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Online Services and Plagiarism

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The internet has become an integral part of our every day lives. The internet has become the first place one goes to in such for information. The frequency of using Internet to search resources in academic writings has also increased. The internet is a helpful and convenient source of academic writing. However, the internet as a source of academic writing is prone to abuse and may even lead to plagiarism, as the users choose the easy way of copy and paste original information directly from the internet, or by simply altering a few words, and without giving credit to the original author of that information.

This has led to the popular belief that the internet has caused an increase in the rate of plagiarism and there have also been claims that internet should not be used as a source of information in academic writing. There maybe some truth in that it is easier to copy and paste original information. However, internet is and should remain as an important source of information for academic writers. This research will address technological plagiarism, how it affects academic and research writing.

The need for academic writing and research is only likely to increase. In the modern world, technology is the way to go and it is therefore important to address how to reduce technology plagiarism. The research will therefore also address the importance of the internet as a source of academic and research writing and how it has affected increase in plagiarism. The research will assist in understanding plagiarism and how it can be prevented in academic writing, without eroding the need to use another author’s original information.

The internet has made it easier for students to cheat in their academic writing. Cyber cheating can be in several ways. The most common form of cyber cheating is the copy and pasting information from a website. Another form of cheating for students is where the students buy already written essays through the internet (Howard, 2007). Recent research has tried to dispute the popular believe that internet has contributed to an increase in the rate of plagiarism with students. These researchers have tried to be convincing that the results are exaggerated. They downplay the extent to which plagiarism affects academic performance in the modern day colleges. However, there are those who believe that internet has made it easier to plagiarize and cheat in academic writing.

A 1993 research by Maramark and Maline as cited by Scanlon (2003) indicated that of all the students that were surveyed, between 9 and 95 percent of them admitted to have been involved in some type of dishonesty. The rate is higher with high school students than college students. The rates of plagiarism were lower when the surveys conducted self revaluation surveys. However when students were asked to give an opinion on if their colleagues used cheated in their academic writing, the rates were higher 50.4 percent as compared to only 8 percent on self assessment. The rate of those who bought essays through the internet was 8.3 percent for te self-reported while 62.2 percent believed that their colleagues used theses essay writing websites. This indicates that the students were not being very open in admitting their own guilt on plagiarism.   

Plagiarism has serious consequences to the students as it is a form of cheating. This affects the student’s quality of learning. The internet provides quick and easy solutions for the students and they therefore do not see the need to struggle to learn and work on their academic papers. They only have to visit a website for their academic writing from where they can copy solutions from other students (Howard, 2007). This has affected the quality of academic qualifications. The students will just copy the material or buy the same from the many websites offering writing services.

There is no learning involved for these students, and hence no production of new valuable material that can be used in their academic programs and careers. Johnson-Eilola and Stuart (375 - 403) notes that plagiarism is oppressive and harmful to the academia. Plagiarism reduces academic integrity. It also interferes with the learning process. Students assignments are meant to assist improve the students’ communication and learning skills. By copying or buying essays from the websites, the assignments fail to achieve this objective. The results are that the academic system fails to promote originality in thinking for the students. Plagiarism leads to a reduction in the students’ ability to learn.

As mentioned previously, plagiarism is a threat to originality. It disrespects the individual’s right to intellectual property. The action can be taken as an insult to the original publisher’s hard work. This may discourage original and creative writing. This originality is facing other threats all from the online services, which maybe supporting plagiarism in an indirect but very serious way. This is in form of recent software, Dynamicbooks that has been developed by Macmillan (Motoko, 2010). With this software, editors can edit the contents of an original online book at any time and without the permission of the original author. The editor can change, delete or add information.

All one needs to do is subscribe and edit the book, thus introducing a new version of the original book and without the permission of the original version. What makes it worse is the fact that students from diverse colleges will have a chance of buying edited e-books from dynamicbooks.com, and at a cheaper price than the original version of the book (Howard 3-15). This is a discouragement to creativity and originality in the academic field, as publishers will be reluctant to produce materials, which will be altered and sold at a cheaper price (Johnson-Eilola and Stuart 375 - 403).

Plagiarism has the negative effect of eroding morals.  It leads to lack of independent academic scholarship. It also affects the development of intellectual property among the students. Mazzeo (750-751) also noted that plagiarism damages the credibility of both the individual and even the institution. Since the students have not been learning effectively, they pass exams and graduate but in actual fact they are not qualified intellectually. This lack of qualification will be detected in the job market when these new graduates do not perform to the employer’s expectations.

The institution that produced these graduates losses its reputation and is avoided by future students as everyone would like to be associated with a reputable firm that produces effective and qualified employees Scanlon (161-165).  In addition to this, plagiarism causes irregularity in the grading system. The irregularity will be noted when there is unexplainable pattern between the students grading on the assignments and exams that are done under-supervision. This irregularity may lead to questions being raised and at times the teaching professor maybe questioned. According to Howard (2007), it has been noted that there has been notable turnover of facilitators with their names having been tarnished by poor grades and irregularities that result from plagiarized works.

In order to minimize plagiarism, most of the academic institutions have responded to this by using software that detects plagiarism in the student’s assignments. Though this has worked, it is only in the short term and more requires to be done in order to reduce this vice. For one, the plagiarism-detection software runs the risk of interfering with the student’s intellectual property rights, as their academic writing has to be posted the students work to the websites offering these services such as Turnitin.com (Howard, 2007). Thus the institutions should create awareness on the effects of plagiarism. They should introduce student development programs that address academic dishonesty (Scanlon, 2003). These programs should be used to educate the students on what is ethical as well as provide solutions that connect students to lectures instead of using mechanical methods of fighting the device.

The development of technology has its many benefits. Any type of information is available at any time form any where only at the click of a mouse. However, technology has its negative effects, one of these effects being the increase in plagiarism. It is apparent that plagiarism is growing fast and wide. It is a severe epidemic in today’s academic world. The dangers of plagiarism are many. It can have serious effects in learning. Without learned graduates, there are other serious consequences, among them unqualified employees who cannot think and make decisions independently.

It encourages laziness and discourages originality. With all these negative effects effective long lasting solutions should be sought after, which are accommodative rather than prohibitive. The subject requires more research and especially on the existing copyright laws in relation to plagiarism, and also on the effects of plagiarism between teachers and the students. The researches will be of help in my future academic writings.

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