Why Plagiarism is an Unacceptable Academic Practice
How it works
The word “plagiarism”, as analyzed by the Bran Academy, derives from the Latin word which in turn derives from the Greek word and it means. The Latin word meant ‘theft of men’ and its adjective > was used to indicate that person who took possession of other people’s slaves or it was used to indicate that person who held one or more free men in slavery. This meaning has accompanied the adjective plagiarus until it was first used by the Latin writer Martial in one of his works.
In fact, Martial in one of his works uses the adjective plagiarus to indicate the poet Fidentino who, even if he wrote his own poems, went around the country reciting some Martial’s lines as if they were his own . Martial’s work referred to is the Epigram called: ‘It is said around, Fidentino, that you act my poems in public as if they were yours. I will give them to you, if you want them to be called mine: buy them if you want them to call them yours, and they will no longer be mine'(I, 29; 95). Obviously, as it is well analyzed in Raffaele Setti’s text, Martial’s intent was to define that poet who traveled around the country reciting his verses as a thief, a thief of verses. It is important to highlight that with Martial’s epigram we assist for the first time in history an author who claims his copyright, even if in the sixteenth century there were no laws that protected copyright.
How it works
The use made by Martial in his work does not go unnoticed and the adjective plagiarus is increasingly used to appeal to a person as a thief of books. To the point that the Calepin, a Latin dictionary of the sixteenth century, inside explained the term plagiarus either as the one who took possession of others’ slaves, or the one who held one or more free men in slavery, but also as one who steals “verses” and uses them as his own .
Chapter I – Definition of plagiarism
Currently, when we talk about plagiarism, we mainly talk about intellectual theft. Plagiarism is in fact the use of ideas, words, texts, information, graphics, images and expressions of other people without mentioning the source. So we talk about plagiarism when we attribute to ourselves things done by other people.
To be more specific and technical we can resume the definition of plagiarism that is provided to us by the online dictionary Garzanti, which defines plagiarism as ‘an illegal appropriation and disclosure, under your name, of a work or part of a work that is the result the ingenuity of others, especially in the artistic and literary field ‘. Then there are two other aspects of plagiarism that are important to analyze; in fact we must highlight that:
1) plagiarism is committed not only when we bring back other people’s things without mentioning the source, but also when we make a summary and reformulate others’ concepts with our words, without citing the source;
2) plagiarism is committed even when we report others’ things without mentioning the source, even if we have the consent of the author.
An exception to the above is ‘common knowledge’. The ‘common knowledge’ represents that set of information that is in the public domain.
Something is in the public domain if:
-what we are talking about is part of a patrimony of common knowledge;
-the copyright has expired. For example in Italy the deadline is set by law at 70 years after the death of the author;
-the copyright holder has sold it to the public domain, for example for educational purposes .
Today, unlike the past, plagiarizing is much easier thanks to the numerous information that can be found on the Internet, in fact, compared to the past, plagiarism is much more widespread, especially among young people.
Now the Web has become the main tool with which to carry out research because it makes available, free and at any time, a range of information that we can define infinite, for this reason it is important to speak today of cyber-plagiarism rather than simply plagiarism. The cyber-plagiarims is : “copying or downloading in part, or in their entirety, articles or research papers found on the Internet or copying ideas found on the Web and not giving proper attribution.” according to the University of Alberta Libraries Terminology page .
Chapter II – Types of plagiarism
Before explaining how plagiarism takes place in its specific forms, it is first necessary to make a distinction between plagiarism and counterfeiting. If with the word plagiarism as previously stated the action of someone who appropriates a work of others is indicated, counterfeiting is the action by which a subject derives an economic benefit from another’s work without the author’s authorization.
Plagiarism can manifest itself in different forms, but first we must make a distinction between VOLUNTARY plagiarism and INVOLUNTARY plagiarism.
Plagiarism is voluntary when we intentionally decide to deceive who will see our work .
Plagiarism is involuntary when using sentences, ideas, images of others without giving authorship to the authors, because of neglicence .
Among the different and more specific forms of plagiarism we have the:
- TOTAL Plagiarism
Total / complete plagiarism occurs when one of our work reproduces totally the content of others’ work without making changes to the original, and of course everything happens without mentioning the author .
- PARTIAL Plagiarism
Partial plagiarism occurs when, in one of our work, we insert part of another’s work without modifying its content, form and words without attributing authorship to the authors .
- PARAPHRASED Plagiarism
Paraphrased plagiarism occurs when the whole of one of our work reproduces, in a whole or in part, others’ work by modifying some words, modifying the language but leaving unchanged the ideas presented by the author .
- MOSAIC Plagiarism
Mosaic plagiarism is similar to the paraphrase and occurs when in one of our works we use all or part of works of 2 or more people, reformulating the form but leaving unchanged the authors’ ideas and the structure of the original texts .
- SELF Plagiarism
Self-plagiarism occurs when, in one of our work, we use completely or partially our other previously made works.
In this case plagiarism occurs when, even if we mention the name of the source, we do not allow those who view our work to check whether it is plagiarized or not.
In a particular way we talk about incorrect paternity when:
1. we mention only the author of the work to which we refer without indicating the work
2. we cite the work and the author to whom we refer but the source supplied is incorrect .
Chapter III – Plagiarizing has never been so easy
If before people had to find books or paper documents and then identify the parts that interested them, today we just type in Google what we need and we access a multitude of information, either in our mother tongue or not, which before was previously impossible find. All this has done nothing but increase the number of plagiarts on the world scene. Just think that already in 2010, that is 8 years ago, a study conducted by Compilatio.net on an Italian university revealed that ‘a quarter of the thesis contains more than 15% of plagiarism from the internet and 5% of the thesis contains more of 40% plagiarism” .
If the data collected by Compiliatio.net are related to Italy, with Noplagio.net we have the opportunity to have a clear idea of the plagiarism situation in the world. Noplagio.net is the official platform that provides official statistical data to Europe and the USA. The data provided by Noplagio.net are the result of an analysis based on the documents and files uploaded by users online.
In particular, Noplagio.net provides statistics related to plagiarism in Europe and in the USA analyzing the different geographical parts of the two States. For example for Europe it is highlighted that ‘the rate of plagiarism varies from 26.1% in Romania to 4.7% in Denmark’ and ‘The average rate of plagiarism is 15.4%’. Noplagio.net also shows that countries with a milder climate such as Italy, Spain and Portugal have a higher rate of plagiarism than countries with a colder climate such as Norway or Sweden. In addition to making a climate distinction of the weights, the study of Noplagio.net also focuses on the economic aspect of European countries. In particular, it is highlighted by the study that the plagiarism rate is much higher in ‘poor’ countries than in ‘rich’ countries.
As for the USA, the situation becomes more complex and fragmented.
Rates of plagiarism in the USA ‘range from 24.2% in Louisiana to 6.4% in Vermont’
the countries with a higher rate of plagiarism are the countries of the south of the USA.
• ‘Southeast of the USA, rates range from 24.2% in Louisiana to 9.4% in Maryland’
• ‘Southwest of the USA, rates range from 21.8% in Texas to 14.0% in Oklahoma.’
The data analyzed before by the studies of Compilatio.net and Noplagio.net show how today plagiarism has become a practice and for this reason it is important to analyze also some of the possible causes that push people to plagiarize.
Plagiarism takes place mainly because:
• plagiarizing a person you can complete a job in less time
• plagiarizing a person you can present a job in the hope of obtaining a better result
• you have little patience
• there is little trust in your abilities
• you don’t have enough knowledge on the subject
Although these are just some of the causes, they make us understand how the chances that a person is prone to plagiarism are so high and that the statistics analyzed before are only destined to grow over time, unless a policy is implemented that provides for a form of anti-plagiarism control in a constant manner.
Chapter IV – Anti-plagiarism policies
In this regard we must mention laws and software that allow to limit and punish plagiarism. Regarding the laws we must refer to author’s right and copyright law. Author’s right as copyright gives the author a series of rights to protect his work. Copyright is a concept that was developed at European level for the first time with the Bern Convention of 9 November 1886.
The Bern Convention is made up of 38 articles and was created to create a European system that protected literary and artistic works.
Article 2 of the Berne Convention defines: ‘literary and artistic works all those productions in the literary, scientific and artistic fields … such as: books, pamphlets and other writings, conferences, choreographic works … musical compositions with or without words; cinematographic works, .. works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, … photographic works … ‘
The author’s right at European level has been the subject of numerous directives aimed at regulating author’s right in a harmonized way among European countries. The most recent directive is that of 2018 which has focused on the problems of dissemination of editorial, musical and intellectual works on the web.
There are many important articles including:
– Article 11 which provides that websites and any network must pay a fee to authors to be able to use their work
– Article 13 provides that all online sites that give their users the ability to publish content must check whether their users publish content that is protected by copyright.
Over the years, so, to prevent and detect cases of plagiarism computer programs have been developed and improves and they allow you to check the percentage of plagiarism present in the work.
Especially the anti-plagiarism software, that today are almost all available online, have a precise functioning:
1) The work is inserted into the program
2) The program compares the elaborate with all the data present in its program database;
3) Once the check has been completed, the program indicates the percentage of plagiarism present.
One of the most used software is Noplagio.net, an online service which has both a free version and a paid version, which can count a huge database and, in addition to appearing the document with articles, magazines, essays, books, compare it with over 14000 billions of websites.
Chapter V – Penalty when plagiarising
Penalty for plagiarism are different and even if the European directives try to harmonize copyright between the various States, each State applies different forms of sanctions. Another important aspect is that the penalties for plagiarism can also vary according to the reference field. We can generally say that when a person will certainly have an economic penalty that varies according to the severity and amount of material copied.
The author of the plagiarized work:
• will certainly have an economic penalty that varies according to the severity and quantity of material copied.
The economic penalty represents a compensation for the damage suffered by the author from whom it is copied.
• will be forced to pay the legal fees of his lawyer but also those of the person from whom he copied the job .
• he may be forced to eliminate his work and make a new one.
• may have sanctions not provided for by law but decided by the university or the place where he works. For example, if a student plagiarizes a thesis, there are universities as happened in Calabria who have suspended the graduation session .