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Plagiarism: Types, Causes and Effects


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Plagiarism is ideological theft. When a person takes and idea that is not their own and represents it for credit. This is a false representation of oneself by using work or an idea that is not original or stolen from another person. “Furthermore different constituencies have different meaning for the history of plagiarism. We might helpfully regard it as a triple entity or triangle. At one point of the triangle is cheating involving written works, the second inadvertent a failure to master conventions and the third are professionals who another work without permission for their own benefit.”[1] This is just taking advantage of other people’s creativity without acknowledging them. Plagiarism represents truth without representing the source of the truth so ultimately it becomes its truth from the wrong person. When plagiarism is done without intention, knowledge or as a mistake then it’s called miss-use of sources. The great controversy on plagiarism is drawing the thin line between the deliberate and mistake and who takes responsibility between the teacher and the student.

Plagiarism has been there as long as man existed and there was art and creativity but the realization of the vice and its consequences could have come with the printing press and academic advancement. In the early years of human existence philosophy, music and poetry were the ideologies and their practice as a sign of civilization and social advancement. The mode of education was informal and there was not based on research and writing and though plagiarism was practiced there is no data on who and when it started. In the definition and practice plagiarism was practiced as long as man lived. As people put their ideas and creativity in writing, distribution, business and credit then plagiarism became a parallel business. The publishing and printing companies and the authors had to protect themselves from theft and so the copy right protection laws. The twentieth century has come with innovation, scientific discoveries and research and plagiarism has risen as a competing factor. There is need to protect individual work and publishers from those who plagiarize to avoid the gains achieved so far and chaos and confusion.

The world has turned to capitalism and competition for resources and fame. Plagiarism has become more alive in this century and it’s a moral and legal matter that is challenging every society. The academic world has been transformed to research and analysis and students excel only after writing essays, papers, thesis and publication making plagiarism a great threat. The new form of plagiarism is not for economic and popularity gain but for academic success and it a vice in all learning institutions. There has been so many ideas presented in all academic fields and with technological advancement plagiarism is easy and appealing today than before. There is no limit to the destruction that plagiarism has done economically, politically, socially, emotionally and often leads to enemity, wars and legal disputes. Today in music and art industry plagiarism is a quick fix to fame and riches. Time as a resource today is more precious than ever and people are willing to take shortcuts and achieve goals within a short time. There is a lot involved in research, organization and tests in order to present work that is credit worthy in all fields of life so there is a trend to take shortcuts. Today there is unwritten policy of publish or perish in universities and so lecturers are likely to redo an old idea thus self -plagiarism. The internet has come of age and information is available all over the web for all disciplines and this is enticing to those who want to plagiarize. There is a demand for innovation, art, music, news and economic benefits are too good attracting the real and fake at the same time.

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Types of Plagiarism

Plagiarism can either be intentional or accidental but the form and modes it takes vary a lot based on the situation. There is concern about academic plagiarism but there is a wide range from the unknown to the known , the written and the spoken and just like theft its trends and forms has no limits. The common one in research are taking some presented idea from a pool of knowledge and presenting it for credit. When one recycles and old concept or idea its self- plagiarism and the copy paste computer technology is a monster that propagates plagiarism. There is a pool of knowledge in all fields and research is ongoing in all parts of the world so plagiarism can arise unknowingly when there is agreement on the same concept and ideology. ” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”[2] This is spiritual plagiarism as people assume the position of Paul and Jesus.

Percentage of College Students Admitting to Selected Cheating Behaviors, 1963 and 1993[3]

Tests/Examinations 1963 1993

Copied from another student 26% 52%

Helped another student cheat 23% 37%

Used crib notes 16 % 27%

Written Work

Copied material without footnoting 49% 54%

Plagiarized 30% 26%

Falsified a bibliography 38% 29%

Turned in work done by another 29% 14%

Collaborated on assignments requiring individual work 11% 49%

The use of plagiarism has been on the rise just and taking new modes. This research data information show that the percentages have almost doubled in the thirty years. This trend means that in the next century plagiarism will be at level institutions and schools will find overwhelming. There is a great danger for academic and research advancement from plagiarism and there is a wake -up call.

The reason for this paper

This paper is to demonstrate that I have a clear knowledge of plagiarism and Calvin Theological Seminary rule on plagiarism. I posted this in my paper as a case study and after using the name of the person publishing this information I assumed this is not taking credit or plagiarism. I pledge i will not plagiarize again and action will be taken against me in future as per Calvin Theological Seminary statutes on plagiarism.

Max Brewer in his 1907 book Der Deutsche Christus (The German Christ)

“During the First and Second World Wars, German Protestant leaders used the writings of Luther to support the cause of German nationalism On the 450th anniversary of Luther’s birth, which fell only a few months after the Nazi Party began its seizure of power in 1933, celebrations were conducted on a large scale by both the Protestant Churches and the Nazi Party. .At a celebration in Königsberg, Erich Koch, at that time the Gauleiter of East Prussia, made a speech in which he, among other things, compared Adolf Hitler with Martin Luther and claimed that the Nazis fought with Luther’s spirit. Such a speech might be dismissed as mere propaganda, but, as Steigmann-Gall points out: “Contemporaries regarded Koch as a bona fide Christian who had attained his position [as the elected president of a provincial Church synod] through a genuine commitment to Protestantism and its institutions.” Even so, Steigmann-Gall states that the Nazis were not a Christian movement.

The prominent Protestant theologian Karl Barth, in1939 stated that the writings of Martin Luther were used by the Nazis to glorify both the State and state absolutism: “The German people suffer under his error of the relationship between the law and the bible, between secular and spiritual power”, in which Luther divided the temporal State from the inward state, focusing instead on spiritual matters, thus limiting the ability of the individual or the church to question the actions of the State, which was seen as a God-ordained instrument”.

Effects of plagiarism

Plagiarism affects the individual and the society and the effects can be long lasting and devastating. The person involved will lose trustworthy, moral, academic and social standing. This becomes worse when the person is taken to court or loose license of practice and financial loses. Those in the schools are expelled and many years of study and research go to waste. Plagiarism affects just like theft can be too cruel with years of suffering and regret. In the world today there are people that have lost positions of power and authority and careers destroyed. In the society plagiarism can result to financial loses and as companies and jobs are affected, court cases and warring parties, and threatening social standing.

Reasons for plagiarism

“Ignorance and carelessness is the major sources of plagiarism. Ignorance and carelessness are also the major sources of the excuse from students who are caught plagiarizing. Even in cases where there are established writers, politicians, and academics have been caught plagiarizing the most common reason is confusion in my notes.”[4] There is always a reason behind every action good or bad and so people have different reasons to justify plagiarism. The world living in the era of quick fix and people have no time to invest in hard work as time becomes the most valuable resource. A majority of the plagiarism is intentional and by people that are well vast in their fields of knowledge but have little time to carry out a research. The financial and positional gain is attractive and is it’s good luck adventure that usually goes bad and becomes destructive. There is all information in the Web about anything and this makes plagiarism the easy and quick path to take. The economic trends today have forced people to do extra work , juggle between multiple careers , become student workers and so there is little time to invest in school and learning hence plagiarism is a solution. Self-plagiarism is one that can be done unaware after years of publishing and at times its miss-understanding and mistakes of not doing a citation. When people do research and writing they do it without fore knowledge of other people involved in the same work so plagiarism out of ignorance may not justify judgement and condemnation. There is a blame and counter by teachers and students but the bottom line is plagiarism is plagiarism. Today learning is intensive and cumbersome and most students had find it hard to match the pace and hence plagiarism.


“Although we are teaching academic writing we cannot discount the cultural context. It invigorates the writing because is connected to the writer’s identity informing the writer’s voice -and yes it can be incorporated in to academic writing. Free writing should allow cultural context to serve as the true and comfortable setting in which second language students could get started in the process of writing a personal essay or research paper.” [5] When people do research and writing they do it in their character and nature and the work cannot be separate from themselves. All people live and work in communities that influence their thinking and actions and so when writing in their true self their work will be more original. When writing from second language and culture, under strict guidelines and limits and the objective of teaching and learning is defeated by just fulfilling the purpose. There is a reason to demystify plagiarism by teaching students those engaging in research and writing about it, and the basic academic law of education is character. There is need for continuous and genuine conversation by all institutions on the standards, punishment, and modes of plagiarism as new method and techniques evolve with technological advancement. Schools and universities need to engage parents and guardians since plagiarism is vice that is academic and moral. The question of self-plagiarism and miss-use of resources, or a typology and its punishment will be there today and as long as there is writing and research. The new trends in plagiarism and its rise is a challenge to all institutions of learning and there is need to teach plagiarism and good academic morals as a mission.


  1. Blum, Susan D. My Word ! ,New York :Cornell University Press, 2009.
  2. Lathrop, Ann, and Kathleen Foss. Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era: A Wake-Up Call: A Wake-Up Call. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 2000. .eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed March 9, 2017).
  3. Harris, Robert A. The Plagiarism, Handbook Los Angela’s: Pyrczack publishing, 2001.
  4. Desena, Laura H. Preventing Plagiarism, Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2007

[1] Blum, Susan D. My Word ! New York (Cornell University Press, 2009)12-13

[2] Acts 19: 14-16 (ESV)

[3] Lathrop, Ann, and Kathleen Foss. Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era: A Wake-Up Call: A Wake-Up Call. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 2000. .eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed March 9, 2017).

[4] Harris, Robert A. The Plagiarism Handbook ( Los Angela’s: Pyrczack publishing, 2001) ,23

[5] Desena, Laura H. Preventing Plagiarism (Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2007 ),105.

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