Plagiarism: Discussion about Stealing Intellectual Property

Defining plagiarism, why it is unethical, and what should be done to help others from stealing intellectual property without proper attribution.

"I think there was far more plagiarism in the last century. It was almost an accepted part of writing. The ethics of writing has changed. Nobody gets upset about whether Shakespeare plagiarized something. But I think the standards have to be pretty high now, particularly for non-fiction writers." [1]

Introduction to Plagiarism

According to most leading authorities, including The Office of Research Integrity, plagiarism includes "both the theft or misrepresentation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work." [2] Because plagiarism is considered to be a factor of a particular culture or a time, identifying plagiarism is not always easily performed. For example, in some cultures, as well as in some other time periods, the idea of plagiarism is not always clear; however, in this context, the chief concern is using plagiarism in academic custom writing, which is quite different from what defines plagiarism within different societies. [3]

In either situation, plagiarism is considered a wrongful act towards the initial piece of work, and when a writer does not provide adequate credit for the a portion of written material, it can often lead to terrible consequences.

Forms of Plagiarism

Essentially, there are three basic forms of plagiarism, according to the Office of Research Integrity:

Additionally, plagiarism is a concept that seems to becoming more prevalent in today's society, particularly within the area of Higher Education in the western civilizations where a great deal of research has been competed and published. [5] Because of the increased demands that are placed on students, some authorities cite access to the Internet as one of the chief reasons for such growth in plagiarism. [6]

Cultural Differences that Define Plagiarism

In order to correctly both identify and define plagiarism, it is important to understand that there are different perceptions and opinions with respect to students and the "world" in which they live. In a research document authored by Macdonald in 2003, any resolution to this dilemma rests within the perceptions and opinions of the students. [7]

For example, during a study reported in the Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, there were twelve students involved in the study who then reported their own individual feelings about plagiarism. According to some authorities, much of the ideas concerning plagiarism, in fact, are learned early in life, when students have no choice but to use what others say to depict their own thoughts. [8] In the aforementioned study, the twelve students responded to specific questions concerning plagiarism and each group of students developed different opinions and thoughts concerning the dilemma; these ideas were developed into three major areas of interest with respect to the students.

In the first set of students, each one experienced anxiety concerning the morality of stealing another person's work for individual gain; the second set of students reflected upon academic development as a movement towards a dependence upon more respected authors to help promote their own gain; and the third set of students were art majors and therefore, they had a self-reliant discipline when it pertains to using another person's art in the promotion of individual art. [9] Therefore, according to leading authorities, one cannot assume that all students share the same opinions and views with respect to plagiarism because all people have evolved through different histories.

Academic Plagiarism and Journalist Plagiarism

Plagiarism is evident in both journalistic work as well as academic work, and each has its own ramifications. [10] For those who commit plagiarism in journalism, the most obvious course of action is immediate dismissal from the company, as the company's reputation is in question with respect to the reading public. One such example (although in the spoken word) is when H. Joachim Maitre, dean of Boston University journalism school delivered a commencement address, using quotations from Michael Medved, a film critic, but without providing proper attribution as to the source of the material. [11] Other examples, especially in the press, have been on the rise of late, specifically when a Washington Post reporter was dismissed when he wrote a story verbatim without giving proper attribution. [12]

However, when plagiarism is found within the academic world, the ramifications can have more dangerous results, as noted in the following passage written in 1999:

"Plagiarism attacks the fundamental principles of scholarship academics and foundations upon which the academic community rests." [13]

Plagiarism from a Historical Perspective

When plagiarism was first identified as a problem in society, it occurred only after the printing press and publications were developed. The idea at that time was not to protect the author (as it is today), but to restrict competition among the many publishers then located in or around London. Cultural history, however, also had an important impact on the use of plagiarized materials. This cannot be more evident than when Haidu, in 1997, made the important observation that plagiarism is more than merely copying another person's art or writing, it also eliminates the need for further development of ideas and perceptions among artists, writers and other similar professions. [14] Finally, if plagiarism is discussed in terms of history and the cultural identity variations, it would be noteworthy to mention that Chinese students are expected to learn the written word through memorization. Pennycook, in 1996, reported that this approach is similar to the western approach of plagiarism and therefore, although the art is clearly defined as usual in China, the western societies rely on their ability to interpret the material and formulate their own conclusions.

Intellectual Ownership and Plagiarism

To define plagiarism clearly from a ownership perspective, anyone who commits plagiarism (to any extent) is robbing himself or herself of the ability to develop originality and use history as a guide, not only a map from which an academic piece can be derived. [15]

Problems in Defining and Identifying Plagiarism

However wrong plagiarism is, the problem that faces society today, particularly with the advent of the Internet, is that society does not appreciate each student's perception of what is and what is not plagiarism.

For example, there are a number of ways to use historical data in an academic piece without also committing plagiarism. When one summarizes a passage or an entire piece of work, he or she must be able to describe the ideas about the text in his or her own words while also providing the proper credit to the person who originally wrote about the specific topic. When developing an overview, the same can also hold true and the writer is expected to provide the proper citations and attribution to the person(s) who originally put the ideas on paper in the form or essay, term paper, research paper, book report, or dissertation. Without the use of attribution, the writer is committing plagiarism (even an idea) and therefore he or she is also stealing intellectual data from a person who first developed the premise. Without the rules concerning plagiarism, anyone can state that he or she is the origin of the work, which, again, is stealing intellectual property. [16]

Plagiarism: Unethical

According to most sources, plagiarism is unethical; however, there is a thick line that divides writers, publishers and others should appropriately deal with the problems. Without any doubt, however, the difference between plagiarisms in journalism is very different from the world of academics. In the world of academics, the writer is usually stealing another's bread and butter; in journalism, where plagiarism is often more convenient, the people soon forget and the damage control continues to modify the employees' education as needed. [17] In either of the two worlds, however, plagiarism is more than merely a misdemeanor; it is theft of someone's difficult work that once resulted in an original thought from an original mind. Stealing from that is similar to stealing one's identity.

Conclusion

"The ownership of the intellectual property in many situations is seldom clear, and the collaborative histories among the scientists often support a presumption of implied consent to the products of the collaboration by any of the former collaborators. For this reason, the Office of Research Integrity considers many such disputes to be authorship rather than plagiarism." [18] This is a unique problem among those who have completed research on a collaborative level, and it has little to do with extracting information from text and calling the information a unique idea. This is when plagiarism is very similar to stealing: the process of taking an item to which one does not belong.

 

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Works Cited

[1] Jensen, Sharna. "Plagiarism by Historians leaves Writers and others divided." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

[2] ORI Provides Working Definition of Plagiarism. Office of Research Integrity, ORI Newsletter, Vol 3, No. 1.

[3] Macdonald, Ranald. "The Student Life-world and the meaning of Plagiarism." Journal of Phenomenological Psychology.

[4] ORI Provides Working Definition of Plagiarism. Office of Research Integrity, ORI Newsletter, Vol 3, No. 1.

[5] Macdonald, Ranald. "The Student Life-world and the meaning of Plagiarism." Journal of Phenomenological Psychology.

[6] ORI Provides Working Definition of Plagiarism. Office of Research Integrity, ORI Newsletter, Vol 3, No. 1.

[7] Macdonald, Ranald. "The Student Life-world and the meaning of Plagiarism." Journal of Phenomenological Psychology.

[8] Jensen, Sharna. "Plagiarism by Historians leaves Writers and others divided." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service; March 31, 2002.

[9] Macdonald, Ranald. "The Student Life-world and the meaning of Plagiarism." Journal of Phenomenological Psychology September 2002: 90-112.

[10] O'Crowley, Peggy. "Said in other Words." The Record (Bergen County, NJ). Lifestyle Section.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Macdonald, Ranald. "The Student Life-world and the meaning of Plagiarism." Journal of Phenomenological Psychology.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Kennedy, Mary; Kennedy, William and Smith, Hadley. Writers in the Disciplines: A Reader for Writers. Englewood Clifs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

[16] O'Crowley, Peggy. "Said in other Words." The Record (Bergen County, NJ). Lifestyle Section.

[17] ORI Provides Working Definition of Plagiarism. Office of Research Integrity, ORI Newsletter, Vol 3, No. 1.

Bibliography:

Jensen, Geeta. Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

Kennedy, Mary Lynch; Kennedy, William J., and Hadley, Smith. Writing in the Disciplines: A Reader for Writers. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., pgs. 19, 44, and 49.

Macdonald, Ranald. "The Student Life and the Meaning of Plagiarism." Journal of Phenomenological Psychology.

Office of Research Integrity Newsletter. Volume 3, No. 1.

O'Crowley, Peggy. "Said in other words." The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey). Lifestyle Edition.




The Best Ways to Avoid Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

Plagiarism is considered as a serious offense because one gets credit of someone else's work without due acknowledgement of their work. A serious concern is given to avoid plagiarism at academic level in order to ensure the fair practice among students.

Plagiarism is considered as an unethical practice which gives undue advantage to the person doing it over others. It is encouraged on many occasions that a person should acknowledge someone else's work if he/she has taken any reference from it.

There are laws in context of plagiarism in many countries and if the plagiarism is proven then heavy penalties are imposed on the wrong doer.

Top institutions and scholars emphasize to avoid plagiarism and academic dishonesty. There are many ways to avoid them and some of the best ways are described below:

Plan your paper - Planning is the most important aspect in preparing any form of study paper. One should pay utmost attention in the planning of preparation of the paper. Planning helps in giving clear vision and idea about how to take your assignment forward, so that there is less chance of consulting other's work because of lack of plan.

Cite the sources - One should cite the sources used within the context in preparation of the paper. Many standards given by prestigious institutions are present for guidance such as APA, Harvard, MLA etc. (Plagiarism Checker | WriteCheck by Turnitin)

Keep sources in correct context - It is very important to keep the sources in correct context. The ideas taken from the source should match the objective of your paper. Otherwise meaningful results will be unlikely to achieve. (Isites.harvard.edu)

Never cut and paste - Never cut and paste from the sources used as it gives highly unethical and wrong impression of unwillingness of undertaking any study paper. There are tools available to check if the material within the paper is plagiarized by copy and paste. This practice is highly discouraged and from the eyes of the marker it is considered as a zero and a negative impression is taken from it. (Isites.harvard.edu)

Referencing - It is the most important aspect of preparing a study paper. Correct referencing ensures that the due credit and acknowledgment is give to the publisher of such work. It is also important for marker as they can check that the information obtained can be verified for plagiarism checks. This information is very critical as little omissions can result in deviation. Proper format should be followed for referencing as it contains important details. (Plagiarism - Best Practices for Ensuring Originality in Written Work)

Academic dishonesty is considered as an unethical practice and morally downgraded as it promotes dishonest culture and the wrong doer becomes used to it which can result in a negative prospects for the society. To avoid this one has to become morally honest and should not participate in dishonest practices.

One should avoid cheating to achieve good grades with unfair practices as it gives them undue advantage over others and concept of fair competition suffers. When a person is not cheating for his own then he should also not promote this activity to help others to make them dependent on their own selves. Workshops should be given to students for awareness to avoid academic dishonesty. The academies are established and working to build the character of students to make them future leaders and responsible person so academic dishonesty is discouraged in any form.

Plagiarism and academic dishonesty can lead to unfair results and fair competition cannot be achieved. The purpose of education can be suffered because of such practice; that is why it is highly discouraged and considered offensive.

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