Academic Plagiarism


Plagiarism is the act of taking and using one’s own thoughts and writings from the works of another writer and presenting it as one’s own (Lance; pp 32). The 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary defined plagiarism as the use or close imitation of language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work. The concept of copyright infringement has occasionally been confused with plagiarism. These are two different things. Copyright infringement deals with the violation of the rights of a copyright holder when the material that is protected by copyright is used without consent. Plagiarism on the other hand, is achieved through false claim of ownership of another person’s material or written work.

This paper seeks to give an in-depth scrutiny of plagiarism. The paper will do so by addressing the following issues; the definition and understanding of plagiarism (which has already been done in the first paragraph), penalties for plagiarism in the US academic institutions, having looked at the penalties the paper will then address the issue regarding the ways in which plagiarism can be avoided, the tools that are in existence for detecting plagiarism and finally, a conclusion will be drawn by looking at my attitude towards plagiarism.

What are the penalties for plagiarism in US academic institutions?

Plagiarism is a serous offense in many academic institutions in the United States. The kind of punishment varies from one person to another, depending on the extent of plagiarism and the level of the person in the academic field. The most common displinary action taken is suspension or expulsion from the institution of learning. This is the action taken to regular offenders and in cases where there high levels of plagiarism in the work presented. A situation where the academic level would come into play is an instance where a high school student and a college or university student have presented plagiarized work as their own. The action taken against the high school student is not the same as that taken against the college or university student. In many cases, the high school student will just be given a fail in that particular subject. The college student, on the other hand will fail the whole course. In other instances, it is worse for the college or university students. Their college diplomas and university degrees or awards may be revoked as a punishment. For professors and researchers, plagiarism is punished by sanctions ranging from suspension to termination along with the loss of credibility and integrity (Anderson; pp 121).  The worst kind of punishment to be administered is that of jail term. Some persons who have committed plagiarism have been jailed having been reported by the academic institutions and the rightful owner of the material took action.

How then can plagiarism be avoided?

It is not possible that one can write a report without looking at the works of other persons. There are therefore various methods in which one can go through another persons work and avoid plagiarism. One of the ways is through acknowledgement of the author’s thoughts, ideas or writings. Acknowledging that the ideas being presented are not one’s own but the ideas and thoughts of another point out the fact that yes one used the works of another to bring out a certain point or to understand something clearly but he/she confirms that the ideas belong to someone else. Although plagiarism and copyright infringement are two different things, in order to avoid plagiarism one needs to ensure that there is no violation of copyright. This may be done by acquiring the consent of the material from the copyright holder. Giving credit to the rightful owners of the material at the end of one’s writing through the citation and referencing is also another way of avoiding plagiarism (Lance; pp 121). This is similar in a way to acknowledging other people’s ideas. The final, and the best, way of avoiding plagiarism is by doing as much original work as possible. This automatically ensues that the work and the ideas presented belong to the person presenting them.

What tools are in existence for testing plagiarism?

The most commonly used means of testing plagiarism today is the online system of testing. In this method, the work done by an individual is submitted to a specific site where it will be automatically counterchecked to monitor the degree of plagiarism. Other methods of checking for plagiarism used by the instructors are by proof reading the work presented to them. Plagiarism is the character of many lazy students. Many of them therefore copy and paste the works of other people from the same site unknowingly. This implies that while the instructor or teacher is going through the submitted work, he/she will have a look at many works that are similar if not the same. That is another way that instructors can test for plagiarism.


Plagiarism is considered as academic dishonesty and fraud by many researchers. My position on plagiarism is that it kills the art of writing. Ideas are there in the world and every one has a different idea and perception towards different things (Anderson; pp31). If we are to protect and preserve the art of writing in the world, we need to shun away from acts such as plagiarism. We need to acknowledge the ideas and works of others and by doing so we will be creating a culture and a breed of good writing and writers.