There are many issues in discussion in institutions of higher learning but plagiarism in arguably the most divisive of them .The most likely reason for this is the inevitable pitting of lecturers and professions against their students. This resultant conflict can also attributed to the fact that school authorities have an inherent duty to uphold academic standards by going through every student’s work. On the other hand, students are time-pressed in the completion of their assignments.
This essay attempts to review the progress of academic institutions in eliminating the vice.
Various schools of thought have defined plagiarism in diverse ways but all of them agree on one thing: it is a form of cheating touching mostly academic institutions.
It constitutes a number of practices that include:
“-collusion without official approval between 2 or more students to pass off their work as resulting from individual effort.
-falsely presenting another person’s work as one’s own.
-submitting the same, or similar piece of work on more than one occasion to gain academic credit.”(Neville 28)
Plagiarism can be defined as the copying or paraphrasing of other people’s work or ideas into your own work without full acknowledgement. (Oxford University)
It is a blatant or unconscious breach of integrity academically since an individual should prove the origin of their work in order to give the credit due to the owners of the ideas in their work. This straightforwardness is an attribute that applies automatically to those individuals engaged in any academic discourse.
Thus, plagiarism (or academic cheating which it really is) if allowed to exist brings the whole community of academicians into disrepute.
It is a total lack of academic integrity. (Neville 28)
The University of Oxford puts it even more bluntly, “it is not only poor scholarship, but also means that an individual has failed to complete the learning process.
Review of Policies
The copyright laws of many nations make plagiarism and other unauthorized copying a crime punishable in a court of law by fine or punishment.
A work need not be identical to the original to be plagiarism .But it must be so similar that it has obviously been copied. Therefore, any anti-plagiarism policy enactment is bound to be at a crossroads in defining what is and what is not plagiarism.
Many a student has been charged with plagiarism only for the charges to be dropped after a brief explanation to the relevant authorities.
Therefore, there is a need for a more comprehensive approach to the problem inorder to give more guidance on the issue. As Colin Neville quotes Angelil Carter. “Permitting the use of the first person ‘I’ in assignments is an important way of encouraging students to openly present their own words.” This is a most helpful approach that, though not widely accepted, would ensure the elimination of plagiarism in institutions of higher learning especially if inculcated at elementary level. Children at this level should be made aware of the benefits of giving credit to other people’s work when its due and they should also be taught to encourage their classmates to do the same. A further benefit of this would be to encourage young scholars to work harder in order to gain recognition if they are to be quoted by their peers due to their achievements.
Plagiarism prevention, rather than prosecution, tends to be the approach adopted by most British universities. (Neville 34)
Quality checks and benchmarks mean that universities want to maintain high academic standards and so the attention has turned to schools and colleges to educate pupils so that by the time they get into universities they are already equipped with effective referencing techniques.
Cases involving repeated cases of wholesale copying and non-citation have been tackled through expulsion of culprits in the worst cases while the more lenient probationary action has been used for many first-time offenders.
Another anti-plagiarism mechanism that has been successful is the use of relevant software such as Turnitin and Ferret. These computer programs are used to compare submitted assignments with a database of millions of web pages and highlight passages that are directly copied. (Neville 35)
Instructing students to check their assignments against the same has proven efficient in reducing plagiarism occurrences across the board.
“Ignorance of the regulations does not constitute a valid defense if you are charged with plagiarism.” (Princeton University)
The following recommended actions on Princeton University’s website may be representative of penalties that are given to deter plagiarism in the US:
Warnings are given to first-time offenders and ,it can be assumed, points deducted from the work in question
Disciplinary probation for a set period of time
Withholding of degree for a set period of time
Required withdrawal from the course taken
University censure which reduces to a minimum the chances of admission to any other institution in the country.
Plagiarism is a very circumstantial misdemeanor and so the punishment meted out on culprits will very much depend on the circumstances. Blatant copying and/or paraphrasing without any effort of citation should obviously receive heavier punishment than the situation where someone omits the citation of a quote that they reasonably expected to be common knowledge.