“My use of Twitter started a broad cultural discussion that needs to be had about plagiarism in the digital age,” said Shia LaBeouf in the wake of recent accusations that a character from his short film was plagiarized from a Daniel Clowes comic.
LaBeouf’s case has shed new light on the issue of plagiarism and its serious consequences.
The internet provides nearly unlimited access to information giving people the ability to copy and plagiarize more than ever before. On the other hand, plagiarism has become more risky because of new copy-catching softwares and other tools available to professors and professionals. Students can no longer get away with copying and pasting sections from websites without being caught.
Copying is seen as an easy way out and a way to avoid doing work but the skill required to cheat well is often equal to just doing the work in the first place. The consequences of plagiarism at ACU range from failure to expulsion.
ACU has a lengthy academic integrity clause designed to spell out for students what exactly counts as plagiarism, but the issue can still be confusing. The university offers an online guide for avoiding academic plagiarism. The responsibility for original ideas ultimately rests with the student. Accidental plagiarism is still punishable.
The reason plagiarism is such a big deal is because one of the main goals of education is to produce students capable of creating original ideas. ACU is designed to provide a safe environment to experiment, learn and fail. This may require absorbing ideas from great minds but this should only be the starting point.
ACU students should avoid plagiarism not only because of its immorality but because they have too much at stake to risk the consequences of being labeled a plagiarist. Research is encouraged at the collegiate level and citing sources is an easy way to ensure you do not take credit for work that is not your own.
Most of us will not be able to get away with plagiarism by labeling it “performance art” and claiming to be raising awareness about the importance of original ideas. Shia LaBeouf’s reputation was damaged, but you could be expelled or fired.
The best policy for avoiding plagiarism is to be mentally engaged. Think, do the work and then proudly take credit for it.