The Jolly Librarian Considers Plagiarism

The Jolly Librarian, of course, is against plagiarism and has never deliberately plagiarized any other person’s work.

Still, it’s the  time of the semester when plagiarism is a hot topic on our campus as research projects are due. Faculty face the unpleasant task of assigning F’s to plagiarized papers, and students face the unpleasant task of receiving those grades.

Now, in my humble opinion, there is a great deal of difference between unintentional and intentional plagiarism, and I’ll spend next week discussing how to avoid the first type. But for today, let’s just review what is intentional plagiarism (in my mind, just plain-out cheating).

You should never do the following:

  • Buy a paper from a fellow student or from a website and turn it in as your own.
  • Turn in a paper written by your mother, significant other, best friend, etc. and turn it in as your own work.
  • Write an introduction and conclusion and then copy and paste the rest of the paper from another source.
  • Turn in a paper that you wrote for another course or in high school. (Now some might be surprised that this would be considered plagiarism since it is your own work. Still, most instructors expect that you conduct fresh research and write a new paper for each course. And let’s face it: By turning in the same paper more than once, you’re not learning to be a better researcher or writer.)

There is little debate here. Students may not be happy when they’re caught, but they’re not surprised at the result. We all pretty much know that these are clear cases of academic dishonesty.

Just don’t do it. No learning takes place. And the penalty can be severe if you’re caught.

There is really little I can do to help intentional plagiarists. They know the rules; they know the risks, and yet they proceed. It is to the unintentional plagiarists that I will next direct my attention and my sympathy.

Until next Tuesday.

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