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Copy. Paste. Fail.

Every student at BYU-Idaho, whether they know it or not, has exposure to the word plagiarism. Now that students have access to a worldwide web of information that allows them to search almost any topic instantly, plagiaristic acts occur too often.

“Students have told me why they’ve plagiarized,” said Mark Bennion, the English department chair in an email interview. “They’ve most often done so without thinking about the consequences of their choices. They’re desperate to do well and don’t think about the spiritual and academic costs.”

In a survey conducted by Rutgers University, the majority of 24,000 students admitted to plagiarizing at some point in their schooling. This also suggests that the majority of students understand what plagiarism is.

“Plagiarism is using other people’s words and ideas without giving them credit,” said Adam Elliot, a sophomore studying business management.

BYU-I identifies five different types of plagiarism; two of those forms of plagiarism are direct and incidental plagiarism. Bennion gave his understanding of why students choose direct plagiarism.

“Some students plagiarize because they feel a lot of pressure to do well, and they give in to that pressure,” Bennion said. “They want to maintain good grades and feel like their only way to do so is to use the ideas of others because it’s fast and easy.”

There are other reasons why students plagiarize. In an analysis of a Pew Research Center study done by Affordable Colleges Online, almost 70% of teachers found technology “increased the likelihood of students procrastinating, taking shortcuts, and intentionally or unintentionally plagiarizing source materials when writing papers.”

According to the BYU-I website, incidental plagiarism is the use of another person’s words, ideas or data without the proper citation or reference.

“There are a handful of students who don’t understand plagiarism—and it’s various degrees—because they haven’t had solid training in how to properly cite their sources,” he said.

To make sure students have a better understanding of plagiarism, Bennion suggests that students visit BYU-I’s Academic Honesty page to review the University Standards.

Academic disciplinary action is not the only downfall to stealing another person’s intellectual property.

“I think plagiarizing harms the soul,” Bennion said. “We wouldn’t dare borrow a roommate’s backpack without asking. Why would we do so when it comes to ideas? Appropriate attribution of sources creates greater credibility for the person writing. We act with integrity when we recognize others’ ideas, words, insights, etc.”

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