An infectious, virulent plague is ravaging the landscape of academia. It consumes young and old, male and female. The doctors won’t touch it for fear of ineffective results do to the rampant spread of “everyone has done it.” Plagiarism, as defined by the Austin Peay Woodard Library (2004), is “the act of using someone else's words, sentences, or ideas and passing them off as your own without giving credit by citing the original source.” While plagiarism isn’t actually a disease, its spread has been nothing short of pandemic. An infographic found at Schools.com lays out a telling revelation that over 75% of students admit to some form of plagiarism in their academic career. (Lynch, 2011) On the surface, it would appear that we may never find the cure to plagiarism, especially with the rise of universal access to information on the Internet. It is my position that this simply isn’t true; a prescription exists to eradicate the virus of plagiarism: 1) educate students early and often about the dangers of plagiarism; 2) identify and utilize a set of tools that aid the student in avoiding accidental plagiarism; and 3) encourage and reward students who strive for academic honesty.
Counterclaim on Plagiarism
According to Nels Griffin, the pandemic of plagiarism is a hoax. He asserts in his paper that nearly every thought at this point is unoriginal; he goes so far as to say that, in part, all new thought is the derivative of the work of another mind. (Griffin, 2009) Some credence can be made for this argument in that most academic work rests on the shoulders of giants. The author, however, fails to really understand the purpose of citation. A citation is the method by which an author attributes credit and then builds an expanded idea or alternate interpretation of another’s work. It is disingenuous to believe that this occurs in earnest in our current world. Griffin states that punishment is too severe and that accidents occur. While this is true in some ways, the majority of students, around 82%, who complete a post-secondary degree, openly admit to having plagiarized at some point in their degree program. (Lynch, 2011) This is more than just a mild case of accidental copying. This demonstrates a full on diagnosis of apathetic application of the rules on plagiarism. A major argument for such extensive occurrence of plagiarism is the abundance of indirect peer pressure exerted by those that surround the student that cheat. (Callahan, 2006) Yet, according to Schools.com, “Peer pressure cuts both ways. Involving students in the creation of a culture of academic honesty can be a great way to curb cheating.” (Lynch, 2011)
Position of the Author
It is my assertion that we can cure the woes created by the plagiarism infection. The first site that we must approach for a cure is our current generation of students. This begins with children in the elementary school. From the moment that a student steps in the classroom, they...