Behavior behind plagiarism

Plagiarism if personified, does not have morality or dignity. It believes in impersonating others for the sake of enriching its value with a falsified pride of righteousness. Too much?! Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work. See what I did there, I plagiarized. But by saying “source Wikipedia” I de-plagiarized it. Plagiarism is an intellectual crime and an ethical offence in all its glory, although we need to understand why people do it?

Behavior is the de-facto why people plagiarize. People feel they lack the skills, they feel they are out of time, they don’t understand the act of idea theft and many other reasons why they decide on the path of dishonesty. The human psyche can be tamed, but people with the fear of loss in any form, give in and plagiarize. To know the root cause, we need to understand how the brain concludes with the thought of cheating. Matthew Whitaker was an associate history professor at ASU (Arizona state university) who was accused of plagiarizing in two of his books. Apart from that, a Phoenix city councilperson discovered that Mr. Whitaker has plagiarized 52 of 84 slides which he presented. The presentation was for Phoenix police department on “cultural consciousness training”. Why would he plagiarize? May be lack of research and writing skills; finding the right content using journals and scholarly articles is not that easy. And the skills required to actually use that content in your own words, is even harder. People might avoid doing that to save time, which promotes unauthorized content copying. Unrealistic deadlines create anxiety and pressure which prevent users from exploring original content. Citation means to quote an idea in an article, the confusion is people don’t quote the author and use the material anyway. Assuming that Mr. Whitaker wrote a book he might have violated any one or all of those. There might be many other reasons why people plagiarize. Some reasons can be as stupid as “that person is lazy”. Many education systems promote content copying. Students are taught how to write answers exactly the way they are written in a textbook. Students who can reproduce exact textbook answer, score more than who try to bring in their flavor in their writing. Teachers and professors alike do not promote creative and or precise writing on any topics. This kind of system hinders with the mind of the student, and after doing it for so long they believe in that system and implement it in their lives. This induced system subconsciously has caused many problems in these student’s life. Another example is about thieves who steal, but the reason behind any theft is psychologically simple. Thieves know they cannot afford it, but irrespective of that the desire of owning it provides them the motivation of stealing it. Can behavior be the only reason behind plagiarism?

Kleptomaniacs are people who have an urge of stealing without the knowledge of actually doing it. People might steal products such as shoes, bags, wallets etc; they might also steal articles, paragraphs or sentences unknowingly. Although, when the crime is committed in such a way should we really call it a crime? As that person has no agenda behind stealing. The subconscious habit might bring in more trouble than they realize. These people need to take needful action such as psychological guidance, which will help them overcome it.

Creativity and skill is required while creating anything new which is unique. Plagiarism is an act of opposing it. There is a need to understand that people have invested time, money and efforts when they create any product or text; stealing should be prevented. If anyone wants to create a similar product, they can be inspired by the existing one and create anew instead of stealing it. Procrastination, laziness, inferiority complex and fear are a few of the reasons why people plagiarize. If they become meticulous about the project or assignment they have taken, the chances of plagiarism will reduce drastically. Doing things on time, being a bit more involved in the process, overcoming fear of loss; instead looking at it as an opportunity to learn will solve most of the problem; will prevent the need of taking shortcuts. There can never be a solution for the crime of stealing, but providing guided solutions for the willful can reduce it.

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