Plagiarism is stealing information and content that is created by other individuals and passing that information off as original self-created work. Perhaps what makes plagiarism such a crime is the act of not only taking credit for another individual’s work, but taking credit and not providing the proper citations or crediting the actual original author of the content. This is problematic and is a common and serious offense for multiple reasons. It is the theft and misrepresentation of ideas, the taking of an author’s individuality and original thoughts, and it allows those who plagiarize to be praised and take credit, and in some cases profit, from the individual owner’s hard work. It is a form of cheating and not working for what is earned.

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Over the past few years, there have been many high-profile cases surrounding the crime of plagiarism. Patricia Fusch’s article “The Ethical Implications of Plagiarism and Ghostwriting in an Open Society” provides examples of such cases. One of those cases concerns Doris Kearns Goodwin who used passages from three other works in her book The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys. Although Goodwin stated that she did use footnotes to reference the authors of the passages, she failed to use actual quotes and proper citation. This disaster led her to be forced to pull her book off the shelves and to settle the matter of plagiarism in court with the original authors of the stolen passages.

Many would say that plagiarism is not a serious offense; however, that is quite the contrary. It is a breach of ethical conduct and shows lack of integrity. Laws and rules are already set in place to discourage this offence and range from a slap on the wrist up to serious legal action. In regard to a college or university, it is fair for students to receive the harsh punishments of automatic failure or suspension. It is up to the faculty and parents to instill a sense of integrity in students of the ramifications of plagiarizing. It is important to routinely go over its prohibition, set expectations, and use software to check for occurrences.

  • Fusch, Patricia I., et al. “The Ethical Implications of Plagiarism and Ghostwriting in an Open Society.” Journal of Social Change, vol. 9, no. 1, 2017, pp. 55-63.