When a person thinks about plagiarism, what does he or she think it means? Plagiarism has many definitions in many areas, but one definition from the Ledger Stylebook is “the act of taking ideas, thoughts or words from another and passing them off as their own.” This means that if a person copies and pastes a paragraph into their own work from someone else’s work without citing them, then they are plagiarizing. Even if they change a few words, they still have stolen this person’s thoughts and ideas.
In the plagiarism committee report of The (Lakeland) Ledger they tackle the issue of plagiarism. This committee was created because of a case where “a copy editor was dismissed for plagiarizing a column about baseball trades.” They say that a person is plagiarizing if they steal “voices” from the archives and articles, which means they copy fellow reporter’s work and say it’s their own. The committee report also ruled that it’s okay to share quotes, but to be careful. This is because if you swap a quote that doesn’t mean that the quote you received from someone else is actually factual. What it all comes down to is that a writer needs to be careful what they use and make sure to cite everything that’s not their own. There is really no such thing as an accidental plagiarism.
In freshman year I had a friend who thought it was okay to copy paragraphs from websites, then paste them into her essays. She told me, “ It’s okay because I changed up a few words.” What she didn’t understand was that she was completely using someone else’s ideas and pretending that they were her own. In the end she was caught and received an XF for the semester. This grade is worse than an F because it shows that she has cheated on her transcript. If a person has so many consequences to cheating, is it really worth it for them?
The (Lakeland) Ledger, Shared with Penn State by Permission of Editor Lenore Devore, March 2008.