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  • Addison Marie Timmerman

What Is Plagiarism?

Either as teachers or students, we have all done assignments, and some of us might have plagiarized one time or another. Especially in school, we always hear about plagiarism, but, after all, what is it? According to the dictionary, plagiarism is “​​the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.” Now, sometimes people may unintentionally plagiarize, not even realizing it, but how do we know for sure how plagiarism is committed?

Copy and paste!!! I know, it’s tempting, just two clicks and you have your entire essay done, even buying work online (what a waste of money-) and using it as your own seems like an easy escape to a momentary problem! Or maybe copying your peers’ answer, or even asking them to share their work with you so you can “get some ideas.” Maybe you get a family member, friend, tutor, or anyone to do portions of a paper or your entire work, or maybe it’s taking an idea from another source and using it without giving it any credit.

You could be taking pieces from a source and re-wording it to make it yours! Who knows? There are a lot of ways to plagiarize, but the main question is…

Why do people do it?

I know! What a crime! But why? What is the motive? Plagiarism may be committed for different reasons. Maybe it seems easier to do so, or you’re a procrastinator (and decide to do you work on the last day so you rush it, accidentally plagiarizing-), maybe you’re stressed, maybe you don’t even know what plagiarism is, maybe you don’t know how to do the assignment, maybe you fear failure, or maybe you accidentally plagiarize!

Something like that- right? There are a ridiculous number of ways to plagiarize, so let’s break it down to the most common ways of plagiarism…


Some people think that plagiarism is “easy”, “simple”, or another quick method of getting work done. If you are not willing to work hard for what you must do, plagiarizing is a shortcut to success. But really, plagiarizing takes the same amount of time and effort as it does to actually do the assignment. People don’t understand how difficult plagiarizing with success is. Doing the work is honestly easier when you don’t get accused of plagiarizing, but when you plagiarize, it’ll be more difficult to try to hide it. Sometimes, you won’t even be in the mood to do work, so you plagiarize, or, possibly, you have too much work from other classes to do, which gives you an even better reason.

If you are a procrastinator, you’ll most likely tackle the task the day before it’s due, which means; plagiarism will be a big option to complete that work in a limited amount of time.

Regardless, plagiarizing to take the short-cut just won’t do you well. It’ll take more effort to plagiarize, hiding it, and really just makes you feel guilty after you’ve done it.

No More Stress and Pressure

Yes, of course we get stressed. When we have a lot of work to do, we’ll be stressed with the limited time we have to do it, and maybe some personal problems that are going on. All of that together makes you feel anxious and have the need to do an assignment quickly, thus seeing plagiarism as your only option

In such cases, you can ask your teacher for an extension and so you can actually do your work on time and avoid plagiarizing, both on purpose or accidentally.

Not Knowing What It Is and Misunderstanding

Sometimes, students are not aware of plagiarism and how to avoid it. If students do not have the proper knowledge surrounding plagiarism, the chances of them actually doing it without even noticing increases drastically. Now- is this their fault?

Yes and no.

Yes, they are plagiarizing, but no, they aren’t educated on plagiarism. This is an encouragement to spread awareness about such a term; teaching students, family, and anyone else about it.

Some students may be aware of plagiarism, but may misunderstand it. Taking a piece of text and changing up the words a bit may seem fine, but that’s also plagiarism.

These may be silly mistakes, but they can be avoided.

Not Understanding The Assignment

You may not understand how to do the assignment, how to answer the question, or how to complete what you’re working on. Sometimes, you may feel shy to ask or reach out for help from your teacher, so you’ll plagiarize alone without any help.

Sure, this may seem like a good option, you don’t have to bug your teacher, you’ll get your work done flawlessly, but really, your teacher wants you to understand! It matters more for you to actually understand the content than to get an assignment done perfectly. In the end, you’ll just get caught anyway.

Fear of Failure

We all fear failure- trust me. Falling grades, failing a task, doing something wrong, etc. If you fear mis-doing an assignment, your instinct will be; I have to do this well or else disappointment will be bestowed upon me- Or at least that’s what some people think. Something like that, right? You may plagiarize because of kakorrhaphiophobia or atychiphobia, the fears of failing or disappointing. I know, it may seem scary, but if you try and give it your best shot, you’ll prove all that you need to prove. Please, ask for help! It is always important to remember that your teachers are well aware of your age, previous experience, and accomplishments. They don’t expect you to turn in a flawless assignment at first, their main goal is to see progress in your work despite your starting point.

It may seem hard, and you don’t want to disappoint, but plagiarizing isn’t the solution! Asking for help, working hard, or other ways are the best ways to do your work, and if you don’t do as well as you thought you’d do, it’s alright!

Accidentally Plagiarizing

This is the most common way of plagiarizing… accidentally doing it. Sometimes, you may be writing your assignment and researching at the same time, and you can accidentally plagiarize! Let’s state some examples; If you copy it and you don’t put quotation marks around it and a citation from where you got the information from, if you keep the information the exact same but you write it in a different order(Ex: Column A first and then Column B afterwards switched to Column B first and then column A afterwards), if you keep it in the same order but change the words (Ex: “The dog barked viciously at the man nearby.” to “The canine barked savagely at the man nearby.”), and more! Sure, this is accidental, but you must be aware of plagiarism even if doing it by accident!

Is it worth the risk…?

Is plagiarizing worth it in the end? No. You’ll always end up caught, teachers use different tools to determine if you’ve plagiarized. Can you work on your assignment without plagiarizing? Yes! You can do everything without plagiarizing! You make your own choices with the work you’re trusted to do, so choose wisely.

Just as Sophocles said, “I would prefer even to fail with honor than to win by cheating.”

Before this article ends, I would like to give a huge thank you to my English teacher,

Ms. Crystal VanCleef, she was the one who provided me with this information is the reason I decided to make this article. Thank you!

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