Plagiarism is the act of copying or impersonating the work of another person and making others believe to be original content. There are several instances where plagiarism can occur. First, when a person takes written work by another parson and using it as their own without proper permissions or acknowledging the work of the original creator. Plagiarism also applies to copying of ideas, thoughts, copyrights, patents or even films. Plagiarism is considered as advice and an unethical practice in many professions like journalism, publishing, and writing, among others. It is also considered as a dishonest practice and may sometimes call for legal penalties as stipulated in laws of different countries.
The illegality of plagiarism depends on the case where it is applied. For instance, plagiarism in academics may be considered as dishonesty or theft, but not as a crime. On the other hand, theft of copyright may attract litigation process and consequent jail terms or fines. While using the work of another person to car out research or academic work, it is advisable to paraphrase ideas in a way that brings out similar meaning. Moreover, it is worth noting that using the work of other people for purposes of research is not ethically wrong. However, it should be acknowledged appropriately as a source of information. Acknowledging the contribution of another person’s work is considered professionally ethical and is the recommended way of using such information. In some instances, plagiarism is regarded as theft. This is the reason why it is taken seriously why incidences and cases are considered with a lot of weight.
Most academic institutions especially in higher learning are very strict with issues of plagiarism, academic competence and integrity is regarded highly in these institutions. Therefore, academic integrity is very important. Avoiding plagiarism in academic work is a way of preparing students to practice professional ethics even after completion of school. It trains them to be competent in life and to avoid getting things done or issues solved the easy way. Avoiding plagiarism also ensures that students grab necessary skills and concepts as intended by their tutors. Plagiarism means that assignments are copied and hence work is only done for the purpose of passing exams. Some tutors may order retakes for plagiarized assignments while others may deduct marks for lack of originality. Moreover, some institutions have policies where certain levels of plagiarism are awarded zero marks. In other institutions, plagiarism is considered a serious crime that warrants for disciplinary action and may even lead to suspension and dismissal. The reason why learning institutions are so strict about plagiarism is the need to produce quality professionals who are competent not just on paper but practically as well. This also promotes a culture of academic excellence which is reflected in the workforce as well.
Though plagiarism is ethically wrong and dishonest, some people may plagiarize the work of other people unintentionally. This may happen when the use of material from a specific source is not quoted or properly acknowledged. Such a case may happen if offenders do not have the knowledge of how to avoid plagiarism. However, it is important that all academics present original work and practice academic integrity by avoiding copying form unauthorized sources and acknowledging authorized ones when they use them.
Students need to be very careful because their colleges and universities will not buy the explanation that the plagiarism in their assignments happened unintentionally because some people would be doing it intentionally and using that to cover their cunning deeds. If caught with plagiarized assignments, it can be considered cheating, and that can lead to the student appearing to the universities disciplinary committee where the student would be expected to defend him/herself. Unfortunately, redeeming oneself from the committee is a huge task which students find hard to and many will not even appear.
Another way the university can punish a student who has plagiarized the work of other students would be by suspension of that student from the university for a period, and then the student is expected to retake the course when he or she gets back in the university. This is a huge loss of time because that student takes longer to graduate than those peers with whom he or she joined the campus with. Fortunately, the two methods are the most lenient ones that the student can get because there are those universities which will decide to terminate the course of that student completely, and that is quite unfortunate because it is not only embarrassing, but also that student loses time and money. It can cause irreparable psychological damage which would last the individual his or her entire lifetime. There is nothing bad like someone thinking about himself as a failure.
Sometimes, it is not noted when one is still a student that he or she has plagiarized, but it can happen later when someone is even practicing his career. This is also a very embarrassing moment, the more reason as to why people should try as much as possible to be ethical. Someone can lose their job when a degree which was acquired through fraudulent means is revoked. Plagiarism can lead to the revocation of a degree and loss of employment. In Germany, an ally of the President and a cabinet secretary lost her ministerial position when it was found out that she had plagiarized her thesis, and her degree was thus considered fraudulent. Besides becoming quite embarrassed and losing her position, she was also expected to apologize publicly for plagiarism. To avoid such things happening in the future of an individual, it would be important to avoid it altogether since the beginning.
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A publishing company can lose a lot of money in litigations if that the company has published materials which are plagiarized. This is hard for the company especially because the author may have done that intentionally. Settling claims takes money, and litigation spoils the reputation of the company. It is important that this does not happen to a publisher because it affects the prosperity of the business. Starting to avoid and control plagiarism as a student is the best option for everyone to protect their reputations.