Plagiarism Discussion

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Plagiarism: Definition and Consequences

Plagiarism is defined as taking or borrowing someone else's original ideas without their permission and passing them off as your own. It can be done in a variety of ways and is considered a serious offense in today's world. Plagiarism is defined as using ideas from an existing source in one's own work without citing the source. Using a production without crediting the source and committing blatant theft are also examples of plagiarism that can be prosecuted as copyright violations in a court of law. Because you are stealing someone else's work and making people believe it is your own, it is considered fraud. It is possible for different individuals to have similar ideas but the manner in which they are expressed cannot be the same. In writing or producing any material, the way the ideas are packaged and arranged will always be different. Considering the seriousness of the offense in the current generation, plagiarism needs to be avoided at all costs (Azua, 2005). Also, the public should be informed of the underlying consequences in case one is found guilty of the crime. This essay discusses plagiarism in depth and gives ideas on how to avoid the offense. It also addresses the consequences of accidental and purposeful plagiarism.

Forms and Examples of Plagiarism

Different acts are considered plagiarism. For instance, labelling someone else's work as your own, taking quotations from other texts without putting them in quotation marks. Some ideas may be copied directly while other individuals may choose to copy the sentence structure, which is also considered a crime (Azua, 2005). Plagiarism can also be in the form of wrong citation. For instance, an individual writing an annotated bibliography may give incorrect information about one of the books or journal articles. If this is proved, then the writer can be sued for plagiarism. If another person's ideas construct most of your work, the owner of the original work is also justified to charge for plagiarism.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Much as it is easy to make plagiarism errors, they can also be avoided. For a writer or producer of a work to be credited with the copyright, it must be considered entirely original and free from any borrowed ideas. The first caution to avoid plagiarism is by making quotations exactly as they are. In written works, especially in literature, scholars may need to make direct quotations from an existing work (Azua, 2005). The quotation should have no difference with the original one and should include all punctuations. Putting it in punctuation marks makes the reader understand that it is a direct quote. Afterwards, correct citations should be made using preferred guidelines. For instance, MLA citations require that one writes the author's name as well as the page number of the material used. APA guidelines require that the writer notes the author and the year of publication of the original material. This helps to avoid copyright issues and accusations of plagiarism.

While writing, one may have to borrow different ideas from different materials. For instance, in writing a research project, it is mandatory to discuss the literature review. This involves critically analyzing existing theories and materials on the topic of discussion (Watkins, 2008). While writing a literature review, it is important to paraphrase borrowed ideas and wordings, a step that makes work original and erases similarities with other documents. While paraphrasing, a writer should avoid specifics and details, making the paraphrased work briefer than the original text. Paraphrased work should be general and any specifics or examples should be a writer's own creation. It is not wrong to borrow ideas from other works but it does not include examples. It is, therefore important for a writer to understand the concept they are writing about so that they can come up with their own examples.

Main ideas and definitions should be summarized in a writer's own words. In the case where one needs to use the exact definition as stated in an existing material, it should be quoted and credited to the first person to define it in that manner. Giving a summary of detailed facts also helps to avoid similarities with other works (Shafer, 2014). Paraphrasing and summarizing other people's ideas are not enough to make work free of plagiarism. If the style is similar to another author's work, it is not considered original. Everyone has a unique style of writing, and to make a work original, it is necessary for one to employ their unique style (Watkins, 2008). When writing, one should avoid too many direct quotations because they will make the work look similar to the original version (Suseela, 2016). To paraphrase effectively, a writer should read existing material and understand it fully. In the event they want to borrow ideas, they should keep the material out of sight and write as their composition. However, when making direct quotations one is allowed to copy and paste so as to maintain the originality of the quote.

When writing scholarly articles and academic work, the student should try as much as possible to use author tags (Suseela, 2016). Essays that are not reflective require factual arguments and citations of where they were derived from. For instance, a writer would indicate, "According to Mark Smith..." Using author tags means that they are acknowledged in the work and in case of any copyright issues, it would be easier to claim the originality of the work.

Consequences of Plagiarism

In case of a plagiarism offense, the individual accused of fraud faces consequences according to the provisions of the law. Plagiarism can be categorized into accidental and intentional plagiarism. It can be classified as accidental if an individual fails to properly give credit to the original source of ideas and quotations. Accidental plagiarism is common and can be detected in minimal amounts in a single work. The penalties of accidental plagiarism are normally light compared to intentional plagiarism. This occurs when an individual uses the copy and paste options for a different work and labels it their own.

Accidental plagiarism does not often attract heavy penalties because most of the time, authors only sue for serious crimes of fraud. Accidental plagiarism mostly attracts serious warnings and a red light in case of another occurrence of the offense by the same person. However, the consequences are likely to be more serious for students, especially those in college (Watkins, 2008). Such mistakes, if discovered, attract low grades for students. They also cause a loss of trust from the tutors because once a student does the mistake once, there is a likelihood of another occurrence.

Unintentional plagiarism creates poor student records in their files. Also, for institutions which regard the offense seriously, the student may be suspended. If the author of the original work is informed, they may also press charges in a court of law, especially for students who are considered adults. Some institutions may require students who plagiarize to repeat the assessment of their papers, which is time-consuming and a waste of resources. For professionals, plagiarism in reports and written works attracts penalties and poor work ethics. For a serious offense, one may lose their job or receive a warning that is filed in the records for future reference.

Intentional plagiarism attracts more serious consequences, regardless of whether it is self-plagiarism or copying from another author's work. Materials that are published or produced in the United States after 1989 are protected by copyright. Even if the notice may not be attached to some of the materials, the authors have a mandate to sue the plagiarist as long as the publication lies in the required bracket. Most individuals do not take the offense seriously. However, tertiary institutions and professional organizations are keen towards plagiarized work. In the event where an individual is accused of plagiarism, they are charged as per the regulations of Sub-Section 102, 401, and 405 (Watkins, 2008). In the case where the plagiarist included an original work only as part of the entire project, the act is still considered plagiarism. The court concentrates on the offense more, rather than what was done right (Azua, 2005). Another bill that justifies the condemnation of plagiarism is the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) law, which was introduced as a bill to stop online piracy of copyrighted materials. Legislation against plagiarism is not only in the United States but also in other countries all over the world. However, the penalties have varying consequences. Most of the penalties are calculated depending on how much the plagiarist has made using the copied material.


Plagiarism should be condemned in all fields, including learning institutions, professional settings, and in personal writing. It should be regarded with the weight it deserves so that individuals can try all means possible to avoid it.


Azua, M. (2005). Plagiarism. [Place of publication not identified]: Actarbirkhauser.

Shafer, S. (2014). Plagiarism Is Plagiarism Is Plagiarism. Anesthesia & Analgesia, 118(1), 1-2.

Suseela, V. (2016). Plagiarism: The Academic Dishonesty The Significance of Anti-plagiarism Software (Tools) in Plagiarism Detection. Pearl: A Journal Of Library And Information Science, 10(1), 11.

Watkins, H. (2008). Plagiarism. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.

Williams, H. (2008). Plagiarism. Detroit, Mich.: Greenhaven Press.

August 09, 2021
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