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Plagiarism Remains a Problem among College Students

Plagiarism Remains a Problem among College Students


By Dr. Mark Friske
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University

Plagiarism is viewed as a bad word in the academic community. Students try not to mention or hear of it during their academic career, but plagiarism still exists. Since we know that plagiarism is frowned upon by just about everyone, why is it still a problem?

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There Can Be Many Underlying Reasons Why a Student Participates in Plagiarism

Students often start out with good intentions and ideas. However, there can be many underlying reasons why a student would plagiarize someone else’s work.

For example, a student might find after enrolling in a course that the work is too difficult. There could be changes to her work schedule that reduces the time available to devote to her classes and learning. Also, thanks to the internet, it has become easy to find a paper to copy that fits the class assignment.

The real factor is that when students make a choice of using someone else’s work, they are not learning and growing on their own. That does not help their academic achievements and education.

Granted, we all can learn new things from reading the works of others, which might change our own thoughts and ideas. But simply adopting the work of others as your own does not help any student learn. In addition, plagiarism is considered a major offense in academia; at some institutions, plagiarism can result in immediate dismissal from the school.

When Students Skip an Essential Step or Several, They Stop Learning All that They Might

Instructors give much thought and effort into their classes, papers and assignments. The idea is to guide their students to better research and writing skills. When students skip an essential step or several, they stop learning all that they might.

We know that graduate programs are all about conducting sound research, using that research to support the author’s position in the assigned work, and making valid points and conclusions. Sound papers making a strong argument will always require citations and references. Plagiarism is never a part of this academic process.

Also, students sometimes copy material from their own previous papers and use it again in a current assignment or paper. Without proper attribution, this is called self-plagiarism. Most schools frown on self-plagiarism as well. The idea is for students to focus on learning something new to build on their education rather than limiting them to what they already know and understand.

Can a Student Learn Anything from Plagiarism?

Can a student learn anything from plagiarizing? Possibly, but nothing even close to the original purpose of the assignment.

We can learn from instructors, advisors mentors and subject matter professionals. Often, they will place students on a path of learning on their own and on their own merit. However, they cannot do the work for their students.

When students plagiarize the work of someone else, they make the choice to lean on that person’s knowledge instead of standing on their own level of knowledge. Remember, everyone should always be learning and expanding their knowledge. This means learning new things every day throughout our lives.

Students need to understand the choice they are making when they decide to plagiarize. They need to realize that they have closed the door to their own learning by relying on some other person’s thoughts and ideas.

We all need to remember that the basic purpose of academics is to grow and learn new things, even if this task is difficult or even exhausting in the process.

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About the Author

Mark Friske, Ph.D., is a part-time instructor in the School of Business at APU. He holds a M.B.A. in business administration and a Ph.D. in organization and management, both from Capella University. In addition, Mark has a B.A. in pre-law from Bob Jones University.

Mark is a U.S. Navy veteran and has 25 years of management and leader experience with Apple, Citibank, UPS and other companies. He is a management and leadership consultant with Disney.



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