Research is an innate part of our human existence. Our general physical and mental well-being, the way we communicate and conduct our life, and most importantly, our everyday choices and decisions depend on it. Today, the world is experiencing a period of overwhelming change and reactive coping is no longer sufficient. Anticipating change has become critical to the survival of individuals and institutions (Weingand, 1995). It is here that we need research to provide us with the knowledge base to ably anticipate and prepare for what is to come. Our generation is fortunate because we have more than enough choices today for the necessary research tools we need to suit the specific purpose of our study and with the advent of computers and other technological advances, we can conduct our research with much speed and accuracy.
As a researcher, it would be difficult to limit one’s choice of research methodology to a singular method because each has its own advantages and disadvantages. A researcher needs to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each method and at the same time learn the necessary skills to effectively apply it for a successful outcome. Moreover, the techniques must be appropriate to the situation or problem involved and meaningful and intellectually acceptable to those individuals who will ultimately have to make policy decisions and actions (Becker, 1985). Traditional approaches are gradually becoming passé as new methodologies are being discovered and introduced in a hope of coping up with the wide expanse of the problems of the future, the need for urgent solutions, and the rapid rate of change. But still none of these methods, solely by themselves, can fully guarantee certainty, scientific validity or reliability. Ultimately, the choice of research methodology is still best left to the better judgment of the researcher. Weingand (1995) said that we need to put our best efforts in making the right choices and decisions in conducting our research work remembering that “today is the future we worried about yesterday and the result of decisions that we made yesterday”.
According to the 1997 New Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, plagiarism is “the unauthorized use of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own.” Plagiarism is attempting to pass off the work of another person beside your own. Whether intentional or not, any action performed in which you claim another person’s idea/s as your own would constitute plagiarism. Plagiarism is also considered as a grave academic offense and as such, everyone should be aware of what constitutes plagiarism. As the saying goes, “ignorance excuses no one.”
Common forms of Plagiarism include downloading from an online source and not giving credit to the sources, buying or borrowing an assignment from another person and submitting as your own, copying the exact words from a book or article without proper citation and by using another person’s idea In order to avoid plagiarism, it is important to take note of the following:
1. Give credit to your sources – citing a source is done every time an idea, whether spoken or written is not originally yours. The exception to this rule is when referring to common knowledge which may include famous dates or common sayings. If in doubt, make sure the source is properly cited.
A. Use footnotes or endnotes – this is done by entering a small, superscript number after a quote or paraphrase. This number corresponds with a numbered note either at the bottom of the page or the end of the text which gives out the source for that specific quotation or statement which was paraphrased.
B. In text citations – this is done by listing either the name of the publication or the author of the work enclosed in parenthesis right after the quotation or when paraphrasing. However, any work should not contain a majority of quotes and it should still reflect the writer’s own original composition
C. Citing websites where you gained your material – when getting your materials from a website, be sure to supply the name of the website, the URL, date of publication and the date when you accessed that specific site.
D. Create a list of all sources used at the end of the paper. This list is known as the Bibliography, Reference list or the Works Cited page depending on the format guide you are following
In paraphrasing, be sure to rewrite the original extract or paragraph using words and sentence structure that is entirely your own. When retaining snippets of original words or phrases, make sure that it is enclosed in quotation marks and properly cited. The paraphrased idea should still reflect the meaning of the original source however, and should contain no more and no less. The same goes when writing the summary of an original work.
In most schools, plagiarism is taken as a very serious and grave offense. Each school or university has its own system on how to admonish or mete out penalties for plagiarism which may depend on whether the person is a repeat offender or if there is unintentional plagiarism from the student’s part.
Consequences of plagiarism may range from being given a failing grade or a zero for the work submitted or at the worst case, being expelled from the academic institution. Plagiarism may also bring about legal consequences such as lawsuits from the author or writer who was plagiarized so as to recover from their lost sales. Furthermore, one’s reputation will forever be tarnished and injured. Any work submitted may be regarded as suspect every time that may cause a professional injury in the long run.
Oftentimes, if the plagiarism is unintentional, the teacher should offer their help towards the students in undertaking the writing process. They should also make a referral to the student writing center or recommend that students who are doing poorly undertake writing classes.
However, if the plagiarism is intentional, the consequences meted out may vary from person to person. Some may just ask students to repeat their assigned tasks or research their topics again. Some may fail students from their course or expulsion from the academic institution itself.
Finally, it is important to read and understand your own school’s policy regarding plagiarism in order for the both student and educator to be guided by the rules and regulations as there are variations in the rules implemented by each school or university
Aaron, Jane and Bander, Elaine (1999). The Little, Brown Essential Handbook for Writers. 1st Canadian ed.
Becker, H. S. (1985). Making futures research useful: The practitioner’s opportunity. Futures Research Quarterly, 1:2.
Hacker, D. (2003). A Writer’s Reference. 5th Ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s Press pp. 391-2.
Howard, Rebecca (1993). A Plagiarism Pentimento. Journal of Teaching Writing.
Plagiarism (1997). New Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, page 508
Spatt, Brenda (2003). Writing from Sources. Bedford, Freeman & Worth.
Weingand, D.E. (1995). Futures research methodologies: Linking today’s decisions with tomorrow’s possibilities. Retrieved on October 30, 2008, from http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla61/61-weid.htm