Introduction

Academic integrity is an extremely important virtue to the academic life of both students and professionals. It implies academic honesty and ensures that students and professionals uphold fairness, honesty, and respect to other people’s work when publishing, producing, assessing knowledge in the course of research, teaching, and learning. The activities that breach academic integrity include plagiarism, duplication, self-plagiarism, and collusion. The discussion begins by defining plagiarism and its two main categories and the five aspects that constitute plagiarism. The most complex issue in academic integrity is plagiarism. Plagiarism is an academic offense that is unacceptable in scientific writing. Students and professionals and writers can commit this crime deliberately or inadvertently. It puts into question the consciousness, honesty, and integrity of the writer. Plagiarism and self-plagiarism can lead to serious adverse consequences to students such as academic warnings and expulsion from the university. Students, writers, and course instructors need to understand what constitutes plagiarism, the motives behind plagiarism, and how to avoid the academic offense. The contribution of the internet in exacerbating plagiarism is immense. The paper explores how professors can use the internet to curb plagiarism and academic dishonesty and later outlines a guideline to ethical writing. The paper gives a recommendation on how professors can help reduce the culture of plagiarism. In other words, this paper argues that although the internet complicates the efforts of ensuring academic honesty, professors have the highest responsibility to detect and deter plagiarism.

Categories of Plagiarism

Plagiarism involves using words or concepts of another scholar without acknowledging them or seeking their consent and presenting them as original ideas” (Asselin 4). Plagiarism falls into two main categories: plagiarism of ideas and plagiarism of text. Plagiarism of ideas involves a writers or speakers using ideas and thoughts of another person and presenting them as their own without acknowledging the original sources. Plagiarism of ideas is a common phenomenon in conferences where the orators present ideas from research journals, textbooks, and other sources as if they are the original sources. The failure to acknowledge the sources qualifies these presentations as plagiarized ideas. Plagiarism of text occurs when writers copy a section of words or sentences from another scholar’s work and assume attributing the originator of the work or enclosing them in quotation marks. Accordingly, five aspects constitute plagiarism (Macfarlane 21). The first is verbatim copying that involves copying information word for word without acknowledging the source. The second is inadequate acknowledgment that involves paraphrasing a material but failing to provide adequate acknowledgment. The third aspect is ghostwriting where a student submits an assignment written by another person as their own. The fourth aspect is purloining appropriation where students copy materials from other people’s assignments without their knowledge. The last aspect is collusion where the person from whom the material is copied is fully aware of the fact of copying.

Plagiarism in the Digital Age

Some writers such as Park 481 who addressed internet plagiarism argued that the internet has exacerbated plagiarism and academic dishonesty. He writes that before the increased use of the internet, plagiarism was a difficult and risky task. One had to sit at the table for a long time, copying the paragraphs they wished to include in their work. The course instructors had full knowledge of the materials in the library, which made plagiarism a highly risky undertaking. The professors were in firm control of academic integrity. All has changed during the advent of the internet. The professors cannot access and master all the materials on the internet. Further, the internet obscures a plagiarist from the glare of the professors since the plagiarist sits alone in an out-of-site place to copy assignments from the internet. The vast information on the internet makes tracing of the sources harder for the professors. However, I argue that the advent of the internet still makes plagiarism as hard as before. The professors can search the students’ papers on the internet and detect the sources that the students used. This is possible by instructing them to indicate web links of the sources they used.

 

Heberling, a writer of the internet journal made various observations on education in the internet era. He writes that previously, few term papers were available for sale at house archives (23). However, tracing the term paper a student wanted was a laborious task. The limited number of the term papers also meant that the detection of bogus papers was an easy task for the professors. The internet makes the use of bogus papers an easy task for the students. First, there are numerous websites offering such paper, which minimizes the chances of two or more students submitting the same term paper in the same class. A student only needs to visit the website selling the term papers, insert a credit card number, and download a term paper to submit to the professor. Some of the websites offer additional services to shield their clients from being caught. In case two or more students studying at the same class at a university purchase the same paper, they send them an alert by email to warn them about the possibility of another student in possession of the same work. Though, my own stance is that the internet makes detection of plagiarism an easier task. The professors can insert a sample of the paragraphs of the students’ work over different websites to identify whether they extracted any information from any of the websites.

Although most scholars argue that the development of technology and internet proliferation co complicates the efforts of detecting a plagiarized paper and ensuring academic integrity, I argue that the professors can still use the internet as a powerful tool for plagiarism detection. One of the methods is the use of search engines. A professor can investigate plagiarism by typing a portion of the text from a student’s work in the search engine and searching for a match (Park 482). The search engines display all the papers that match the submitted texts. There exists software such as Turnitin and website plagiarism.org where professors can submit students’ papers to search for the portion of the texts that match other scholars’ work. The thorough check through the internet ensures that the professors detect unoriginal work.

A Guideline to Ethical Writing

Professors should ensure that students maintain a culture of ethical writing. A writer should always acknowledge the sources of his/her ideas. The writer should enclose any text he/she takes from another author in quotation marks. Writers should develop the habit of acknowledging all sources they paraphrase or summarize in their writing. In case writers paraphrase or summarize the work of other scholars, it is important to retain the original meaning of the ideas of the scholar by the use of a new set of words. The writer should clearly understand the ideas of the author whose work he/she plans to modify to paraphrase correctly. Neville writes that, “attributing the authors from whom the writer borrows ideas indicates that he/she maintains an ethical responsibility to the sources and the readers and that he/she respects their ideas” (12). If a writer submits work containing data that another author has published or presented, he/she has the responsibility of indicating the nature of the previous publication or presentation. Writers and students should ensure that the references they use relate directly to the content of the paper (Heberling 9). It is unacceptable to include references that are unrelated to the paper to increase its chances of acceptance. Writers and students should not use the secondary summary of another author’s work to describe the work of that author. It may indicate the poor scholarly standard of the writer. When writers doubt whether a fact is a common knowledge, they should cite the concepts. When writers borrow heavily from a source, they must clarify their original ideas to the readers as well as the ones they have borrowed.

Recommendations

Various writers provide different recommendations on avoiding plagiarism. I argue that professors should educate students on what constitutes plagiarism and academic dishonesty and ways of avoiding it. Most students understand that plagiarism is only copying paragraphs from other sources. If students get sufficient information about plagiarism, they can make efforts to avoid it. The professors have a duty to inform students about the existence of paper mill websites and the ease in copying and pasting information from a source. The students will be aware that the lecturers know the shortcuts that students use in doing their assignments. Second, lecturers should caution the students about the consequences of academic dishonesty and notify them that they check all assignments through text matching software. Third, educators should teach students about procedures of academic writing, including citing and paraphrasing

Conclusion

Most scholars now believe; as a result of my research, I have found that it is important that writers and students should try to avoid all forms of plagiarism in their work. One of the ways I emphasize is the provision of references for the purposes of acknowledging the owners of sources they use. The owners may include the authors of books and articles or film producers. The attribution of the sources helps the reader to locate the sources the writer has used. Seeing references in the paper, the reader will know that the writer has done an extensive research on the subject, which gives credibility to writing. The professors should guide students and ensure they uphold these research and writing practices.

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