It is usually debated when plagiarism is frowned upon while research is appreciated. Hence, it is important to know the difference between plagiarism and research clearly.
Research, as defined by YourDictionary.com, is a “careful, systematic, patient study and investigation in some field of knowledge, undertaken to discover or establish facts or principles.”
It’s true that you always need information from one source of the other in order to write about any topic in the world. Not all the information can be first-hand. In academics, you are usually expected to support your philosophy with sources. Using sources and mentioning about what information was taken from where clearly in your articles is what can save you from committing plagiarism.
Plagiarism, unlike research, is when you do the initial part of research, which means you search through many sources, but skip the second part, which is acknowledging the fact that the information was first published by someone else and you are only mentioning it to spread the word. Not acknowledging the effort of someone by mentioning the source whose information you are using is unethical. It’s just like telling your dad you cooked the food when the cook made it in fact and you only served it on the table.
Plagiarism can be committed at different levels. The more you use copied content, the worse it gets. The usually accepted form of plagiarism is presenting another’s idea in one’s own words. Secondly, in some parts of the world, adding source at the end of the document is enough, while in others, you are expected to highlight the source against the exact text or the idea that was copied or inspired. The best idea is to mention clearly what was taken from where. You might not sound to be Shakespeare by doing it, but you’ll avoid a lot of inconvenience that might follow if you commit plagiarism.
The Gray Zone
There is a fine line between presenting others’ ideas in your own words and copying the data. You can mention the information that is a part of common knowledge; hence, if you are mentioning particular facts or stats, you should mention the source. If you do not mention the source, it means that you are claiming to be the original source of that information.
No matter what you are reproducing, it is important to make sure that whoever gets to read it is not misguided about the content’s originality. A consequence of you not providing the source may be for those taking information from your postings. They might mention you as the original source of the content or information, ending up getting embarrassed for providing the wrong source.
So, be safe and help another stay safe from the evils of plagiarism.