Academic Writing

Reasons for plagiarism

Plagiarism can happen for many reasons.

  1. Deliberate plagiarism.

This is when you make the decision to steal someone else's work. For example, this could be either:

    1. because you do not have the time  to do the work yourself;
    2. because you do not have the energy to do the work yourself;
    3. because you think your lecturer will not notice;
    4. because you think your lecturer will not care;
    5. or, perhaps, because you are not able to do the work yourself.

It can involve:

    1. copying another student's work;
    2. copying another person's work from a book or a journal;
    3. copying another person's work from a web-site;
    4. asking another person to do the work for you;
    5. downloading the complete text from the Internet;
    6. buying the text from the Internet;
    7. or even paying for someone to do the work for you.

In all cases, if you do not do the work yourself, you are unlikely to learn from it. It is therefore not useful and a waste of your time. Do not do this. There are many ways your lecturer can check whether or not you have plagiarised. It is not worth the risk.

  1. Accidental plagiarism.

This is when you accidentally, through carelessness or lack of skill, use another person's words without acknowledging it. This can happen for several reasons:

    1. you do not know that you must not copy a person's words directly;
    2. you do not have the skill for expressing another person's ideas in your own words;
    3. you do not know the correct systems for indicating that you are using another person's words or ideas;
    4. when you take notes from a book or journal, you copy out some sections and do not make this clear in your notes. Later when you re-read the notes, you forget that they are not your words or ideas;
    5. you forget to acknowledge another person's words or ideas;
    6. you do not have time to include the acknowledgments and list of references;
    7. you feel your written work is not good enough;
    8. you borrow your friend's notes, not realising that some of the words are plagiarised.