by Ali Jabber
RAWAPINDI, Mar 4 (APP): Plagiarism is around us since times immorial or in other words is existing for as long as humans have produced work of art and research.
Easy access to web, large data bases and telecommunication has made it a reality more obvious than ever. Key factors leading to plagiarism are unawareness of citing ethics, inadequate writing skills and pressing deadlines to get published.
Plagiarism is the concept of checking intruding matter from other workers’ research or writing. It refers to use of another’s information, language, or writing, when done without proper acknowledgment of the original source. Plagiarism in text documents happens in several forms, i.e., plagiarized text may be copied as such, passages may be modified or they may be translated.
A Consultant Hematologist and Associate Professor of Pathology at Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU) Dr. Nadeem Ikram said Plagiarism can be prevented or detected by plagiarism detection softwares; and educating researchers about ethical writing. Plagiarism can not be dealt with as a simple black and white issue, the prevention of which can be achieved via threats, warnings and admonitions. The notion of ownership of text and learning is becoming complex day by day. It needs to be understood in terms of complex relationships between text, memory, and learning borrowing, he added.
Dr. Nadeem said the modern era of competition and latest developments have made the students to build up new ideas to survive this competition they unintentionally falling a prey to plagiarism. The border line between plagiarism and research is surprisingly murky. Advanced research is only possible by “standing on the shoulders of others’. In most of the disciplines the work or problem under discussion or dissection is authenticated by words of others. To make the truth more plausible it is human instinct to add flavor, fervour and fanfare, but here lies the trap. Even the creative masters have conflicting views.
According to Charles Dickens take nothing on its looks, take everything on evidence; there is no better rule. But how someone can ignore Albert Einstein who opines that “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”. Goethe once said, “Everything clever had already been thought, one must only try to think it again”. According to Benjamin Disraeli, “Plagiarist, at least have the merit of preservation.”
Research work in any form has a basic frame work of introduction of subject with review of literature, methods employed, results obtained, discussion, conclusions deducted and the references. Review of literature and discussion are the main vulnerable areas destined to face the fierce attack of plagiarism software. These two areas have many wrinkles to be ironed, where definitely plagiarism is likely to go through in a bulldozing manner. Here, obviously, the researcher depends on and explores other people’s work to introduce the subject, to strengthen his work and then to compare his work. So the maximum causality is also here.
A fundamental question is then how to measure similarity or the amount of shared information between two sequences. Whilst many regard plagiarism as malpractice, others view it as poor practice. It can be dismissed as a slip in scholarship or a question of etiquette, as a lapser rather than crime as or a disease of in articulation. Some suggested that plagiarism should not always be considered to be synonymous with cheating .There have been many articles that seek to identify the extent of plagiarism and understand why students become plagiarist. Internet based information seems to be in ‘public domain’, yet not mentioning the source while using it in the text seems implausible.
Plagiarism is of major concern at university level. Move from examination to course work and project based assessment has resulted not just in over-assessment but also in students being under constant pressure to attain high marks. When English is student’s second language, student is placed under pressure by the increased amount it takes for him or her to write. Some may have a feeling that they cannot improve on what is already written and prefer to use and quote the time tested wisdom, which is a two edged sword, at one end strengthening their work , while on the other end likely to be caught and plagiarized. Why the researchers are asked to compare critique and strengthen their work with other people’s work? Lack of experience of essay writing can also be a factor. There is a need to explore and define the ways that how students can become independent writers. At students’ level, the easy availability of technology tempts them to copy, cut and paste those assignments available on net. This is the main area where plagiarism checking is an issue worldwide.
The check up is intended to search for borrowed words, ignoring the intention behind, which may not be as worse as is taken for. The situation is well envisioned by Benjamin Franklin that, “why should I give my readers bad lines of my own when good ones of other people are so plenty”. Although it is required to leave a space open to criticize unacceptable borrowing practice, unilateral accusations of plagiarism are inadequate. Many ways in which plagiarism is approached seem to be unsound intellectually. More quoted someone’s work is more citation claimed for, more impact factor is likely to attain.
There are varying scales of plagiarism index ranging from 10% to 30%. However, great precaution should be observed by the clients as different plagiarism detection programmes may provide conflicting reports due to varying depths of analysis data-bases explored. How much copied text is enough to trigger a ‘plagiarism alert’ , somewhere along a spectrum from the un-attributed use of a few words of a single sentence , through to whole sale copying of articles or sources? How important is intentionality, because theft is a conscious act whereas plagiarism can be accidental (reflecting, for example, a lack of understanding or appreciation of proper ways of citing sources)
In contrast to intentional and self plagiarism, a breathing space is required for unintentional plagiarism, where vastness of available information influences thoughts and the same ideas may come out via a spoken or written expression as one’s own. Plagiarism, to a defined percentage, can intervene in the test. If some one’s work is original, then during writing manuscript so many confounding factors compel the researcher to peep around. If the originality of work done is authenticated then hopefully it will pass through all the litmus tests, including plagiarism checking.
Reportedly, plagiarism detection software is available in Pakistan, and, with warning from the relevant quarters that action can be taken against the false accusers.