Plagiarism from a teacher’s perspective

09/15/2014 14:25

There is currently a lot of information in existence on the Internet and in handouts from schools/colleges/universities, even on this site, regarding plagiarism. You understand what it is: copying someone else’s work to benefit your own success without paraphrasing (re-writing in your own words so you can display your understanding of the material).  Also, you have been told about self-plagiarism: acquiring a previous piece of work and re-submitting it to your own tutor/lecturer, where you don’t learn anything, period!

Yes, you have been born into a world of sophisticated Information Technology and impressive consoles from some big-named brands/organisations, but do bear in mind that the Internet has only really been publicly available for the past 15 years or so.  What this means is that a lot of people who are older than you are actually well versed in the ways the Internet and indeed IT work.

Granted, not all of us know how to use IT or the Internet effectively, but plenty of people do.  This is because we as educationalists have to make sure we’re up to date with the current tech, else we would be ignoring an important part of the understanding and development using a very helpful resource.

This subsequently means that plagiarism is something you can’t get away with when it comes to the vast majority of IT-literate tutors/lecturers.  I’ve had lots of students, this year alone, submit work that clearly is partly and in some instances totally, plagiarised.

Here’s why: your writing is personal to you.  You write in a distinct way and yes, you sometimes word paragraphs using incorrect grammar.  So when the next passage is read and it’s grammatically sound, reads like an extract from a 21-year-olds university essay and in small cases, has a different font, it’s not hard to spot the difference.

When this happens it is easy to initially pop that sentence into Google and let it do all the hard work.  If it comes back with positive hits on the precise phraseology which leads to a site, which in turn leads to a passage sneakily similar to yours, then you’ve been found out.

Taking it a step further, your assignment can then be run through and examined for any more inconsistencies.

In today’s IT-orientated world you are not the only (young) people that know how to browse the Internet to find something that will fit in your paper, us teachers/lecturers here are just as well prepared.  So be cautious the next time you’re browsing through the Internet.