Plagiarism is a graver issue than you think

By Priya Chetty on April 18, 2015

Plagiarism may seem to be a little word but it has brought down many famed people with its might like Victor Ponta (ex-PM of Romania) and the ex-President of Hungary Pal Schmitt; whereas some others like Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, Helen Keller and Martin Luther King, Jr. got away with the act without serious consequences. Each one of the accused has one line to their defense- they were unaware that their content was plagiarized. But today with so many advanced anti-plagiarism software available, is ignorance really a good excuse?

What is plagiarism?

A lot of writers who are new to the sphere of writing have trouble understanding plagiarism. It’s actually quite simple; anything copied from other people’s work. Now the problem understanding something so simple is this: Researchers think that it is ok to copy content as long as it is cited. No quotation marks, no page numbers.

During my experience as a Project Handler, I’ve interacted with many scholars and some of their comments make me laugh even today:

  • “But if I summarise another author’s findings in different words, won’t he (or she) feel bad? Wouldn’t they feel better if I used the exact same words and gave them credit for it”?
  • “But I never copy-pasted anything, I typed those sentences in the document”.
  • “I thought Google Books don’t count”.
  • “I inserted the reference after copying the sentence”!

8 basic rules to abide by

  1. Anything copied without quotation marks and citation (with page number) from any existing source is plagiarism. This includes graphs, figures and even cartoons. Basic rule: give credit to the original author in your paper.
  2. Even then, you cannot copy much content in your paper. 5-6% of the total word count is acceptable.
  3. References should be in original and not fabricated.
  4. Paraphrasing might help you escape but it results in a poor quality paper.
  5. There are highly advanced software applications available which can detect plagiarism from deep rooted sources within minutes, like Writecheck.com, Turnitin.com and Grammarly.com. Most universities and institutions today subscribe to such software, so it’s practically impossible to get away with plagiarism.
  6. It’s important to list the sources at the end of the document in the “Works Cited” or “References” page.
  7. Using repetitive content or copying your own sentences in the same document or a different paper is a strict no, this can also lead to plagiarism. Never reuse content.
  8. I find it imperative to remind you again that with so many anti-plagiarism software applications that we use today, you can never get away with a deliberate act of plagiarism. Every plagiarism act will carry serious consequences at any stage of your life.
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