Meaning of Plagiarism

Plagiarism today has become a serious problem worldwide. Whether it is college students buying written assignments or authors stealing words or ideas plagiarism is everywhere. Despite the laws and regulations against it, the stigmatic problem is increasing at a warp speed instead of decreasing.

The dictionary defines plagiarism as “the unauthorized use or close imitation of language and ideas of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”
Although the definition is quite simple the term has a deeper and a more complicated meaning.

The word has originated from plagiarius, a Latin word which means kidnapper. It was first used by a Roman poet to claim that some other poet had stolen his verses. Hence, the term means stealing not just words or lines but ideas and thoughts as well. Even the distribution of someone’s work without permission comes under plagiarism’s definition. It is interesting to note that in the early eighteenth century copying other people’s work was considered as a form of paying homage. But as time progressed rules against it emerged to protect the original work. According to Martin there are two types of plagiarisms; academic and non academic.

In the academic context copying someone’s work or ideas is strictly condemned but this is not the case in the non academic or real work environment. Ghostwriting, honorary authorship and bureaucratic authorship are daily routine practices.

When movie stars or bureaucratic officers deliver speeches or write books that is not their actual work. Instead, get it written from hired people and subordinates. This is also plagiarism which goes unattended and unnoticed.

Actions that are considered as plagiarism can be summarized as follows:

• Putting your own name in a paper written by someone else—this usually happens on college and university level. Whether you buy such material or get it free from any website it comes under the hood of plagiarism.
• Copying phrases or paragraphs to your content—even if you do not copy the entire thing and pick few phrases or paragraphs from someone else’s work without giving the due credit you are going against plagiarism laws.
• Putting your name on someone else’s paraphrasing—even if it is simple paraphrasing work done by someone, you are not allowed to copy it.
• Stealing ideas—plagiarism is not restricted to copying words only, if you have stolen somebody’s idea it is plagiarism too. The intellectual property laws govern this immoral and unethical behavior.
• Recreating your own old content—this isn’t regulated by laws but is considered a bad practice at college level. Students do it to merely extend their new assignments and papers.
• Giving inaccurate source—if you are quoting someone and you fail to add the quotation marks you will be penalized for plagiarism. Or, if you have given an inaccurate source you have made a grave error. Although this practice will constitute no strict action technically it will come under the heading of plagiarism.

Laws against plagiarism are getting tighter but true definition of the term is still undecided. People still have several loopholes to copy work of someone else.

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