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  Weekly Feature: (August 20, 2001)


Plagiary! Who Me?
Brad's Weekly Feature

Plagiary is "to represent as one's own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism." 
(How Not to Plagiarize  from the University of Toronto)

Plagiary is a serious form of what is termed "intellectual" theft. Representing another person's ideas as your own, you have, in effect, stolen something of value. If you would not steal my watch (and I hope you wouldn't!) then why would you steal my idea? 

How can a student avoid plagiary? Well, start by imagining its consequences. If a student successfully hides his or her plagiary, that student will be rewarded, unfairly. 

To make my point in the classroom, I often query my students on whether they would like to have surgery from a doctor who had cheated on the final exams. Nobody ever does!

Plagiary is not a victimless crime. These days, honest students see others getting away with stealing ideas and wonder if it is worth following the rules. But as Piggy so eloquently puts it in Lord of the Flies, "the rules are all we've got."

At the PALC, we treat plagiary very seriously. An automatic "0" will result from any cheating. To be sure, plagiary is the exception at the PALC, but it is certainly worth knowing about and avoiding for any serious student, especially those who wish to attend a college or university.

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