Practicing plagiarism means taking someone else’s work as one’s own. It is a widely condemned practice because it disregards credit where it is due. In most cases, those who commit plagiarism are punished in various ways, including discontinuing them from studying at a particular institution and sometimes by fines. However, this paper argues that not all cases of plagiarism should attract punishments because some are unintentional.
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The first case that should not be punished is when one wrongly rearranges words or paraphrases a paragraph badly. It is evident that using one’s ideas or opinions without quoting the author is plagiarism (“Jackson State community college,” n.d.). Under the circumstance that someone paraphrases or rearranges the words, they are supposed to cite the author. However, out of the experience, I can attest that many people do not know that even though paraphrasing has been done, the source has to be cited. For example, I once paraphrased a paragraph from a book without citing the source, and I thought I was good to go. However, I did not know that that was plagiarism. It should not be punishable in such a case because it is unintentional. Besides, one could wrongly paraphrase a paragraph such that it shows some plagiarism, but the person did not intend to do it. This is most common to us students because sometimes we have a lot of assignments, and hence, one could easily paragraph wrongly. Thus, such kind of plagiarism should not be punished.
The second scenario is when the quotation marks are incorrectly used (“Library guides,” 2022). For example, I could paraphrase a sentence but place the quotation marks in the wrong start or end. For instance, instead of writing, “cheating is bad,” I write, cheating is bad.” In that example, the opening quotation mark is not placed, which does not justify the citation of the sentence. This means that plagiarism will be detected. However, the writer did not intend to plagiarize because they missed a quotation mark. In that case, plagiarism should not be punishable because it is unintentional.
The third case is leaving out some information from the bibliography or in-text citations (“Library guides,” 2022). For example, a student could be in a hurry to submit an assignment, and instead of citing ‘Roberts, 2020,’ they cite ‘Roberts 2021’ or just ‘Roberts.’ Such a mistake could also be termed plagiarism. However, the student did not intend to miss the year or write it incorrectly. This has happened to me while doing an assignment in college. I was supposed to cite a source in 2008, but I missed it and cited it with 2009. My professor called me, and he asked me why I intentionally made a bogus citation. I was confident that I had not faked any citation, so I told him I referenced it right. The professor then showed me the source I referenced and said it was actually the opposite of what I had written. He thought I faked it because the authors’ names were the same, same topic but opposing each other, but different years. I was confused before I knew that I had miswritten the year of publication. In such a case, plagiarism should not be punishable because it is not intentional.
To sum up, while plagiarism is punishable, not all cases of plagiarism should attract punishments. Scenarios such as paraphrasing wrongly, using quotation marks incorrectly, or missing some information should be rendered accidental. Nevertheless, ignorance should never be taken as a defense to practice plagiarism. For it to be termed as accidental, one should be able to justify that they did it unintentionally.
Jackson State community college. (n.d.). Jackson State Community College | Jackson State Community College. https://www.jscc.edu/academics/programs/writing-center/plagiarism/intentional-plagiarism.html#:~:text=The%20following%20are%20examples%20of%20intentional%20plagiarism%3A%201,was%20previously%20used%206%20making%20up%20bogus%20citations Library guides. (2022, January 18). Library Guides at Charleston Southern University. https://libraryguides.csuniv.edu/c.php?g=491156&p=3404457#:~:text=Intentional%20and%20Unintentional%20Plagiarism%20%20%20Intentional%20,quotation%20marks%20co