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Why Should You Avoid Plagiarism? - Demonstrating Your Academic Honesty

Most college students know they should be honest about their reliance on sources, but too often the citation of source material is thought of negatively, as avoiding punishment, as not being accused of plagiarism. Proper acknowledgment of sources also should be thought positively because when you are honest about your use of source material, you are demonstrating your skillful writing and research.

Academic writers are expected to acknowledge their reliance on other writers when they use paraphrased ideas, little known facts, unique wording, and direct quotations from other texts. Unfortunately, when writers do not manage research and writing very well, desperation can make a them resort to plagiarism,which is the theft of another person's intellectual work. Stealing the ideas and expressions of another person is like stealing a car; it's forbidden in academia and illegal in society.

Here's a blatant example of a student copying almost word for word from another text:

From "Youth and Marijuana." The Futurist 29.1 (1995): 43-4:
From an actual student's paper:
Marijuana use among high-school seniors in 1993 rose for the first time in 14 years, according to a survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA). . . . This recent increase reverses several years of declining drug use among youths. NIDA Director Richard Millstein says that this reversal is . . . "discouraging." Marijuana was found to be the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. Marijuana use among high school seniors in 1993 rose for the first time in 14 years according to a survey. This recent increase reverses several years of declining drug use among youths. Marijuana was found to be the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States.

Many instructors can spot this deliberate plagiarism because the writing style usually surpasses a desperate student's own abilities.

Most college students know they should not copy directly from their sources, but plagiarism also can occur as a result of sloppy note-taking, careless drafting, and excessive help.