Why is Plagiarism a Violation of Ethics?

One question pops up whenever you come across a plagiarized content: why is plagiarism a violation of ethics. Well, this post seeks to explore the answer.

First, let’s address the obvious questions.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism may take many forms, including deliberate cheating or accidentally copying from a source without acknowledgement. Why is plagiarism a violation of ethics, even though the majority of times it is not illegal?

When you plagiarize, you are attempting to claim for someone’s ideas for your own. This can be outright or blatant like incorporation of the actual text into your work. It can also be unintentional, such as incorrectly citing a work.

But even when it is unintentional, it is considered a violation of ethics. This is because academic work is based on certain principles. The act of plagiarism is contrary to the foundation of academic research.

Before we get into this, let us discuss what ethics are.

What are Ethics?

The Oxford Dictionary defines ethics as “a set of moral principles. These are especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.”

Therefore, ethics does not concern the law. In fact, the law has to do much more with what you call misconduct. Misconduct is when you do something wrong and that is a conscious choice.

Going back to the definition, it is safe to say that academics is a specialized field. Which means it has its own ethics.

One of the core ethical tenets of academia is that work should be based on original research. Plagiarized work is not.

Plagiarism is the copying of another’s writing for any reason without proper attribution. Based on what we’ve said above, this is a huge ethical problem. It is liable to put you in hot water at any point of your career.

Plagiarism means that you have taken someone else’s work without applying the principal of fair use. As a result, you passed it off as your own without crediting the original author for their ideas.

two people shaking hands
Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Why People Consider Plagiarism a Violation of Ethics

Imagine you are a professor at a university. You are grading papers, and you see one of your students has some profound ideas on the topic. These ideas could be new contributions to the field.

You begin to get excited. However, it is only on checking, you realize the student copied all of these “new” ideas.

Imagine if this student had gotten published. What if others cited their work ? Everyone’s work down the line would have been tainted by the original plagiarism.

There would be embarrassment, possibly professional censure. In some people’s case, it wouldn’t even be their fault. They thought they were quoting a reliable source.

Plagiarism erodes trust. This is one of the main reasons it’s considered a violation of ethics. It erodes trust in the quality of knowledge produced. This can be dangerous to society.

To Wrap Up

Why is plagiarism a violation of ethics? It is considered unethical because plagiarism means taking someone’s work without crediting them.

This has serious consequences because it undermines the notion of academic research as original. It can also put reputations in jeopardy.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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