Plagiarism is becoming more and more common, with people in middle school, college and the workplace stealing other people’s words and ideas, and passing them off as their own. According to The New York Times, even though people caught plagiarizing are expelled, fired, and lose political elections - fewer and fewer people think it’s actually wrong.
A study published in Education Week found that 54% of students admit they’ve plagiarized from the Internet. One college student mentioned in the article who copied most of an essay from the Internet was more worried about getting an “F” than the actual plagiarism. Still, some experts say the real issue goes beyond the lack of ethics. The fact is, students who plagiarize aren’t learning how to improve their minds. This means, they’re not learning to be creative, to think critically, or to come up with their own ideas, which can cause a lifelong negative impact.
To test the theory, MIT researchers studied students who began with equivalent math and physics skills. However, only part way through the semester, the students who copied from others most often, and were the least likely to do their own homework, had fallen far behind their classmates, and were significantly more likely to fail. Of course, the Internet has made plagiarism a lot easier, because students can simply cut-and-paste the information they find online, instead of using the research as a jumping off point to create their own original thoughts and ideas.
So, what are schools doing to stop plagiarism? Many schools now require incoming students to take online tutorials that explain what plagiarism is, and how to avoid it. More than half the colleges in North America have contracts with services that check student papers for material lifted from the Internet and books. Several professors assign only in-class essays. So they can more accurately judge how much their students have learned when they can’t rely on the Internet.