Plagiarism – Not a way of life


“German minister Annette Schavan quits over plagiarism” was recently on the first page of BBC news. From what I read, Schavan has been accused of plagiarism 33 years after receiving her doctorate. The University she attended even revoked her doctorate. What’s worse is that she is the Minister of Education! Her honor could be forever tarnished if she cannot successfully appeal the charges.

For the longest time, I couldn’t understand people’s need to plagiarize and as a writer, I have an absolute distaste for plagiarizers. How hard is it to come up with your own ideas?  Apparently, very.

Florida Tech has very strict policies about plagiarism and it can even lead to expulsion. Yet, I am always surprised to learn there are plagiarists in one or two of my classes each year. I’ve tried to understand the reasoning behind plagiarizing someone else’s work. Is it because someone doesn’t want to think on their own?  Is it because of lack of time or fear of seeking help?  Most often, the people who plagiarize do so because the material is available on the Internet. We can think of it as: There’s a cupcake on the table and nobody’s around, so I am going to eat it.

This leads to the idea that technology has made people insensitive and lazy. Because they cannot see or touch the work, they may think that it is alright to “borrow” it for their personal use. When I asked someone why they didn’t cite what they “borrowed,” I was told, “I cannot cite a whole paper.”  What exactly is the point of submitting the work if you haven’t written it yourself? Some people might be lucky and get away with plagiarism …but that does not mean it will not follow them.

The German minister Schavan is a prime example of getting away with plagiarism then having it catch up later one day. Think of how hard she probably worked to get to her position in life, only to have it taken away for something she did, not thinking of the consequences.

I see plagiarizers as unoriginal thinkers. This is maybe why they do not understand that it is unfair to an author to not cite them and blatantly steal their work. Plagiarism is a form of stealing, not physically but virtually. Thieves are punished everyday by society and plagiarizers are no less than thieves.

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