The Deal with the Steal: The Politics of Plagiarism

By Liz Peters, Editorial Assistant
Art by Gracie Gralike, 19, Missouri

Children rarely like being labeled copy cats, and rightfully so.  From a young age, we are all taught that being yourself is worlds better than acting like somebody else. And if we are unique, what comes from us, even our school work, should be just as unique.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, plagiarism is taking the work someone else has done, and passing it off as your own. This process occurs most often  through a ‘copy and paste method’—from website to Microsoft Word in one quick motion. But even though what you might consider to be borrowing, common knowledge, or simply not a big deal, when you take someone’s ideas you’re messing with their intellectual property, which is protected by law.

There are several reasons  a girl might neglect her sense of fairness and/or get lazy and opt out of opportunities for originality in academia: reliance on the internet for analyses; hope of getting a better grade, a time crunch, feeling inferior to the subject, and/or compensating by using others’ knowledge as one’s own.

Avoid the Steal!  Building on the work of www.plagiarism.org (I’ve gotta be sure I cite my sources correctly, after all!), here are some tips to keep you legit:

1)      Site your sources….correctly!

2)      Give credit and use quotation marks where appropriate

3)      Manage your time well so that you will not feel rushed in completing an assignment, and thus less tempted to take the ‘easy way out’ and use someone else’s work

4)      Explore whether your school has anti-plagiarism software you can use to help prove to your teachers that your work is original and that other students have not stolen your work.  An increasing number of colleges and universities endorse the use of software that can detect plagiarism—either between students, as papers are archived, or from the internet—through program databases that compare with billions of websites! Turnitin and WriteCheck, which allows you to check your work for plagiarism and originality before handing it in, are examples. If you don’t have current experience with these yet, you may come across them in your future.

For more information on plagiarism, see:  www.plagarism.org.

For more information on intellectual property, see: http://www.hg.org/intell.html

Note:  Fact checking and citing sources correctly is something that we at Teen Voices take very seriously.  In fact, it’s a major portion of how our college-aged editorial interns spend their time here! They make sure that the feature articles produced by the teens in our program give proper credit for ideas and information.

A big ‘thank you!’ to plagiarism.org for aiding in the (original!) production of this piece!

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One response to “The Deal with the Steal: The Politics of Plagiarism

  1. Reblogged this on Liz Peters and commented:
    Some more work from Teen Voices!

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