In the News: The Plagiarism Plague

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The Plagiarism Plague

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The "cut and paste" function has made it easy to grab a few paragraphs, sentences or phrases here and there from sources like Wikipedia and similar informational Web sites. However, other academics believe that plagiarism is less a sign of the times and more a sign of laziness in students.

Most of the 196 cases of plagiarism at the University of California Davis were not from students ignorant of how to cite sources, but from students who simply didn't care enough to do their own work (Trip Gabriel, "Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age,", Aug. 1, 2010).

Plagiarism is a serious offense. As copyright laws begin to tighten, and they have recently, it is more and more important to credit sources when creating a document of any kind. When in doubt, cite; it doesn't take very much extra effort. Even sources like Wikipedia need to be given a brief citation—after all, if the source is wrong, do you really want to take full credit for the mistake?

Taking something from someone without permission is theft, and taking intellectual property (writing, etc.) from someone and pretending it is your own is also theft. God condemns theft in the Ten Commandments. Give others the gift of your original thoughts, and give credit to the originality of others.