Plagiarism can be a challenging problem as students get into higher-level writing, test-taking, and other academic work, so I wanted to make a few blanket statements that apply all year. In its basic form, plagiarism is theft of words or ideas and the attempt to pass them off as one’s own.
Plagiarism happens both intentionally and unintentionally, but regardless of one’s intention, it is important that each student understands the consequences: If I suspect you’ve plagiarized part or all of your work, whether it’s an essay or part of your weekly homework, I’ll reach out to both you and your parents with the hopes of clearing it up. If you’ve plagiarized someone else’s work, you’ll receive a zero for the assignment. If it happens a second time, you risk failing the semester.
Copying someone else’s work and trying to pass it off as your own is lazy and unethical. It has serious consequences in both collegiate and professional worlds, so don’t start the bad habit now.
This doesn’t mean that including other people’s scholarly ideas in a paper isn’t allowed. On the contrary! Sharing ideas is how new ideas come into fruition, particularly if you’re writing a research paper or essay that requires you quote sources. The way you don’t plagiarize is by giving proper credit – literally admitting you pulled information from somewhere else. Whether you are sharing a direct quote, a paraphrase, or a summary of someone else’s work, you must credit your source so the teacher knows you aren’t trying to copy.
Plagiarism happens commonly when students wait until the last minute to complete an assignment. No doubt it’s easier to copy than to think for yourself! Again, you do yourself an injustice when you take the easy way out.
Something to keep in mind is that teachers are keenly aware of plagiarized materials. The internet makes it easy to confirm a suspicion, but I’m also good about recognizing when writing styles shift or even when word choices don’t seem to align with previous work you’ve submitted. Save yourself the time, energy, and a failing grade, and credit your sources appropriately.