Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Why big fuss?

The other day one of my nieces told me that ‘plagiarism’ is rampant these days even in newspaper articles; let’s not count the school, college or university assignments. She also shared an incident with me that how a girl published an article in a renowned English daily by lifting the content from two different sources. As soon as this was identified, the poor writer got blacklisted by the newspaper. How pathetic!

As we know that we, the ordinary people, find all sorts of information that we need in this world, they do not appear in our mind just from nowhere. We see something, read something or hear something which triggers us, “Ah…ha…,” and helps us generate ideas to create something completely new. Not only this, some people’s ideas, thoughts or opinions attract us so much that we want to include them in our write ups using one way or the other. This is not a crime. People are doing that in a way which is acceptable. Remember there is nothing new under the sun but how you present the topic is important.

However, if you imitate others’ work and proudly use it under your name it is a serious crime. What you have to do is to simply acknowledge the person whose words you are citing. If you are careful to take this little action you become an ‘intellectual,’ who is aware of what other people are doing and how you are utilising their work. In contrast, if you just copy and paste others’ materials without bothering to mention them, then you are a ‘plagiarist’ who clearly deserves to be punished like the girl mentioned above.

You may argue, for example, ‘Oh, well, I like to use the complete article of so and so, what can I do except for lifting the text and write my name as a writer?’ Never think of doing that blunder again! There is a better solution. In that case, you can paraphrase the text and explain why the given content is important to you or what are the aspects that you agree/disagree with the original writer and why. See, this way you can become a scholar.

Believe me, you do not need to accept my words blindly, do your own experiment and find out the truth yourself. Collect some articles written by the famous writers. Then read them closely how they develop and justify their arguments skilfully playing around other people’s ideas, but with acknowledgements. Of course this is not ‘plagiarism’ but informed research.

So, there is a very thin line between a ‘plagiarist’ and an ‘intellectual.’ It is just a matter of your choice what you want to be. Without creating any fuss you can use other people’s work. For that, you merely need to follow some conscious procedures. I do not think it is a big deal. What do you think? By the way, how do you proceed next time if you are tempted to use other writers’ work? Well, this is entirely up to you because you are the ‘writer’ and you choose your content.

{The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.] 

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I would appreciate any and all suggestions on making improvements (as long as they are viable).