Plagiarism refers to the stealing of another person’s intellectual property without giving proper acknowledgement or citation. Roig (2006) defines the traditional meaning of plagiarism as the taking of words, images, and/or ideas from an author and presenting them as one’s own work. Unintentional plagiarism can be defined as “careless research habits” (Kirszner & Mandell, 2011). Certain considerations to the moral implications of plagiarism must be explored through work of Hansen, Stith, and Tesdell (2011) as “not the act of copying another another’s work or ideas and alleging it as your own, but the greater concern is the violation of moral and ethical standards.” A moral exploration will be embedded into the work to consider the intent prior to the submission of plagiarism. Buranen and Roy (1999) argue in their work that plagiarism can be considered as similar to forgery because plagiarism deals with the act of presenting the work of other as his or her own work. While unintentional plagiarism is serious, it is not as clearly defined as literary “theft” like intentional plagiarism.
An issue with plagiarism is that it is broad in scope. It also includes unintentional plagiarism that is not so clearly defined or treated. However, something that is labeled as “unintentional” simply cannot be considered “kidnapping” or “theft.” There is a different moral obligation to help teach student to improve in the event this mistake happens early in their academic career. Different considerations and consequences may be enforced by academia when plagiarism is unintentional. The key difference in the response should be the nature, intent, and frequency of any episodes of plagiarism. The work of Marsh (2007) is equally vital since it has provided that different labels of plagiarism can include “cheating, improper citation, misappropriation, copyright infringement or literary theft among others.” In simple terms, plagiarism refers to the act of presenting another person’s ideas or words to make it appear as your own by purposefully or inadvertently passing a quoted passage in a paper as one’s own and by not including quotation marks and documentation (Kirszner and Mandell, 2011). The work of Scanlon (2007) argues that plagiarism embodies two indiscretions – theft and imposture.
The following is the primary research question:
What is the problem with unintentional plagiarism?
Follow-up questions are:
What is the best scholarly definition of plagiarism?
What are the consequences of plagiarism?
What is the difference between intentional plagiarism and unintentional plagiarism?
Is there a moral separation between the two types of plagiarism?
What are the institutional responsibilities for the treatment of plagiarism?
Should the response to unintentional plagiarism be the same as intentional plagiarism?
Are there new technologies that could help support academia in plagiarism prevention?
It is the easy way out for academia to simply label unintentional plagiarism as equal to intentional plagiarism. The issue that remains is the moral argument of intent – mistakes can be made by students that are not acts of deceit or theft of literary work for personal gain. Sometimes it is simply an oversight, being in a hurry, or just not having adequate education.
It is vital, regardless of intent, that every student uses their own words when paraphrasing sentences before submitting the paper to their professors. That cannot be undermined. Quotation marks must be used for any sentence that has been cited in a verbatim manner that was copied from another author. Academic students must also acknowledge every source that was used in the writing of any school papers every time. Quotation marks and proper referencing are useful tools that should be strictly followed by students to avoid any incidence of plagiarism. Lastly, students have the opportunity to use plagiarism detection software and databases that can be cross-referenced prior to submitting any academic work for a class. There may no longer be an excuse to commit plagiarism, intentional or unintentional.
- Buranen, L. and Roy, A. M. (1999). Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual
Property in a Postmodern World. New York City: State University of New York
- Davis, L. (2011). “Arresting Student Plagiarism: Are We Investigators or Educators?”
Business Communication Quarterly. 74(2), pp.160-163.
- Hansen, B., Stith, D. and Tesdell, L. S (2011). “Plagiarism: What’s The Big Deal?”
Business Communication Quarterly. 74.2 (2011):188-191.
- Heckler, N. C., Rice, M. and Bryan, C. H. (2013). “Turnitin Systems: A Deterrent to
Plagiarism in College Classrooms”. Journal of Research on Technology in Education.
45(3), pp. 229-248.
- Kirszner, L. G. and Mandell, S. R. (2011). The Brief Wadsworth Handbook. California: