Digital technology makes copying and pasting easy, of course. But that is the least of it. The Internet may also be redefining how students 8212; who came of age with music file-sharing, Wikipedia and Web-linking 8212; understand the concept of authorship and the singularity of any text or image.
I just plagiarized about plagiarizing. That entire paragraph was not written by me. All I had to do was copy and paste from The New York Times website, and voila, it looks like I just wrote a brilliant synopsis on the state of plagiarism in this nation.
I did not attribute my work. I pulled a pertinent, well-written section of the article, “Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age,” without putting quotation marks around words that were not mine. I did not give credit to the article’s author, Trip Gabriel. If I had not just given you my confession and the actual source of the first paragraph, you probably would have never known. However, if I had been caught, I would have been in severe trouble.
If writing this article had been an assignment for a class, my professor may have been able to catch me through searching Google for a couple of sentences that did not look like my writing or by utilizing anti-plagiarism sites like turnitin.com. If caught, I would have received a zero on the assignment and my academic dean would have been notified. More serious repercussions would have resulted from there.
According to a recent study by Donald L. McCabe, a business professor at Rutgers University and an official from the Center for Academic Integrity, around 40 percent of 14,000 undergraduate students surveyed admitted to plagiarizing a few sentences in written assignments.
I am sure you have seen the university’s definition of plagiarism in all of your syllabi. If you have not, the handbook’s definition of plagiarism is, “the appropriation, theft, purchase or obtaining by any means another’s work, and the unacknowledged submission or incorporation of that work as one’s own offered for credit.”
I would hope that at a university where we strive to be, “ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community,” and sign an honor code that states, “As a member of the TCU community, I will work to actively create an environment of academic integrity. On my honor, I will not participate in any form of academic misconduct,” plagiarism would not cloud our reputation.
I’m not ignorant or too idealistic to think it does not actually happen here. My professor pleaded with my class not to plagiarize this semester because she has had at least one student plagiarize in every previous semester.
We are ethical and responsible university students and we need to act like it.
“I didn’t have time.’ “It was easier.’ “I don’t know exactly what counts as plagiarism.’ “I thought it was common knowledge.’
These are not valid or acceptable excuses.
If you were not aware of what plagiarism was before, you know now. No matter how easy or how short on time you think you are, choose not to plagiarize.
Claire Taussig is a communication studies and sociology double major from Limon, Colorado.