Effects of Plagiarism on Education

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Plagiarism may cause students to fail classes and be expelled from school, but the consequences of using someone else's work without proper attribution often run much deeper than that. Rampant cases of plagiarism can damage the reputation of not only students, but also colleges, as well as negatively affect the credibility and integrity of published academic research. Knowing the broader ramifications of plagiarism in the academic world can help students become more aware of how their actions hurt themselves and their university community.

1 Plagiarism Prevents Learning

Submitting someone else's work may be the easy way out of an assignment, but students who choose to plagiarize deprive themselves of learning important tasks and concepts. As a result, they move forward in their education and career without mastering skills like research, citing sources and structuring an essay. While they may temporarily get away with plagiarism, their lack of essential writing and communication skills most likely cost them grades, opportunities and careers at some point in the future. Relying on other people's work also keeps students from crafting their own voices as writers and developing them throughout their educational careers.

2 Plagiarism Hurts Universities

Plagiarism can also be a huge blow to a college's integrity. Frequent academic dishonesty occurrences can devalue a degree earned from an institution, which may prevent graduates from being hired for jobs and internships or accepted to graduate programs. In 2012, for example, The Crimson reported that 279 students at Harvard were found to have cheated on a take-home test when they had been instructed not to work together; in 2005, an engineering alumnus found that at least 55 master's theses from Ohio University's graduate engineering program were plagiarized. Widespread cases of plagiarism like these can make it difficult for universities to rebuild their reputations.

3 It Decreases the Credibility of Research

While plagiarism most often refers to using someone else's writing without proper acknowledgment, failure to accurately cite sources can also create major problems for credibility and accuracy in research fields. An abundance of plagiarized content in papers can pollute the authenticity of research results, causing bad information to infiltrate published studies and lead to inaccurate conclusions, states Harvard psychology lecturer Dr. Shelley H. Carson. This can seriously damage not only the authors' reputations, but also the direction of different trends of research and entire fields of study.

4 It Creates a Distrustful Environment

Strong student-instructor relationships are crucial to a positive learning environment, but plagiarism can take an atmosphere of trust and respect and transform it into something cynical and negative. The discovery of plagiarism in essays can negatively affect an instructor's view of a student and inhibit her enthusiasm for teaching, states the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Ad Hoc Committee on Student Plagiarism. Similarly, academic dishonesty can cause bitterness among students. Students who are actually doing the assignments may be negatively affected by a classmate's known plagiarism.

Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.