In simple terms, plagiarism is the act of taking someone else’s work or idea, and passing them off as your original work. Plagiarism is intellectual theft, cheating, and academic dishonesty.
Plagiarism is a serious issue in academia. As a criminal justice major we learn the difference and consequences associated between a misdemeanor or felony crime. In academia, consider plagiarism an academic felony. Plagiarism violations will carry consequences if you make a poor decision to violate the college or university plagiarism policy. You could fail the assignment, fail the class, or even get suspended or expelled from college.
The first things students need to do is read the institutions plagiarism policy. If you are unclear on any area of the policy contact your class professor for clarification. The college plagiarism policy is found in the student handbook and often policies are included in the class syllabus. Online classes will have links to the student handbook or institution policies. Each school is different and it is the student’s responsibility to adhere to institution policies, classroom rules, and writing expectations. Playing ignorant on not understanding the plagiarism policy is not a defense for academic dishonesty.
Strategies to Avoid Plagiarism
Use good time management skills. Never back yourself into a corner with due date times. Allow yourself enough time to conduct a literature search for acceptable peer-reviewed journal articles, create an outline, and edit your work. Make sure your final draft is something you are proud of accomplishing. Waiting to the last-minute is not putting in your best effort. You become a passenger in your own learning rather than a self-directed learner who takes responsibility for your own educational journey.
Avoiding the over use of quotes in your work. Learn to paraphrase scholarly literature in your own voice. Always give credit to the sources that inspired your thoughts on the topic by including in-text citations and adding the source to the reference list.
Use the Internet to help you find key words on your topic. Then go back to your institutions library and use they keywords in the search engine for the academic database which contain peer-reviewed journal articles. The sources of your information must come from acceptable and credible places such as the institutions library and academic databases.
Avoid using your own prior work in a class, unless you have the permission of your class professor. You can commit self-plagiarism if you use already submitted work in another class and use it in your current class. If you are allowed to build upon your prior work, you still want to give credit to yourself as an unpublished manuscript to avoid any issues of plagiarism.
Do not be tempted to use a “paper mill” to buy a paper you did not write and pass it off as your original work. This is a sure way to escalate the consequences associated with plagiarism violations. Do not use a friend’s paper who has already taken the class. If you do and get caught, both of you will be facing institution plagiarism violations.
Ask your class professor to discuss plagiarism avoidance strategies in your class. Knowledge is power and openly discussing ways to ensure original ethical writing is the goal for all criminal justice assignments. Share with your learning partners to help them avoid intuition policy violations.
Plagiarism Detection Software
There are many different plagiarism detection software’s in use in higher education. Most check for originality of the submitted work and it is up to your college professor to determine if your work was in fact plagiarized.
Learn how to best use the software that your institution has adopted to help with original writing. Be proactive and ask questions and get answers.
Plagiarism Violations Can Follow You Beyond the Classroom
Many criminal justice students will go on to work within the criminal justice system upon completion of studies. Almost every position will require a background investigation for suitability. As part of the background process you will sign a release of all your personal information requested by the background investigative unit. This includes all your school records from your college studies. Your waiver to private personal information gives the background investigator access to your school records, and to your college professors if they feel they need clarification or designated as a reference.
One of the first things that a background investigator looks for in your school records is incidents of disciplinary or policy violations in your official school records.
I was recently told by a law enforcement background investigator who was conducting a background check on one of my former learning partners that his agency will pass on any candidate who has an incident of plagiarism in their official school records. The detective stated that integrity and character is critical component for any member to join the agency. He further stated, that if a defense attorney knew of an officers past issues with plagiarism, they could be discredited on the witness stand. The detective closed by saying his agency is not willing to take that chance when there are plenty of candidates who do not have integrity and ethical character flaws such as a plagiarism violation while in college.
Everyone in academia is held to the high ethical writing standards of producing original work.
About the Author
Mark Bond has worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms instructor for more than 33 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in criminal justice, and M.Ed in educational leadership with Summa Cum Laude honors. Mark has a doctoral degree in education (EdD) with a concentration in college teaching and learning. Mark is currently an associate professor of criminal justice at a university and adjunct professor of administration of justice studies at a community college.