Plagiarism . . . how it ruins careers. This is how I would write to students as a tutor.
Although I am writing very firmly here, I’m really trying to help students who might not quite fully understand how ruinous it can be to fall into plagiarism.
Very occasionally I find a student has not written his or her article, but merely lifted it off the internet. There is dedicated software to do this but the easiest way to check it to copy a sentence or two into Google and see what matches come up.
This is plagiarism.
Some students are unaware of the term plagiarism, or the immorality of plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking another writer’s words, and pretending they are your words.
In journalism (and in university life and in book publishing), there is no more serious sin than plagiarism.
You simply may NOT use another writer’s words and pretend they are your own words, because that’s stealing. Journalists automatically lose their jobs for plagiarism. Imagine if you’d sent a plagiarised article to an editor and he caught you for plagiarism. You’d have been black-listed for life. So I’m being kind to my students in pointing out the facts of plagiarism.
The Macquarie Dictionary says: plagiarism: the appropriation or imitation of another’s ideas and manner of expressing them, as in art, literature, etc, to be passed off as one’s own.
Plagiarism is a big problem in universities where students, feeling pressured to get something written or fail, yield to the temptation and ditch any research or real writing, and simply copy someone else’s work.
Curtin University’s official Definition of Plagiarism includes these words: Honesty is crucial to a student journalist’s credibility and self esteem. It is legitimate and appropriate to synthesise the work of others, provided that such work is clearly and accurately referenced. Plagiarism occurs when the work of another person, or persons, is used and presented as one’s own, unless the source of each quotation or piece of borrowed material is acknowledged with an appropriate citation. Penalties for plagiarism include expulsion from all colleges and universities, or sacking from employment.
In all my time tutoring, I’ve detected very few cases of plagiarism by my students.
It is so easy to get caught. Most colleges and universities have easy access to software and systems that lets them quickly check students’ work in a fraction of a second.
Every article submitted is returned in the form of a customised originality report. Results are based on exhaustive searches of many billions of pages from both current and archived instances of the internet and commercial databases of journal articles and periodicals.
So please – don’t do it. You WILL get caught.