Plagiarism. It’s the dirtiest word in the education lexicon – and for good reason.
Plagiarism is the theft of someone else’s work and passing it off as your own. It’s hard to believe anyone would support such a dastardly idea, yet plagiarism is more rampant than ever in academic settings. The advent of the Internet expanded the reach of plagiarism ten-fold and took the practice to an entirely new level.
With the vast databases of research papers and essays available on the Internet, students suddenly could find grad-worthy work on just about any topic. With no work necessary at all, students could download the paper and submit it without questions.
It took teachers a while to catch on and discover the extent of the problem that was proliferating on the web. Soon software products – that analyzed papers against huge databases of known work – began to pop up to counter the problem. And that leveled the playing field. The Wild West era of online research paper mills was at an end. But the practice continues – rest assured.
Now, it is much easier for plagiarized work to be recognized. Teachers and professors know this and so do their students – most of them anyway. Still, there are many sites still available that offer free essays and those that come with a price. Many; however, have changed their modus operandi to lessen the trespass on educational standards.
The potential for abuse doesn’t necessarily justify considering all of these sites plagiarism enablers. Essays and research papers available on the Internet can have justifiable educational purposes. In trying to determine a research topic, or in getting started on a project, it can be helpful to examine what other work exists on the same topic. This can help determine direction and – assuming the paper is annotated – can lead to worthy research resources where independent analysis can be conducted.
Writers of all stripes frequently refer to the work of other authors in developing their own project. In many cases, this pre-research effort will serve to support the paper’s overall integrity and not detract from it.
As long as the essay or research paper is used as a basis for research and not as an alternative to research, the purpose remains legitimate. Once you try to pass the work off as your own, problems emerge. Given the plethora of software programs now available that can scan the Internet for fakes, it is unlikely you’ll get away with much anyway.