Creative writing and originality have been lacking in contemporary art of writing. Most writers have been copying words and thoughts from other authors, arrogating that the generated piece of work is new or original, and this is clearly plagiarism. In the same light, plagiarism has had a broad concept, ranging from copying of ideas, and words, to infringement of copyrights. The problem has been consuming deep into academic institutions, with few pertinent solutions put in place. Similarly, honesty and integrity has been declining among the students, attributed to the easy and uncontained access to the internet. In relation to this, the paper describes and defines the concept of plagiarism. In addition, it explicates the history of the plagiarism, core reasons to why it takes place and the entire legal aspects taken into consideration to prevent or minimize plagiarism. Further, technology has also played a significant role through the generation of sophisticated software that aid in the detection of plagiarism.
Key words: Plagiarism, Prevention, Detection and Legal aspect.
Plagiarism is an old problem that has kept on drawing attention of scholars and educators, attributed to its prejudicial impacts on literature and the art of writing. Many scholars have written umpteen pieces of literature, defining, describing and offering solutions to plagiarism, but all has been in vain, ascribed to the rising trends accustomed to facets related to plagiarism. In line with this, Marsh (2007) affirms that plagiarism often shows up under different names: copyright infringement, faulty citation, cheating, stealing, cribbing, misappropriation, imitation and intellectual theft, thus giving a broader base for the definition of plagiarism. Moreover, according to Menager and Paulos (2010), Plagiarism can be defined as deriving one’s work using someone else’s piece of work. Also, Roberts (2008) gives an elaborate definition of plagiarism, stating that plagiarism is the stealing or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial uncredited textual copying of somebody else’s work.
History of Plagiarism
As stated, plagiarism is an old problem, which dates back in the prehistoric and ancient periods, where incidences of plagiarism were uncontrolled and common in various fields especially in the religious sector (Vinod, Sandhya, Sathish, Harani, Banji & Banji, 2011). In tandem to this, pieces of work from the religious category had no authors and this catapulted the freewill of copying and the incorporation of similar materials into later work (Vinod et al., 2011). However, during the renaissance period, there was a change in attitude and scholarship became decently respected and individual accomplishment was highly appreciated and accredited, and this particularly commenced when painters signed their work (Vinod et al., 2011). Further, in the mid 1600s, cases of plagiarism were reported, and accusation of stealing ideas became immensely frequent in various fields encompassing; art, science, religion, and politics (Vinod et al., 2011).
In line with this, in the early 1700s, the first English copyright law was passed, and its main intent was to protect the rights of authors against fraudulent printers and publishers, as well publishers from book piracy (Vinod et al., 2011). In conjunction, some lawyers participated adeptly in enhancing this law, and James Bowell was the chief pioneer in defending and stating the maximum legal period a copyright should last for an author (Vinod et al., 2011). Besides, caboodles of other laws were incorporated in the system by the nineteenth century, and the enforcement of copyrights across borders was championed for by different countries so as to heighten originality, protect peoples’ work and prevent plagiarism (Vinod et al., 2011).
Types of Plagiarism
Plagiarism is a behaviour that can be regarded as a malpractice both in and outside academic work (Roberts, 2008). Moreover, given the remarkable increase in its trends, most academic institutions, especially institutions of higher learning, have made considerable steps in arresting the situation, through distinguishing types of plagiarism and plagiarists (Williams, n. d.). In addition, Quickwit (2004) and Blum (2009) assert that not all forms of plagiarism or cheating are equal, but it depends on a plethora of facets, with regards to the cultural matter and relationship between copied texts and author’s view. Blum (2009) further gives three types of plagiarism, which encompasses of professional plagiarism, student plagiarism and copyright infringement. In professional plagiarism, the concepts highlighted include double publication, incorporation and theft, whereas in copyright infringement, the principal idea highlighted is unauthorized republication (Blum, 2009). The third type, student plagiarism, is divided into three categories: deceptive, which entails buying a paper, using some someone’s freely given paper, and importing paper, nonce, which deals with patch writing or using components from elsewhere, and finally uninformed plagiarism that entails imperfect or poor mastery of citation (Blum, 2009).
In light with this, Quickwit (2004) also gives other types of plagiarism: double-dipping and self plagiarism, which occurs when one, copies his or her own previous work, and it is common in learning institutions. Copying without acknowledgement is also another type of plagiarism, and it emphasizes on replicating from other sources, withal using quotation marks or other referencing conventions (Quickwit, 2004). In addition to this, free papers on the internet also form a type of plagiarism, and it is typically exhibited through cut and paste strategies (Quickwit, 2004). Other types of plagiarism include; buddy borrowing -borrowing paper from a roommate or a friend-and research services and editing, which is an indirect form of paper production (Quickwit, 2004).
Conventionally, plagiarism cannot occur without plagiarist(s) and in accord to this, Williams (n. d.) delineates three types of plagiarists, mainly; the lazy, cunning and accidental plagiarists. Lazy plagiarist is largely the weak or the under-motivated student, who will easily copy someone’s work word by word, without making any significant changes (Williams, n. d.). Similarly, the lazy plagiarists are prone to stealing other people’s work, and more so, use simple cheat sites (Williams, n. d.). The cunning plagiarists, on the other hand, are twisted and more cautious than the lazy plagiarists, and they take advantage of every opportunity of copying, eliminating every form of detection (Williams, n. d.). On the contrary, accidental plagiarists are a bit oblique, and incidences of plagiarism usually occur due to their poor study skills, inexperience, and outdated academic norms (Williams, n. d.).
Motivation and Intent of Plagiarism
There are a plethora of factors that have led to plagiarism or students copying directly from the texts. Williams (n. d.) asserts that irrespective of students potential to think and write creatively, one may be subjected to pressure of plagiarising, ascribed to a plethora of elements. Poor management of time is the most common factor that always amount to plagiarism (Williams, n. d.). It is evident that most of the students spend eighty percent of their time in other activities apart from learning, thus becoming incapable of contending with class workload (Williams, n. d.). Consequently, they turn to copying and other dishonest means, in order for them to complete assignments and class work (Williams, n. d.). Also, persistent pressure from the environment (parents and friends), and lack of motivation are factors that can lead to plagiarism. Further, cultural difference evinced in learning and inherent desires to check whether plagiarism detectors work, can also contribute to the purpose to why students or individuals participate in plagiarism (Williams, n. d.).
Detecting and Preventing Plagiarism
Extensive steps have been taken into consideration, by educators and law enforcers, to detect plagiarism. As well, preventing plagiarism has been a critical part of the academic integrity that is always expected and fundamentally required by all educational institutions, and many schools, inclusive of colleges, have well-defined codes of conduct that prohibit dishonesty including plagiarism (Menager & Paulos, 2010). In connection to this, detection of plagiarism has been much easier in soft copies than hard copies (Williams, n. d.), and different software, have been generated purposeful to detect plagiarism, and some of them include; Turnitin.com, iThenticate, EdiTie.com, Grammarly software and the Glate screening program (Vinod et al., 2011). In tandem to this, devices have been built on literal conventions that have aided in containing and preventing plagiarism over the century (Marsh, 2007). Conventions such as citation techniques, rules, codes and operators, dictate the supposed right and wrong ways to work with texts, thence limiting incidences of plagiarism (Marsh, 2007). Lastly, Williams (n. d.) also avows that motivating students, and formation of effective rubric that can guide students in creating their work, can aid, at great lengths, in reducing plagiarism.
It is obvious that stealing someone’s property is illegal; however, Vinod et al. (2011) attest that punishment for plagiarism largely depends on the amount of material that is copied, and the consequent impact it inflicts on the author of the copied text (Vinod et al., 2011). Besides, severe forms of plagiarism-trademark violation- can attract gravest punishments (Vinod et al., 2011). Nevertheless, in some situations, especially in editing and writing textbooks, plagiarism is acceptably condoned attributed to the fact that most of the readers are aware that the materials are not unique.
Concisely, plagiarism stands out as a plague in most learning institutions, and it is likely to thrive in these settings with few consequences. Furthermore, factors that encourage and enhance plagiarism are on the rise ascribed to the rapid change in the life styles of students, poor educations systems and culture, and the increasing number of free papers and articles all over the internet. However, the pertinent solution to the problem is through encouraging originality and creative writing. Also, implementation of strict rules and plagiarism software, may aid in reducing and preventing plagiarism among students and writers.
Blum, D. S. (2009). My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Marsh, B. (2007). Plagiarism: Alchemy and Remedy in Higher Education. New York, NY: State University of New York Press, Albany.
Menager, R. & Paulos, L. (2010). Quick Coach Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Quickwit, U. H. (2004). Plagiarizm: How Profs Spot a Cheat. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc.
Roberts, S. T. (2008). Student Plagiarism in an Online World: Problems and Solutions. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference (An imprint of IGI Global).
Vinod, K. R., Sandhya, S., Sathish, K. D., Harani, A., Banji, D. & Banji, J. O. (2011). Plagiarism-History, Detection and Prevention. Hygeia: Journal for Drugs and Medicines, 3 (1), 1-4. Retrieved from http://www.hygeiajournal.com/Downloads/Editorial/1597787464plagiarism.pdf
Williams, B. J. (n. d.). Plagiarism: Deterrence, Detection and Prevention. The Handbook for Economic Lectures. Retrieved from http://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/handbook/printable/plagiarism.pdf