Why Stealing Ideas in School Won't Make the Grade

Metro Editorial
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Students, in high school or college, often face tough deadlines. Increasingly busy schedules has led many students to use questionable resources when hurrying to finish assignments. The Internet offers a wealth of content, much of which is difficult to cite or verify.

Unfortunately, this information often proves too tempting for students to ignore. While plagiarism has long been an issue in the nation's schools, the Internet has made it even more prevalent.

The word "plagiarism" is a derivative of a Latin word for kidnapping. More than 60 percent of students have admitted to plagiarism, according to a study from Rutgers University.

Plagiarism in the age of technology isn't always black and white. Students might find it difficult to determine what is right and wrong regarding using material found online. However, plagiarism is illegal, and in some schools it can result in a failing grade or even suspension or expulsion. A student with a history of plagiarism might also find they have credibility issues down the road.

Most published works are protected under The Copyright Act. Exceptions to the rule include compilations of readily available information, works published by the government, facts that are commonly known and not the result of original research, and material in the public domain. Although not all material is copyrighted, students should always cite any materials of which they are uncertain.

The easiest way to avoid plagiarism is to use unique ideas when constructing reports and assignments. When using facts or phrases from research material, properly citing sources is the best way to credit the original author. Paraphrasing important points is acceptable so long as the original points are cited as resources.

When working on assignments, students must remember that borrowing too many words or ideas from other individuals -- even if properly cited -- is typically not the way to a good grade. Professors want students to understand the material and present that knowledge in a succinct, intelligent way.

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