How to Combat Internet Plagiarism
In the past, plagiarism was practiced as a means of desperation or necessity, instead of out of pure laziness as it tends to be today. Now, with the development of the Internet, there are many websites that offer tips, sources for papers, along with papers that have already been written and submitted to the website. All of these can be free for download, or if you need a special kind of paper, it can be made specifically for a price ranging between $8.95 and $20.00 per page. All these illegitimate recourses are available to a person who is able to navigate around the Web.[i] Along with this, there are also ways for teachers and professors to track down the sources of suspected Internet plagiarism. This paper will include information on both of these subjects.
A student looking for legitimate topics for a research paper could type any relevant word into a search engine and find hundreds of websites containing written documents that have information, which the student could include in his or her paper. But, with the technology available today, the same student has the option to “cut and paste” the written text into his or her own paper until he or she has enough information to fill the entire paper, without doing any research for themselves. Using anyone else’s words or ideas without attribution is plagiarism, and if these students do not give reference to the people who wrote the information, they fall grounds to it. ii
There are many websites that are dedicated solely to helping students plagiarize. According to Laurie J. Flynn, in her article in The New York Times, more than 10,000 people a month visit the website “schoolsucks.com,” which is a website that offers essays, book reports, term papers and even doctoral dissertations for download. Also, pieces of homework are posted online, and available for free. According to Kenneth Sahr, the man who started “schoolsucks.com”, his customers ranged in age from middle-school students to the age of about 25, but it is mostly middle-school students and high-school students.i
In the same article, Flynn says that the idea to start this website came to Sahr when he was a journalism student at Miami International University, and he argues that his site offers students a mixture of research and inspiration to aid in getting their papers or homework started.i What Sahr does not explain is why these students are able to download complete research papers, with sources cited and in MLA format, from his website, with a few clicks of a mouse.
Along with the alarming statistics of students that dabble around with online plagiarism, there is an element of comedy in this in. In the same article, Flynn states that Sahr and his associates do not exercise any quality control in the papers submitted to their website. “’Anything and everything gets posted’, he says, ‘except for the occasional violent essay or anything that proselytizes for a...