Plagiarism v. United States? United States v. Plagiarism? Student v. University?

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Lets play devil’s advocate.

            So we all know plagiarism is bad, against the rules, wrong… basically illegal, especially in our industry. Yes, we already know this; yet, even though we learn this at a young age and continue to hear it at the start of every new class, people still plagiarize. AND will continue to plagiarize. In my honest opinion, I think plagiarism is usually unintentional or just out of laziness. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what common knowledge is, especially with the internet age.

            But what if it isn’t illegal in YOUR country? And then you attend college or have a career somewhere, where plagiarism IS illegal.

            In February, businessweek.com posted a blog article on this exact issue. In summary: Penn State and UCLA MBA applicants rejected because of (drumroll…) plagiarized essays. “At Smeal, MBA Managing Director Carrie Marcinkevage says 10 percent of the 481 applications received in the first and second rounds had plagiarized essays, up from 8 percent for the full admissions cycle last year. Many of the new cases are international applicants from East Asian countries, where borrowing from published sources without attribution is not considered wrong, Marcinkevage says.” So, what about this? Should these students then get penalized? 

            I think so, although interesting to consider. “The increase comes despite a disclosure on the Smeal website notifying applicants that their essays will be reviewed for plagiarism.” There’s that fact and the fact that as stated above, plagiarism is always brought up at the start of EVERY new class and as a semester-long reminder by your professor and University, it is written on every syllabus. In other words: you have been warned.

            Some basic examples of plagiarism: Lifting directly or indirectly from published material without attributing it; lifting quotes or information from a secondary source and presenting it as original to your piece; fabricating quotes or information from a source; presenting the identity of a source dishonestly; breaking a promise to a source or lying to a teacher/editor. These students knew to copy and paste the essay portions; now know you better attribute your information or be prepared for consequences. It’s not a matter of why and but, but more of a because they said so

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4 thoughts on “Plagiarism v. United States? United States v. Plagiarism? Student v. University?

  1. It’s really interesting when you brought up different laws and rules in different regions. When I was in China, we do talked about plagiarism but it’s often a oral notification. Not that it’s legal but it’s not well emphasized. My first class in college was CAS100A, that’s when I first noticed all the citation rules. As for me, I think it’s respectful to always credit others’ words. And also, there is no excuse to fabricate or create a news story.

  2. I believe that the claim that plagiarism could occur unintentionally has an antidote in the real world. In the Ledger report, the committee decided that reporters are entitled to appeals to plagiarism charges. I heard it way too frequently that when ideas collide, there are bound to be commonalities. Despite the richness of English vocabulary and structure, undertrained writers have greater susceptibility to plagiarism because they have not developed an individualized style. However, the contrary happens in this industry as well. Some experienced writers still crossed the red line and squandered their reputes in all. We should begin to see a pattern here. Cadet writers are likely to lapse into non-committal plagiarism because of their maladaptive writing portfolio, whereas veteran writers are more opportunistic, gambling their career over the deadline or more ominously, the drought of inspirations.

  3. I think it is very interesting to note the more lenient rules in other parts of the world. I am from South Korea and from what I understand, plagiarism is fairly strict. But I do believe that there is no country that is stronger in the stance against plagiarism than the US. I think independence is much more stronger quality and implemented in the culture more than any other, making our major that much harder.

  4. @Abyun0630 and @Viola, your experience is interesting to me. I’m not really sure why we seem to be stronger in this area than other countries, but I guess it goes with everything else that makes us so different than other countries, if that makes sense. @Harry, I guess you can say it’s just tricky at times… Journalism can be a hungry field. You want to get out a story before everyone else but at the same time, there’s a lot of work to it; I want to say as journalists we know not to plagiarize or fabricate but then there have been plenty of cases (i.e. Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass) where it just happens… who knows… in those cases, those writers knew they were wrong. I guess it became a game, a high even….

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