Plagiarism is never acceptable -- certainly not in academia
Plagiarism. Most people in our country are not familiar with this term.
However, that doesn’t hinder them from committing this academic crime either intentionally or unintentionally.
Lack of sufficient knowledge about this wrongdoing and ignorance of its consequences are the main reasons why plagiarism has become a common phenomenon in Bangladesh.
What is plagiarism? In simple words, plagiarism is copying another person’s ideas, words, or thoughts, and not giving them due credit.
In some countries, committing plagiarism can result in being expelled, fined, or jailed whereas in our country, it mostly goes unnoticed.
What we need to understand is that plagiarism is an extremely important issue, and at least rudiments of it should be taught in schools.
But most of our schools and even colleges are blissfully indifferent towards it, and the seriously appalling thing is that plagiarism is being encouraged. One might ask: How?
Students who have to write paragraphs, essays, and even letters and applications in their examinations almost always select one of the three sources -- books, sheets from coaching centres, private tutors, and the internet.
They memorize from these like parrots and regurgitate in their exam scripts.
Even if, by chance, students try to show their creativity and write from their imaginations, most of the time, it is seen that they do not get as high marks as those who copy verbatim from various sources.
It isn’t until students get admitted to universities that they are made acquainted with plagiarism. But isn’t it too late then? Hasn’t their creative faculty remained unused a little too long?
This is the reason students struggle in their initial years of university education to produce quality writing and meet the expectations of their professors.
Now what happens in our country if someone commits plagiarism even after they have been introduced to it in their universities?
Do they always get punished, or do their crimes go mostly unnoticed?
Unless they are submitting a thesis or a term paper, most of the time their work does not go under scrutiny through plagiarism checking software.
Yes, it must be admitted that in the university level, plagiarism is less rampant than in schools and colleges.
But can we be at peace knowing that it is not totally absent?
One may, however, think, how can the act of copying be such a serious crime?
After all, it isn’t harming someone else in any way. But think like this, would anyone be OK with a thief breaking into his home and stealing his belongings?
Plagiarism is just like that. It is akin to stealing or thieving, which is totally unacceptable in a civil society.
It is true that in Bangladesh, plagiarism is an issue that mostly remains unaddressed. But this is no excuse.
Therefore, this problem needs our acknowledgement, and immediate tackling. It should be realized that the foundation of our education is established in schools.
If students do not understand that plagiarism is an unethical and criminal act in schools, then when?
They should be thoroughly familiarized with plagiarism and how to avoid it at the school level.
In addition, plagiarism checking software should be installed at every educational institution to ensure this unethical practice doesn’t go overlooked, and is prevented as much as possible.
Nazia Pervin Shefa is studying at the Department of English, University of Dhaka.