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EDITORIAL
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2
 

Plagiarism and academic integrity


People's College of Dental Sciences, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication15-Feb-2014

Correspondence Address:
N D Shashikiran
People's College of Dental Sciences, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0970-4388.126989

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How to cite this article:
Shashikiran N D. Plagiarism and academic integrity . J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2014;32:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Shashikiran N D. Plagiarism and academic integrity . J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent [serial online] 2014 [cited 2017 Dec 11];32:1-2. Available from: http://www.jisppd.com/text.asp?2014/32/1/1/126989


Plagiarism is a complex and evolving concept. The term plagiarism "is the use of others" published and unpublished ideas or words (or other intellectual property) without attribution or permission and presenting them as new and original rather than derived from an existing source".

A common misconception is that consensus exists on what actions constitute plagiarism and whether engaging in plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty is a major breech of ethics. There seems to be little concern for differentiating degrees of seriousness, such that the intentional copying of large amounts of text without any acknowledgment is often viewed and treated the same as failing to properly cite sources. Not all cases of plagiarism are intentional. "Unintentional plagiarism" may arise, when the author has no forethought of cheating. Nevertheless, these cases may be genuinely ignorant, but they offer no protection against the charge of plagiarism.

The current concept of plagiarism is based on a capitalist view of property and ownership. It assumes that everything of value can be owned, bought and sold and that ideas, knowledge and art are created by individuals who have the rights of ownership. The notion that ideas can be owned is tenuous at best.

Traditional definitions of plagiarism are further challenged by the digital revolution. The ways that knowledge is currently created and distributed require that plagiarism be given "close reconsideration as we develop technologies that broaden who may produce and circulate materials." Easy access to massive amounts of information makes policing for ownership of ideas nearly impossible. This situation has caused the current millennial generation to see knowledge ownership, acquisition and distribution in radically different terms than in previous generations. Clearly, academia is past due in reevaluating the concept and how we deal with it in secondary and higher education. The influence of digital technologies, particularly the Internet and social networking media, such as Facebook and Twitter, has resulted in shifts in how these communities are conceived, in the power structure within the communities and in the way knowledge is constructed, shared and evaluated. We are undoubtedly moving toward a more "participatory culture, a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing creations and some type of informal mentorship whereby experienced participants pass along knowledge to novices." Adding to the complexities of plagiarism are the academic standards and expectations imposed on Millennials. Twenty-first-century learning emphasizes creativity, innovation and collaboration; assignments that incorporate these traits often make it difficult to credit the original source. Students are increasingly encouraged to use wikis, blogs and other social platforms that promote collaboration by providing the means for multiple authors to write, edit and revise documents. Several studies name easy access to online material as a catalyst for plagiarism.

In the world of academics, plagiarism takes on moral and ethical dimensions. In what may be a generational issue, students' plagiarism is usually viewed in the most negative sense. Incidents of students engaging in blatant or inadvertent copying of another's words have remained constant for the past 200 years, although the medium with which students plagiarize and the sociocultural expectations for academic integrity have changed. Although plagiarism is clearly an academic issue, the proliferation of digital media with which students interact daily and the growth of the Internet as a source of information have made it a literacy issue as well. Academic plagiarism is rising in India. A lack of oversight and a lack of proper training for scientists have created the rise of plagiarism and research misconduct in India. India does not have a statutory body to deal with scientific misconduct in academics; hence cases of plagiarism are often dealt in ad-hoc fashion with different routes being followed in different cases. This calls for establishment of an independent ethical body. Original ideas are considered as an intellectual property, which are to a certain extent, guarded by copyright laws, just like original work/inventions which are published. As long as the "original idea" is recorded on the piece of paper (like book or an article of a journal) or as a computer file, they are protected by copyright laws, which are not to be stolen; but referred by giving full acknowledgement to the author. With the advancement of technology in today's modern world, there are software available to track down plagiarism or piracy, in the form of text or figures. Making use of these software, we can pass up plagiarism and maintain the authenticity and genuineness of our own work and words, thereby maintaining academic ethics!!

Plagiarism is a now a burning issue in education, industry and even in the research community, in need of reexamination. Intellectual property, a complex idea to begin with, is clearly in need of additional analysis and definition by both students and faculty.

 
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