March 28, 2018

College Class Pass Guide

Justifying Plagiarism

A comment was made recently with words to the effect that we shouldn't care if someone makes a practice of plagiarism if they aren't making money off the plagiarized material. That covers a wide body of work from college term papers to blog entries to articles submitted for non-payment. But is it true? Should we turn a blind eye when someone steals other people's work if the person doing it isn't making serious money from the act? This article is an attempt to refute that cavalier attitude towards plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism? - Plagiarism is taking words found in print or on the internet and presenting them as if you, yourself, thought those words up all by lonely yourself. If you use a sentence or a paragraph word-for-word without using quotations marks and crediting the source, you are plagiarizing. If you do extensive paraphrasing without proper citations, you are plagiarizing. If you steal an entire article and put your own by-line on it, you are plagiarizing. Plagiarism isn't just a social courtesy someone breaks. It's against the law. It's unethical. In most cases, it's black and white with no gray areas in between.

Gains and Losses of Plagiarism - For college students, would-be famous writers or aspiring bloggers plagiarism can fill a short term goal but with long term, negative repercussions. Sure, it might get you through college with good grades using purchased term papers. You might make affiliate marketing money on your blog by prostituting ethical standards using material that isn't your own. You might even become a celebrated author by plagiarizing others before the world figures it out and exposes your dirty little under belly. But in the end what have you actually gained? College students who cheat their way through school come out unprepared for living authentic lives. The popular blogger or rising author gains nothing through plagiarism because there can be no genuine joy or sense of accomplishment when at any moment they could be caught. Money isn't worth much when your good name and reputation are destroyed.

Why Bother Learning the Craft of Writing? - Writers influence a lot of people whether we write news, fiction or non-fiction. We wouldn't expect an electrician or plumber to get licensed if they hadn't studied their craft so why would anyone think that learning to write should be any different? There are rules, principles and laws to learn. There are good habits to develop and pride to be had when we've done our homework. Ethics counts in all occupations but it counts even more with professions that have the potential of influencing the masses. We can lose our assets through no fault of our own. We can lose our health the same way. But no one can take away the pride that comes when we've actually earned the praises we get for work that carries our by-lines.can you pass a college class with a d- grade?

The comment that inspired this article was followed with the explanation that we should all be flattered if someone plagiarizes something we've produced. But isn't the "flattery factor" just a fairy tale told to justify the act of plagiarism, to make it sound socially acceptable? Do you say "thank you" to the guy who sticks a gun in your face and strips you of your valuables? Is it flattering that he admires and takes your watch and wedding band?

Forget all the 'intent and venue' and 'deliberate versus unintended' mumble jumble attempts at justifying plagiarism. The bottom line is that plagiarism is not acceptable. It never will be. ©

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