Plagiarism: It’s not the easy option

When a person copies and reproduces another person’s work, this is usually done with very little thought about or interpretation of the work being copied. This means that the ideas, concepts, arguments, methodological processes and so on that are being presented in the original work are unlikely to be truly understood by the person who has copied that work.

To develop a good understanding of a subject, and to be able to critically analyse and apply such ideas and concepts to your own work, you have to engage with the research and work that contributes to the subject knowledge. And to do that you have to actively think about what you are reading, or hearing about. Copying is a passive activity and you cannot afford to be passive when you are trying to make sense of complex ideas. If you can express in your own words how a process works, why an experiment produced a certain set of results, how a researcher developed his or her theory, you will have a greater and deeper understanding of all this than if you try to regurgitate someone else’s words.

The academic community you are now part of expects you to take an active role within it, and to respect the people who work within it. Your lecturers expect you to know what you are writing and talking about, and will expect you to defend and justify your work. Demonstrating your original thought process, with reference to the collection of research we have already discussed, will show that you understand what you have learnt and read, and at the very least, that will mean you receive much better results.

By not plagiarising you will:

  • feel more confident when tackling exams
  • feel confident at seminar discussions
  • know how to express an academic opinion, backed up by strong information sources
  • be better able to answer questions at your project viva or presentation
  • be competent in handling literature searches for major coursework projects (including your PhD if you go into research)
  • develop your subject knowledge
  • know “who’s who” in your examiners’ working world
  • gain academic credibility (and thus gain credibility with future employers)
  • have pride in your work : it’s all yours
  • apply for jobs with confidence,  knowing that you won’t be discovered as  incompetent in basic information-handling skills.

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