The World Intellectual Property Organization defines intellectual property or IP as “creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.” Each year, the United States Department of Justice handles hundreds of legal cases relating to violations of intellectual property. Needless to say, violating intellectual property is a crime that is punishable by law.
A similar reality is present in the world of academia, as colleges and universities throughout the world have strict rules against violating intellectual property. The term often used to describe it is academic plagiarism. According to the Center for Academic Integrity, 80% of college students admit to cheating at least once. A recent study done by the US News and World Report concluded that 90% of students believe that students that cheat are never caught or have not been appropriately disciplined.
Colleges in the U.S and throughout the world have different policies in regards to plagiarism. While some adopt very strict rules when dealing with plagiarism (which is the case in the U.S and Canada), others can be quite lenient or unclear about what is considered plagiarism. This is particularly confusing for international students who come to the U.S in order to continue their education and end by being expelled from their university because they failed to correctly reference their outside sources in an essay or research paper.
It is true that the Internet is one of the main culprits here, as it provides a plethora of resources and information that any student could simply copy/paste into his/her essay and claim ownership of it. This happens every hour of every day as students under the pressure to complete their assignments, either intentionally plagiarize or forget to reference information they got from outside sources. Things get even more complicated for international students who are already dealing with the linguistic challenges and often fail to recognize plagiarism in their writing. In general, these are the main reasons why students plagiarize:
1-Lack of academic research and library skills
2- Lack of linguistic competence to correctly paraphrase and cite sources: this particularly prevalent among non-native speakers.
3- The student has not been instructed on how to properly cite and reference outside sources
4- Student’s lack of confidence about his/her writing skills
5- Time pressure when dealing with deadlines and finals.
6- Cultural differences: borrowing others’ words and ideas without acknowledgment is an acceptable practice in many societies.
7- Lack of interest in the course itself. How to deal with plagiarism
There is no magical solution for solving the problem of plagiarism, but a first step would be trying to understand the real causes behind it, which are often social in nature. Identifying plagiarism, however, is possible using the same technology that makes it quite widespread today: the Internet. Online services such as www.academicplagiarism.com allow you to scan your writing for plagiarism by comparing your text to billions of web pages, journal articles, magazine articles…etc. A plagiarism checker can be a powerful tool in the hands of high school and college instructors to scan their students’ work for plagiarism. On the other hand, students can also benefit from the use of an online plagiarism detector by scanning their own writing for accidental plagiarism. This is particularly helpful when doing a research paper: an arduous process that involves keeping track of multiple quotes and outside sources. Students often forget to acknowledge outside sources and end up being accused of plagiarism. It is therefore safer to scan one’s writing for plagiarism before submitting the work to an instructor for assessment.
When choosing a plagiarism checker, one has to take a few things into considerations:
1- Quality: A good plagiarism detector doesn’t have to cost you money. In fact, many of the hyped up plagiarism detectors are quite expensive, yet have serious limitations and not reliable.
2- Practicality: Many plagiarism detecting tools require you to download their software to your computer. This can be very frustrating for users on the go, who need continuous access to a plagiarism scanner. Opt for an online plagiarism checker that is available online and is accessible from anywhere and at any time.
Academicplagiarism.com offers a free and secure plagiarism detector that is available fully online and guarantees very accurate results.
Whether it is a corporation mimicking the logo of a competitor, or a student using the words/ideas of another author without acknowledging that those words/ideas belong to another person, the consequence could be very serious. As mentioned earlier, violating intellectual property is a crime, so it is critical to take all necessary measures to avoid it. Scanning one’s work for plagiarism can help.