Problems with plagiarism plague students

By on October 3, 2006

The use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author’s work is something that students can easily do. Plagiarizing has become easier to do over the years. Books are now available online, there are more Web sites created daily, and students can even order papers online and skip out of the assignment completely.
With all of these temptations, some students might succumb to this behavior. Perhaps some students don’t realize just how serious an offense plagiarism is.

“Plagiarism is the deliberate theft of someone else’s language and ideas. Integrity extends to everything we do and are. If people have no moral integrity then they do not have much,” said Timothy Dansdill, professor of English and QU 101.

Although plagiarizing is sometimes on purpose due to a lack of motivation, it can also sometimes be completely unintentional. Professors find it difficult to tell the difference between truth and lies. Dansdill explains the importance of learning about identity and how it would help in situations like plagiarizing.

“This is why in QU101 we have to have discussions about what it means to be individual about integrity,” Dansdill said.

Learning the difference between correct citations and wrong ones will help students to stop plagiarizing. Students would like professors to be aware of the mistakes sometimes made when citing.

“Many students were never taught the correct way to document a reference that they have used, which leads to a lot of plagiarizing,” freshman Rachel Wudarczyk said.

Most professors explain to students right up front that plagiarism will not be tolerated. However, there are times teachers will catch a student plagiarizing unintentionally because they are unaware when it is necessary to cite their sources. This makes punishment a problem because many times it is difficult to tell whether or not a student intentionally or unintentionally used someone else’s thoughts and claimed them as their own.

Another freshman student, Lauren Jamieson, shares the same concern as Wudarczyk.

“It’s important to know rules of proper citation because many people plagiarize without knowing it,” Jamieson said.

There are some general rules of thumb about plagiarizing. Whenever a student is using someone else’s idea or thought, students must attribute that idea to the author, writer or speaker from which it came from. Sometimes when students think they are paraphrasing, they are really just rearranging words, which in turn can be considered plagiarism.

There are some key tips that will to help prevent students from plagiarizing. Students should read the book, poem, short story, essay, etc. for content and then put what the author says into their own words. The other option is simply to use quotations to attribute the idea to the author.

Plagiarism has severe consequences and should not be meddled with. If a student has a question, he or she should ask a professor about how to cite something and not take the risk of plagiarizing accidentally.

There are also Web sites available in which there are specific examples as to how to cite a source. One such site is, which helps students avoid plagiarism by educating them.


About Kelly Hughes