Plagiarism: Definition Essay

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The Cambridge English Dictionary defines plagiarism as “the practice of taking someone else's ideas or work and pretending that it is your own” (Cambridge Online Dictionary, 2022). The word derives from the Latin ‘plagiarius’ meaning ‘kidnapping’. To further clarify plagiarism, Diane Pecorari (2015) attests that there are three main forms: ‘textual’, which describes the use of words/ideas without correct attribution, ‘prototypical’, describing unattributed words/ideas of another without appropriate attribution and with the intention to deceive, and ‘patchworking’, which is defined as unattributed works/ideas included in one’s own but without the intention to deceive.

Plagiarism applies to instances of both intended and unintended deceit. I recognize that it also applies to both published and non-published work, electronic and printed material. Examples of plagiarism within higher education include failure to cite or incorrect citing of another’s work, misciting sources, and rephrasing another’s wording without the correct citation.

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In terms of current research, studies have found that unintended plagiarism can arise due to the increasing ease of access to a breadth of digitally available information. This is a key consideration and requires discipline as, regardless of intention, plagiarism is highly unethical and warrants serious consequences for any student. Foremost of these is the failure to secure the qualification.

I note with interest the ongoing conversation exploring cultural perceptions of plagiarism, primarily, and potentially, a more lenient view within traditionally collectivist cultures such as China, compared to traditional Western ones (Kasler, J. et al., 2020). The findings from this report recognize, also, environmental and cultural pressures acting upon students, including the value, or not, of self-expression versus a performance mindset that may be focused on achievement at any cost.

As interesting as it is, I am to be concerned only with what plagiarism represents for me as I engage with my studies. As a master’s student, plagiarism is to be steadfastly avoided. Beyond the predominantly accepted view that plagiarism is theft and disavows the victim of the credit deserved, this act would be symbolic of a failure to engage accordingly with the demands of this level of study.

I agree with the sentiment voiced by Graff and Birkenstein (2018), which is that students should approach study with the intention of joining the academic conversation, exploring ideas, and examining the arguments that are alive within the discourse before earning the right to add their original voice.

Remaining motivated to approach studies ethically, valuing learning at least equally as achievement, and engaging with robust research and correct referencing is critical. It has been proven that students with lower levels of motivation are more likely to plagiarize, intentionally or unintentionally, when faced with challenges such as time and reduced self-esteem.

Plagiarism demonstrates a lack of skill, diligence, or ethics. Sometimes it demonstrates all three. It negates one’s right to enter the academic conversation credibly and prevents one from successfully achieving the given qualification.

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Plagiarism: Definition Essay. (2023, October 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“Plagiarism: Definition Essay.” Edubirdie, 26 Oct. 2023,
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