Plagiarism

I wouldn’t believe a person who tells he or she has never been tempted to use at least one line of a huge store of centuries’ wisdom at hand in order to achieve better at school or college. For some people, it would be accompanied by remorse, for others the process of copying is absolutely unconscious. In any case the term used to label the phenomenon will sound the same: plagiarism. It sounds almost like a diagnosis and it is, in fact. But I wouldn’t say it refers only to those who copy from others’ books or term papers. To me, the diagnosis is to the society values as a whole, for it is a phenomenon, the range of which is indeed much broader and more complex than simple “cribbing”.

The task of the paper made me reflect for a while on several aspects related to plagiarism. First of all, I tried to think of all possible reasons, why a person can tend to do commit the action and I came to the conclusion that there are three basic reasons. The first case is the most peculiar one because the person uses others’ ideas almost unconsciously, without thinking whether it is possible to do or not. In fact, he or she doesn’t even realize the fact of stealing ideas as in the course of time the process appears to be so smooth and automatic that the link between the original source and the outcome is eliminated in the mind of such a person. The case does not only occur in academic or professional spheres but also in everyday life. All of us know people who are used to repeating other people’s phrases and opinions as if they were their own without even realizing it. Overall, psychologically, this seems to be the strangest case of plagiarism, a kind of metal and linguistic kleptomania.

The second reason can be seen from two angles: one can say that people plagiarize when they have no time to create original works, but it seems to be a lame excuse. Being honest with oneself and the others, one can tell the truth: the person is just lazy to do the work and have no wish to think on their own. My personal experience tells me that laziness and the lack of time are surprisingly connected.

As for me, the third reason seems to be the most burning, and it is actually this reason that made me view plagiarism in a broader context. A bulk of people plagiarizes because they want to get a good grade. Why does this reason concern me most of all? It is because the two previous reasons are generated by people themselves, whereas this very reason is very much due to the system of education. To my mind, as long as a person takes the grade as the main purpose of their education (and as long a teachers take it this way!), one doesn’t have to be surprised that people prefer stolen ideas to a bad mark. I am not a teacher, so I can hardly go as far as suggesting the method of changing our education system within the frames of this paper, but I am absolutely convinced there should be something to be done about it. In my opinion, the aim of education should be teaching students to think on their own and creativity should go before grammatical correctness because there is a spelling checker for word but there in nothing to assess human thoughts and imagination.

Before writing the essay I read the article, which names a few reasons why a person should avoid plagiarism. The reasoning confined mainly to two aspects: easy detection and ethical concerns. Unfortunately, I don’t think these two are going to make a significant change. The first one is practically helpful as it can indeed reduce direct copying from the Internet, which is so easily available to everyone nowadays. But it won’t help to avoid more secure ways like buying papers. As for the ethical reason, I don’t think it right to base students’ wish to write their own papers on the scruples of conscience. Neither it is moral in itself. “You should think on your own because otherwise we will catch you” or “You should think on your own if you don’t want to be a bad person” don’t sound like proper argumentation for the issue, do they?

To my mind, the focus should be entirely different. Of course, the method of detecting plagiarism should be applied but it can only give a result as a practical vehicle, without touching a student’s idea of what he or she wants to be or do. I insist on my previous argument that one of the most considerable factors contributing to plagiarism is a person’s wish to get a good grade. I believe, educators should work out a systemic concept how to shift the main concern of learning from correctness assessment to creativity assessment. Ideally, a person should realize that where there is no development, there comes degradation. A person should write papers not for the teacher and not for the grade but for his or her own progress as a person. From early childhood, kids are to be brought up to realize the main sense of learning, so as to make them aware as teenagers and adults that their brain needs their papers more than their teachers.

There is little doubt that the problem of plagiarism as a desire of better academic achievement is quite complex and there is no easy solution for it. Yet, efforts should be made by the people in charge to eliminate as more negative factors as possible and create at least some positive reasoning instead of those bases on fear.

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