Plagiarism: Why It's Not Worth It

January 22, 2012
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Maybe you've been in this situation before. It's the night before a big project or essay is due, and you're relaxing - reading a book, playing video games, doing whatever you want to your heart's content. It's not becausee you're done, though. It's because you've completely forgotten about it.

You get a text from a friend, or a Facebook message, or something like that. "Hey," it says, "you finished that huge assignment, right? Ms. Monroe is going to be so mad if you don't turn it in since you already have a D in that class."

You start to panic. You suddenly remember all of the things that you have to do to finish it. You remember promising yourself that you'd actually turn this one in on time, and maybe, just maybe, not flunk your hardest class.

Well, all you can do now is write something at the last minute and hope that you're not graded too harshly. But then again...somebody must have written a paper about this sometime and put it on the Internet. You google the topic, and sure enough, you find the perfect paper. This will definitely bring your grade up. You copy the paper onto Microsoft Word, put your name on it, change or reorder some of the words to make it look like you own work, and print it out. "Yeah," you message your friend, "I'm done."

A few weeks later, you get your paper back with a big red F on the top, accompanied by the word "plagiarized". Now you're in even more trouble with your grade.

Plagiarizing - what a great word. It's your ticket to an essay without trying...and an F. If you only get an F on that assignment, consider yourself lucky. You can flunk the class just by plagiarizing one assignment. You really want to throw away all of the work you've done in the rest of the year? That's what you're risking.

Teachers know when you're plagiarizing. You might say to yourself that there's no way that your teacher can have read all of the things that you could have plagiarized from. However, there are entire websites devoted to helping teachers identify and deal with plagiarized work.

First of all, replacing some words with synonyms and changing the order of some of the words isn't going to fool anybody - at least, not anybody that counts. It still counts as plagiarizing; the whole idea of plagiarizing is that you're stealing somebody else's ideas, whether or not you're using their exact wording.

Second of all, let's say that you've been doing poorly in this class all year long. It might be that your arguments aren't convincing enough, your vocabulary isn't as good as it could be, or your writing level is a little bit below your grade level. Don't you think that your teacher will notice if you suddenly turn in something that's written at a much higher level than everything else that you're turning in?

If you're still tempted to plagiarize, I don't know how much else I can do to convince you. Just keep in mind that you're not as clever as you think you are. It's not like you're the firs person to come up with the "brilliant" idea of claiming someone else's work as your own.





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