There are lots of issues in our society that has misconceptions and plagiarism is not an exception. When found guilty of plagiarism, you are likely to find yourself in serious trouble because you ignored the copyright law that protects documents from original authors. When you ignore copyright law then you are liable to punishments. Because of the harsh consequences that come as a result of plagiarism, most people prefer not to talk about this topic. However, this discussion is about misconceptions and myths regarding plagiarism of which all writers should understand in order to write well.
- It is not a crime to plagiarize accidentally. With the tools and systems for checking plagiarism in documents, even paraphrasing can detect similar words borrowed from an original document. In as much as you put all your effort into paraphrasing, your composition can end up having few instances of plagiarized words. Students and professional writers are always encouraged to use online plagiarism checkers and they get puzzled when the checker shows them cases of similarities even when you did not intend to have the copied. In such a case, you try to explain how it was not your intention to plagiarize by pleading not guilty. You could have tried as much as you can to evade plagiarism but what remains is that you have still committed an offense just like others and the serious punishments apply to you. Therefore, accidental plagiarism is as serious as plagiarizing consciously.
- What is absent in the public domain cannot be considered plagiarism. Most people do not understand the difference between copyright and plagiarism because they believe that they can use ideas and words of another author and fail to acknowledge them because they are not on a public sphere. This is a myth and what is true is that it does not matter whether the author is on a public platform or not, the words and ideas you are using are not your own. Therefore you need to give credit to him and not doing so means your work is still plagiarized.
- What is on the internet is common knowledge. The internet is available, accessible and free to everyone who wants to use it and it could as well have common knowledge. Many people believe that because it is common knowledge and get from the internet, there is no need to cite information gotten from this platform. In as much as what you have used is common knowledge, authors have approached it with different definitions from a variety of reference books though they can be easily retrieved. Whether it is common knowledge or gotten from the internet, always remember to cite it.
- You only need to cite when you are using direct quotes. Students are lazy and most times fail to cite direct quotes because they assume the use of quotes already means these are not their words. And even if they use a source, they incorporate direct quotes and only cite when using such quotes. Words are used to communicate and it is not a crime using another person’s ideas or words as long as you are communicating. Even if you use direct quotes or paraphrase the quotes, remember to give attribution to the author in which your work is borrowed from because when you fail to do that, your final composition will still be considered plagiarized.
- A bibliography or in-text citation can be used. Both in-text citations and reference section should be used when writing your paper. You cannot choose to use either of the two. This is because whatever appears in the middle of your paper as a citation must also appear in the bibliography section. Using in-text citations often helps you prove that you have borrowed particular ideas while bibliography sections exist to help your audience locate these sources.
- It is not an issue when you self-plagiarize. Students might lack time to research and write original papers and one way to accomplish their assignments is rewriting what they have done in the past and submits it. This is still a form of plagiarism. Plagiarism is not only an issue when you borrow from another person’s work but stealing your own work can also put you in trouble. When you plagiarize your own work, you are liable to any form of punishment that pertains to plagiarism.
- It is very common to find plagiarism in non-English speaking countries. There is an existing myth that only in countries that do not speak English will plagiarism be found. Printing your work in English as a researcher could make you vulnerable to plagiarism. In non-English speaking nations, researchers publish their work in English because of the lack of confidence to express themselves globally using their native language.
Regardless of what language you use to publish your work, plagiarism is still regarded as a universal issue to both countries speaking English and countries that do not use English as their native language. It does not matter the country in which you come from, plagiarism is still punishable and therefore the misconception of having plagiarism in countries that do not speak English should be dropped. Copyright law is clear and therefore editors, researchers, and writers should still realize the dangerous effects of plagiarism and publish original work.