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What is Plagiarism? Why is it important to avoid it?

01/08/2011

Etymology of Plagiarism

plagiarism Look up plagiarism at Dictionary.com1620s, from L. plagiarius “kidnapper, seducer, plunderer,” used in the sense of “literary thief” by Martial, from plagium “kidnapping,” from plaga “snare, net,” from PIE base *p(e)lag- “flat, spread out.” Plagiary is attested from 1590s. (from Online Etymology Dictionary)

The Coursebook for Res300 defines plagiarism as:
“the inclusion in your assignment of material copied or closely paraphrased from someone else’s writings (including textbooks and assignments by other students) without an explicit indication of the source of the material. It is considered to be cheating. Although the School encourages discussion amongst students, students who collaborate should be careful not to plagiarise.”

It effectively includes other people’s ideas, opinions and research findings, even if they’re not published. So, if you start your career by copying someone else’s material, and try to pass it on as yours, well, you’re not going to get very far. Firstly, because you won’t know or understand what it is you’ve copied (as the thinking process didn’t take place), you’ll get caught out when questioned. Secondly, you won’t be able to create any worthwhile projects, since you can’t possible think of an original idea yourself. It’s just not worth it. If it belongs to someone else, acknowledge it.

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