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Let's Talk about Plagiarism

In all types of writing, it is customary to utilize ideas and arguments from other authors and sources. The entire writing community leans on each other to support their work and ideas. Unfortunately, plagiarism happens all too often as people tackle the writing process. Rather than referencing where their work comes from, they claim the work as their thoughts and ideas intentionally or accidentally.


Time and again, plagiarism occurs among students and professionals in the writing world. This kind of action happens in all types of setting such as high school, college, professional work settings, etc. Sometimes, an underlying misunderstanding of copyright laws and theft leads to plagiarism, and it is solidified when individuals fail to cite correctly. There are various types of plagiarism with some being accidental and easily avoidable. On the other hand, there are also types of plagiarism that stem from pure laziness and negligence. 


To better avoid plagiarism entirely, it is important to understand what plagiarism is and why it is wrong. By learning more about this concept, we can see the several forms of plagiarism and the consequences that follow. 


One of the most important questions to start with is “what is plagiarism?” According to Grammarly, “plagiarism is the act of passing off someone else’s work as your own.” This action simply means using other people’s work without giving credit where it is due. Whether you are using an idea from text, data, an online source, etc, it is always crucial to mention where the idea came from. Additionally, using text from another source word-for-word is the most common type of plagiarism. In some professional settings, plagiarism has serious consequences and depending on the situation, it teeters on copyright issues and infringement. In an academic setting, student plagiarism falls under academic dishonesty with long-lasting, permanent repercussions. 


One of the biggest reasons plagiarism is a problem is that often many people are not even aware they are doing it. While many commit plagiarism intentionally, more fail to realize where they are at fault. Now that we have discussed plagiarism a little bit more, let’s delve into the types. 


The action of plagiarism is a widespread problem, and unfortunately, it is easy to fall into this trap. Whether you are a writer, student, or a 9-5 worker, there are countless ways to accidentally plagiarize the source you wish to use. Some of the most common types of plagiarism include self-plagiarism, intentional plagiarism, unintentional plagiarism, and patchwriting (or patchwork plagiarism). Grammarly and many other online sources emphasize even more types, but after reviewing several sources, I have found the above-mentioned types to be the most common. 


Self-plagiarism is an easy trap to fall into because it does not initially look like plagiarism, but it is still not allowed. It is defined as copying your previous work to complete an assignment or some kind of writing. 


Like most people, perhaps you’ve believed that since you wrote the piece it belongs to you, but this does not stand to be entirely true. Although you did do the writing and you are not taking from anyone else, you are not meeting the criteria for the assignment. Reusing your old work is still plagiarism because you are not completing the original work assigned to you by a professor or employer. Furthermore, if you are self-plagiarizing while completing a task for an employer, you could be putting the company at risk as they are paying you and own the copyright. Fortunately, you can cite yourself as you write. 


Another type of plagiarism is intentional plagiarism. It is defined as “when you claim to be the author of work that you know was originally written completely or in part by someone else.” This kind is typically displayed in a word-for-word copying fashion, and even rewriting someone’s work without giving proper credit is considered plagiarism as well. It is most often referred to as direct plagiarism, and it can even be viewed as the most harmful kind. Intentional plagiarism is inexcusable and is often accompanied by strict punishments. 


While there is intentional plagiarism, there is also unintentional plagiarism. This transpires “when a writer fails to follow proper scholarly procedures for citation without an explicit intent to cheat.” This kind of plagiarism happens when you forget to place quotations around a direct quote. A recurrent form of unintentional plagiarism is forgetting to cite the source or neglecting to properly paraphrase an idea. Like the other types of plagiarism, it can easily be avoided. 

Lastly, patchwriting or patchwork plagiarism is a harmful tactic that simply cannot be considered a true form of writing. Rather, it is a compilation of copied work from one or multiple sources, and the result appears to be something original and new. This action of compiling copied work is an attempt at concealing theft. In today’s society with technology and the internet at our fingertips, patchwriting is not as easy to get away with. Moreover, as knowledge and various texts are continuously uploaded to the internet, spotting plagiarism has become more obvious. 


To avoid plagiarism, it is important to have a solid writing foundation with good writing practices. Methods such as paraphrasing, summarizing, citing, and quoting can help void your writing of any kind of plagiarism. Paraphrasing and summarizing go hand in hand as they give a unique synopsis and briefing about a source. Citing sources is applicable when paraphrasing and quoting a source, and it is always important to cite when talking about an idea or concept that belongs to someone else. Citing and quoting also go hand in hand. In your writing, you may want to include a revolutionary or relevant quote, and to do so, simply include the phrase word-for-word and put quotation marks around the text. Following the quotation marks, cite the source you have used. 


Now that we have discussed plagiarism, the types that exist, and some methods to avoid it, go out and write with these topics in mind! Plagiarism is hurtful for everyone, and you can even hurt your own reputation in the process. Thankfully, we can steer clear of it by using the simple tools mentioned above. When in doubt, cite or credit your source. This rule will help guide you throughout your writing, and it is better to overcite than do too little.

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