The P Word: What’s the Big Deal about Plagiarism?

Written by Rachael Curtis in Academic, Latest, Opinion on March 1, 2019

There is a word often spoken around Alexander College.  This word is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. When it is used, furrowed brows and perplexed expressions show on the faces of the listeners. Even students who have been around for more than one semester can feel confused by the constant emphasis and importance placed upon just one little word: the P word, better known as Plagiarism.

Why is Plagiarism such a Big Deal? 

Let’s check out the scenario below first:

Chloe is a very talented jewelry designer.  She makes beautiful necklaces, rings, and bracelets using her own creative designs.  Chloe spends hours creating and making these exquisite and unique pieces.  She is proud of her work, and she showcases her talent online and at local shops, and she is extremely successful.

Sam is an art student at a local art institute.  Her focus is in jewelry design.  She is struggling to come up with originality and quality work.  Her instructor has given her feedback that she must work hard to come up with a great piece of work for her final project in the course.  Sam does not feel confident that she can create something good enough to ensure the high mark she needs.  She is stressed and worried.

Sam recently went to an art show.  A necklace had caught her eye that was created by a local artist named Chloe.  She bought the necklace at that time.  As Sam begins to prepare for her final project, her eye catches the necklace on her bedside table.  She thinks, “That is a really interesting piece.  Maybe, I can just copy that design and make my life easier.”  So, Sam begins making the necklace, basing all of the design on Chloe’s work.  She submits her project to the instructor and in return she gets an A.

What is the Issue with Plagiarism?

All is well that ends well right?  What’s the problem? To answer the question, let us thoughtfully process the following:

  1. Was it acceptable for Sam to use Chloe’s design and idea for her art project?
  2. Did Sam think of the design herself?
  3. Did she present her own original design in the project?

No, she did not.

You see, the heart of the issue here is that Sam is cheating.

It is cheating because she was trying to gain an advantage unfairlyHer action is unfair to other students who worked hard to produce their own designs with their own ideas and creativity. More to the point, she stole from another person. I am sure we can all agree that taking something that does not belong to you is wrong.  On top of that Sam lied.  She lied to her instructor by submitting something which was not actually hers.

She was basically saying, “This is my work.”

But indeed, it was not.

Keep Your Integrity as a Student

At all educational institutions all over Canada, students find themselves suffering the consequences of plagiarism, from having to re-do assignments, to getting a zero, to getting kicked out.  To be fair, some may do it unintentionally due to a lack of understanding.  Instructors can be quite forgiving in this case.

However, there are some who copy information from a source intentionally.  There are those who are worried about passing, and there are those who just do not have level appropriate language skills, so they copy.

Additionally, there are those who do it out of laziness, to be sure.  No matter the reason for plagiarizing, it IS indeed a big deal.

Just as most people would acknowledge that stealing someone’s possession is a wrong behavior, it is also wrong to steal someone’s idea and present it as your very own.  If you agree that the action of someone stealing your laptop is wrong, then you must see that stealing another person’s words or ideas is also unethical.

Therefore, the next time you hear your instructor use the P word in class, pay close attention.  Learn how to avoid plagiarism, so that you can avoid the horrible consequences.

More importantly, avoid plagiarism so that you can be a person of integrity and honor.

After all, your reputation and integrity can follow you throughout your entire life.

Keep that integrity intact as a student by learning how to use research and sources correctly.  Alexander College is here to help.

If you have any confusion regarding plagiarism make an appointment at the Writing and Learning Centre today!



Rachael Curtis has been a teacher for 16 years and EAP instructor at AC for 9 years.  Rachael is an empathetic instructor who tries to understand her students and support them as best she can.  Rachael has witnessed students’ frustrations and confusion with plagiarism and understands why students feel this way.  She hopes that students can understand plagiarism better and get the help they need to avoid getting into trouble.  It can be confusing and there are so many details to pay attention to when citing and preparing references, but Rachael believes that if she could figure it out in university, her students can too.

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