Plagiarism: An Intellectual Theft.

Updated: May 15, 2020

Thou shalt not steal but paraphrasing is o.k.

King James Bible, teacher’s edition.


In the modern era with the development of science and technology we encounter with large number of sources for “information” while using such information from respective sources, some moral ethics must be taken into consideration; works created by other people is rightfully their intellectual property and if we use that work we are bound to acknowledge that.

The word “plagiarism” is derived from the Latin term “plagiare”. [1]This means to kidnap or abduct. Plagiarize is copy another person’s idea, words or works and pretend that they are your own. It is infecting more than simply copying someone else’s work. However internet and subsequent proliferation of information has made the problem more serious. Plagiarism usually discovered by scholars and researchers during the continuance of their research work. Plagiarism is one of the most severe violations of academic writing. It may have serious consequences for a student even expulsion from college/ University. [2] The Internet’s popularity has continued to grow since it first emerged; shocking the world with it’s never before seen technological capacities. It allowed for the communication of ideas and provided people with a wealth of information only a click away. More widely used now than ever before, the Internet supplies users with easy access to various kinds of information. With the unlimited availability of information on the web today, plagiarism has become a growing problem. The abundance of information available makes it easier and increases the temptation to steal other’s ideas. Plagiarism, which is taking credit for someone else’s ideas, is sometimes committed intentionally and other times accidentally. Often, copyrights are violated. In order to prevent this crime form being committed it is necessary that society is educated about copyright law and understands how to properly cite source material. Today, large number of people uses the Internet as a reference source as it contains a plethora of information, and documents found on the web can be of great use when doing research. However, if ideas, concepts, or words are taken from another author’s work, they must be properly cited. If they are not properly cited this is plagiarism, which is considered to be unethical act by society; it also violates copyright law, and thus is punishable by law. Often people do not realize that even if they are only paraphrasing or summarizing someone else’s work, idea, or concept and not directly quoting it they are still plagiarizing. Borrowing another person’s idea is permissible if credit is given to whom it is due. However, stealing someone else’s work or idea and acting as if it were your own is not. Thus, it is pertinent that proper citation is always used. If one fails to use proper citation, one is guilty of plagiarism, and may face legal charges for copyright violations.


Plagiarism is not always committed intentionally, but the people who purposely attempt to deceive others by stealing someone else’s ideas should take into account the seriousness of their actions and the consequences they may face if caught. For those people who are guilty of plagiarism, but did so unintentionally and were simply unaware of what they were doing should also take into consideration their actions to try to prevent this act from occurring again in the future. With a ready availability of information on the Internet, it is extremely easy to take someone else’s idea without using proper citation and giving credit to the owner, thus it is necessary that everyone be extremely cautious when borrowing an idea and use proper citation to avoid any disputes over copyrights. With the ever increasing rise of Internet usage, the Web has become a means of communication and sharing ideas. Its popularity has continued to grow since its first emergence and today it is uncommon for a household to be without some sort of Internet service. It is used by people of all ages, children, adults, and seniors, for entertainment, and as a reference tool. The Internet supplies users with easy access to various kinds of information. With the wealth of information available on the web today, plagiarism becomes an even bigger problem. Let us have a view on available forms of plagiarism.

Forms of Plagiarism

Types of plagiarism

1. Copy and Paste Plagiarism Any time you lift a sentence or significant phrase intact from a source, you must use quotation marks and reference the source. 2. Word Switch Plagiarism If you take a sentence from a source and change around a few words, it is still plagiarism. If you want to quote a sentence, then you need to put it in quotation marks and cite the author and article. But quoting Source articles should only be done if what the quote says is particularly useful in the point you are trying to make in what you are writing. In many cases, a quotation would not really be useful. The person who plagiarizes is sometimes just too lazy to synthesize the ideas expressed in the Source article. 3. Metaphor Plagiarism[3] Metaphors are used either to make an idea clearer or give the reader an analogy that touches the senses or emotions better than a plain description of the object or process. Metaphors, then, are an important part of an author's creative style. If you cannot come up with your own metaphor to illustrate an important idea, then use the metaphor in the Source Article, but give the author credit for it. 4. Idea Plagiarism If the author of the source article expresses a creative idea or suggests a solution to a problem, the idea or solution must be clearly attributed to the author. A WORD ABOUT "COMMON KNOWLEDGE" Students seem to have a hard time distinguishing author's ideas and/or solutions from common knowledge, or public domain information. Common knowledge or public domain is any idea or solution which people in the field accept as general knowledge. For example, what a black hole is and how it is defined is general knowledge. You do not need to reference a general description of a black hole. The escape velocity of earth is also general knowledge and needs no reference. The distance to the center of the Galaxy is also general knowledge. However, a new idea about how to look for black holes or a new solution to a physics problem needs to be attributed to the authors. If you don't know what is accepted as public domain in a particular field, ASK. 5. Reasoning Style/Organization Plagiarism When you follow a Source Article sentence-by-sentence or paragraph-by-paragraph, it is plagiarism, even though none of your sentences are exactly like those in the Source article or even in the same order. What you are copying in this case is the author's reasoning style. Plagiarist can be differentiated on the basis of the degree to which the copying has been done. Following are some of the identified categories of plagiarism…

1. Patch - work Plagiarism:- Copying different people’s words and work and presenting them as your own. 2. Global Plagiarism:- Taking or copying a whole piece of a particular work of another person. 3. Incremental Plagiarism:- It involves quoting or paraphrasing one’s statement without awarding credit to the originator. It has to do with quotation or paraphrase. 4. The Ghost Writer:- Plagiarist turns in another’s work, word for word, as his or her own. This can be called verbatim copy of another person’s work. 5. The Photocopy:- The plagiarist copies significant portions of texts straight from a single source, without doing any alteration. 6. The Potluck Paper:- Where one tries to disguise plagiarism by copying from several different sources, altering a few sentences and paragraphs here and there to make them fit together while retaining most of the original phrasing. 7. The Self Plagiarism[4]:- Where the plagiarist borrows generously from his or her previous work. This is common phenomenon among the writers that they publish the same material through different mediums without referencing it correctly. Moreover self plagiarism or recycling of an old work in a new guise is also a theft since the author leads the book-buyer to think that there is a new book of his on the market. The author is misleading his/her readers. Self plagiarism is fraud if not outright theft. It is axiomatic that in present scenario plagiarism has become very quite a common phenomenon. But there are cases where even though the author has never read on article or the piece, but commits plagiarism inadvertently. One may choose to write on the same topic as the other but the odds are that he may even convey the same ideas and express them similarly in his paper also. If this does happens it is highly unlikely that one will be accused of plagiarism. But one has to be definitely careful of accidental plagiarism where one could have read a piece and forgotten that he had actually read it somewhere. This is because if one’s ideas turn out to have been influenced by a source that you read but failed to cite for any reason, you could be guilty of plagiarism.

Why do humans Plagiarize?

Present generation is the generation of science and technological know-how the place the intellectual of the person had marched a lengthy way and attained a highest, and it is a great deal disgraceful for the reverent writer of cutting-edge generation that they turn out to be sufferer of plagiarism. Does it suggest that our technology is so a whole lot unable to transmit and produce something of their own except looting the cherished intellectual property of others?

Firstly, the foremost motive behind plagiarism is to reap and propping of one’s ego. There are number of writers, scholars, who even do not conscious about what they have written in their prestigious article. It is pertinent to point out here that there are so many more researchers who are incapable of producing correct work and they declare to have written themselves many articles and columns in their journals, magazines.

Secondly, laziness and fecklessness of writer, authors is subsequent important issue of plagiarism. There are the few writers who have innate wish to innovate new ideas. Many of the writers consider in reduce replica and paste.