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Olalekan Adeeko: Did You Know- The Scourge Called Plagiarism

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by Olalekan Adeeko
Expert Educator Expert, Nigeria

It is not a coincidence that I put pen to paper to write on plagiarism, it is something that I have technically done myself at a point in time.

What is Plagiarism?

olalekan-plagiarismMerriam Webster Dictionary defines plagiarism as “as the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person”. Wikipedia says: “it is the wrongful appropriation and stealing and publication of another author’s language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions and the representation of them as one’s own original work. Plagiarism is not restricted to only words or ideas but also music, image and video.

Let us dissect the definitions; stealing and wrong appropriation are strong words and I don’t think anyone would like to be associated with stealing.

Types of Plagiarism

Plagiarism.org conducted a plagiarism spectrum project which gave birth to the following categories of plagiarism:

  • Clone: When you copy word for word another person’s work and present it as your own work.
  • Ctrl+ C: When you copy a significant portion of a person’s work without making any changes.
  • Mash -Up: When you copy content from different sources and join it together.
  • Find & Replace: When you only change phrases and keywords from copied work.

Why do people gratify plagiarism?

Personally, I believe laziness is a key factor; the urge to get things done quickly with little effort can lead one to plagiarism.

Also, the lack of self believe and self-trust is a perceived reason for plagiarizing. When people do not believe in their ability, they may want to rely on another person’s work.

Furthermore, not putting one’s creativity to task is an issue too. In schools, students should not only be assessed only on lower-order thinking skills – i.e. knowledge and comprehension but also on higher-order thinking skills. Skills like analysis (being able to analyze content to create their own), application (being able to apply the knowledge to create content ) should be developed in our students.

Other reasons as listed by Gilmore (2009:32-33) are : If the school failed to deal with a case of plagiarism in the school; when the students are behind schedule; pressure from parents demanding good grades from their wards.

High-profile cases of plagiarism

Some high-profile cases of plagiarism as compiled by Wikipedia include a case involving James A Mackay, a Scott who had to withdraw all his biography of Alexander Graham Bell from circulation in its entirety after being accused of plagiarism. Another case was recorded in University of Colorado involving a professor, Ward Churchill, who got dismissed after being found guilty of plagiarism. A computer game “Limbo of the Lost” was involved in a case of plagiarism which led to its withdrawal from the market. A New York Times reporter named Jayson Blair had to resign in 2003 after plagiarizing articles and stories.

The question then is, how can one avoid plagiarism?

  • Be creative
  • Be innovative
  • Believe in yourself
  • Be humble enough to cite sources (acknowledgement) and seek for permission when necessary.
  • Be ready to obey copyright law

Here is a video from Manteca School District -“Embrace the Race” by Tammy Dunbar.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgODvX8BCck]

Visit royalty free sites for free images e.g. Getty images, pics4learning, haikudeck or simply take your own pictures.

I hope this post can make people have a change of heart and develop their creative minds and trust more in their abilities.

As for me, my Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert 2015 experience has started on a strong foundation and the impact will be lifelong.

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