Being a member a scholar community, every student has been introduced to the copycat syndrome (also known as plagiarism), probably during the first week of his or her freshman year. We think that each university, college, and even faculty have their own famous cases of plagiarism. Well, no wonder that in higher education, where people write college assignments, research papers, essays, and get diplomas determining their future careers, everyone is worried about his intellectual property.
In a world with easy access to information, it is usual to find thousands of websites with the same content. Some of them are original and some others, not really. When an exact content is copied from a source and it is used in a different place as own, taking the credit for the effort of someone else, it is called “plagiarism”.
Scholars are usually victims of “accidental” plagiarism, they have such an easy access to information that they might believe that this “free” info can be used as they wish without any kind of consideration for the original author who wrote those lines. And, without knowing, they fall in an illegal action that, if it is discovered, can affect their lives and career.
To get an idea about what’s this issue about, there are some cases of copying that were in the public eye some time ago, and even today they’re still remembered. Some famous plagiarism cases are the Joe Biden and the J.K. Rowling case.
Joe Biden was famous 47th vice president of United States. He pronounced a speech when he was a presidential candidate in 1988 about social inequality and access to education for every social group, but this speech was the exact same one that Party Neil Kinnock, leader of British Labour, pronounced just 4 months before J. Biden. Thanks to this speech, Joe Biden earned his place in history, and earned his expulsion from the presidential election.
Another of the examples is the J.K. Rowling case; this one is known worldwide thanks to the impact that her books have in the whole world. She’s the writer of the successful Harry Potter saga, and no, it wasn’t free from plagiarism. When the 4th book, “The Goblet of Fire”, was released, the author Adrian Jacobs appeared. He sued J.K. Rowling for the similarity that her book has with “Willy the Wizard”, written by Adrian in the 1980s.
Even when most of the known cases of plagiarism are related to famous people (politicians, musicians, writers or novelists), they are not the only to be accused of incurring in this kind of acts. Students are also able to be known for an action like this, they can get a big stain hard to clean from their students’ files just like famous people got theirs in their careers. If a student is accused of cheating, even its option to get a degree may be in danger. Intellectual property is not a game, to take the credit for the ideas that belong to someone else is just like stealing another person’s possessions.
There are many famous examples of plagiarism in universities that happened around the world and worth to take a look; such as the case of a student from Ohio University, that was expelled from a semester for this action. She used some text fragments that were a copy from different sites, like Wikipedia, what causes her expulsion from her Semester at Sea program. That is why it is imortant to learn more about copyright and plagiarism and try to avoid it. Another case of plagiarism among students is famous Amanda Serpico’s case, a girl from New Jersey, the U.S. that had to write about politics of gay marriage in her argumentation course. Of course she failed that class, and suffered some other consequences in her posterior achievements.
To avoid this type of cheating, it is important to have excellent reading comprehension, ability to quote and cite, and good at interpretation of ideas, thus the writer can create its own opinion about the same topic without taking another person’s work (paraphrase). But, sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good at writing someone is, it doesn’t matter how talented it is, might happen that some ideas stay etched in its mind and without noticing, makes use of the words of someone else.
Teachers and professors are very good at noticing when two papers are similar, they are capable of identifying plagiarism in their students’ works. But this talent can’t be used for every item around the world. Fortunately, this era offers the tools which can help every person be conscious of the work they have done. For example, there are many websites and applications dedicated to detecting plagiarism, that are easy to use and give the confidence that a person needs to be sure that its work is 100% original.
A simple way to be free of plagiarism is doing deep research about the topic that is going to be developed and get to understand it very well and don't forget to check for plagiarism your assignment. This helps to expand the vocabulary, thus the idea is explained easily without using the words from another person. It’s important to take it into consideration to learn how to make use of the copyright to respect and protect others work every time it’s needed.
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