as your own contribution!
You eavesdrop on a band practising a new original song. The song is really great and would suit your own band. You secretly take a recording, bring the music to your band and take all the credit.
Found a piece of information that would be perfect for your latest economics assignment? Just copy and paste and claim it as your own. Who will know?
Some copy a paragraph or two. Others copy the entire article. Some simply paste the copied material on their site. Others put their own name to it.
What plagiarism is not
I find an inspiring article by Dissol on My Digital Life. I copy a paragraph, paste it into my post in quotation marks. I credit Dissol as the author and site the source (preferably) with a link back to the original.
I ask permission of an author to reproduce an article in full. Having obtained permission, I reproduce the piece on my own site clearly stating the author, the source and that the article is reproduced with permission.
I get permission from the composer to use a song he has written rather than claiming it as my own.
The consequences of plagiarism
Plagiarism is a serious offence and when prosecuted successfully can lead to severe penalties.
Most universities routinely check every assignment for plagiarism. When identified, the student risks losing all credits towards the degree he or she is studying towards. On a post-graduate degree it could place undergraduate degrees at risk! The student may even be barred from further study.
Google provides a facility to block plagiarists from search engines. You have to produce solid evidence. Links to sites or material by the plagiariser are diverted to a message that shows the person or site as a plagiarist.
Legal consequences of perjury can include monetary and legal penalties including imprisonment. Plagiarism places not only the offender at risk. It could even place the publisher at risk. For instance, a blogger that cuts and pastes someone else's work and claims it as his own on MyDL can place MyDL at risk as well as him or her self.
How to avoid plagiarism
Avoiding plagiarism is quite simple. If you are a student, you are supposed to use your brain. If you are relying on stolen information, then you may as well give up right now.
You are always allowed to quote other sources! Use quotation marks to show what you have quoted and give the name of the author and a link to the source (online) or the name of the book or journal (off-line).
If you really want people to read the whole article, add a link to the article in your post. A common practice is to copy and paste the title, the author's name and the first paragraph followed by a link to the original.
If you really must copy the entire article, then you must include the title, the author's name and the source. Also state whether you have obtained permission to republish or not. If you publish without permission but credit the author, then you may be violating copyright laws. You won't be guilty of plagiarism.
By the way, simply paraphrasing an article is not enough. Plagiarism applies to using another person's ideas without crediting the source.
Most plagiarists copy and paste from the Web. This makes it fairly easy to trace and catch them. There are many tools available to identify plagiarism - some of them are free.