Plagiarism Does Real Damage

Let’s Talk about the Dangers of Plagiarism

Every student should be aware of plagiarism, both what it is and why it must be avoided. Teachers usually discuss this with their students, making sure every class knows the rules, what is considered plagiarism, and why it is a type of cheating. However, there is more to this complex and important topic, so an overview to start a new school year is always wise.

  • First, don’t confuse plagiarism with research.

Some wonder, how can students avoid plagiarism if they do research to find information and ideas? Afterall, finding information and using it in their own essays seems normal and like a valuable life skill. That’s true about finding the information. Every student needs to learn how and where to find good information, and how to separate the bad information from the good. Using it as their own thoughts, however, is the real problem.

Anyone can copy and paste words someone else wrote (and thought about and put effort into) directly into an essay or assignment. In fact, we could probably train monkeys or parrots to do that. It’s not thinking. It’s not making an effort. And it certainly is not learning.

  • Second, detecting and confirming plagiarism is easier than ever.

Not only is it easier to plagiarize due to the Internet offering immediate access to so much published material and so many other opinions, but catching suspected plagiarism is also easier than ever. That’s right, teachers who sense a student’s writing is suspicious—with sudden higher levels of vocabulary appearing, ornate or much more complex sentence and phrasing styles, and/or super advanced concepts—can easily search to find matching text online and confirm the plagiarism.

  • Finally, students who plagiarize are cheating themselves as much as they are cheating in class.

We can all agree cheating is bad for many reasons. It’s not fair, not ethical, and not worth the trouble. Beyond that, plagiarism is considered theft. That’s right, it involves stealing someone else’s hard work and acting as if it is your own. Not only is a student who copies the thoughts and words of others not really learning anything, but the risks are enormous. If plagiarism is confirmed, a student will usually fail that assignment—at the least. In some cases, the whole course might be failed. In universities, plagiarism can lead to expulsion. Is cheating on one essay or assignment worth these punishments?

SpiderSmart wants students who write their own thoughts and who will think for themselves, not just take another person’s writing to use as their own. We will always discuss incidents of plagiarism with students to ensure they know what they did wrong, why it is wrong, and how to avoid it in the future. This is how SpiderSmart protects our students from academic harm. Now, let’s all start a new school year!