Plagiarism refers to the use of another person’s piece of work as one’s own and for personal advantage without proper acknowledgement of the original work. This could be words, ideas or products of another author. Plagiarism may not necessarily mean the same as copyright where one infringes on the copyright law. It may occur deliberately or accidentally and involves copying a material from a book, copying and pasting information from the internet or even copying answers from fellow students during an examination or class assignment. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense where professionals have lost their license to practice and students have lost their academic degrees because of the vice. Different organizations have different penalties for plagiarism and have developed guidelines on how the penalties should be carried out.
The BHS Writing Handbook maintains that plagiarism has dire consequences such as, scoring an Fail-grade in an exam, the teacher calls the student’s home; referral is made to the vice-principal, one day suspension is issued for first referral, second referral results in a three-day suspension and third referral results in a five-day suspension. The Babylon Junior-Senior High School Research Paper Style Guide claims that plagiarism has increased due to the increased reliance on the internet by students
There are two main things one needs to understand concerning plagiarism: prevention and consequence. Prevention involves understanding what plagiarism is, where it occurs and how to avoid it. One should understand whether something is common knowledge and whether the readers already know the information or not, whether it is found in general references sources or whether the information is found from an undocumented source. If something is not common knowledge one should cite the information and ask for assistance where necessary. One should also be able to understand the penalties involved by the use of other people’s knowledge and how different organizations deal with such offenders. In the Babylon school for instance, a student who is suspected to have committed an act of plagiarism is subjected to a three-teacher committee who scrutinizes the work. If upon review, it is found out that the paper has been plagiarized, the student scores a zero and cannot be penalized more than what the paper was worth.
Cheating on the other hand refers to unauthorized giving, sharing, taking or presenting another person’s information or material for own benefit. Cheating occurs in various forms such as copying an exam from a friend’s paper, using study aids or materials during an exam or working with another person on a take-home assignment when it has not been authorized by the teacher. Plagiarism also occurs when reference is not made to materials used in the paper. Proper citation should be made on all facts that are not common knowledge, direct quotations or paraphrased words from somebody else’s work. Citation should be dependent on what format the instructor requires. Therefore, parenthetical references are made immediately following a quotation or another's idea. Referencing is therefore important to acknowledge materials from which the information was obtained. It is included on the last page of the paper and the format depends on the writing format used. When quoting or citing a source, one should be explicit and clear on the author, title, date, place, publisher, and page numbers as necessary.