To copy or not to copy

Lexie Schramm, Opinion Writer

There has always been a debate over the severity of plagiarism. How serious a case of plagiarism is taken depends on both the people involved and the work that is being plagiarised. However, in some situations, plagiarism may not actually be considered plagiarism, and this can be a problem.


At Desert Vista and throughout the Tempe Union High School District, there is a zero-tolerance policy for any type of cheating – including plagiarism, which is defined as copying someone else’s work without giving proper credit to the original source. This policy ensures that any student who copies someone else’s essay, article, or any other piece of writing will receive repercussions for their actions. It means that students are less likely to plagiarise due to these consequences.  


In addition to this policy, the use of the website “Turnitin” gives an almost guaranteed and very easy method of catching any form of plagiarism. The Turnitin system goes through hundreds of works and gives a similarity percentage. If the percentage is over a certain number, teachers can further check the paper for plagiarism. Students are then much less likely to do any sort of copying, because if they do, they’ll be caught.


However, for smaller assignments, the plagiarism is enforced much less. Although not always caught, there are always students who share worksheet and nightly homework answers with one another. Of course, due to its general insignificance compared to a five paragraph essay, the consequences for these sort of situations don’t need to be quite as severe.


But on the other hand, allowing students to continuously copy someone else’s answers can become a real issue. It can become a habit that evolves into something more serious – maybe even leading to plagiarising on something more serious like a paper. It should be emphasized that copying anything someone else writes or creates is a serious thing, even if it is on something minor.
All in all, while the current plagiarism policy is quite effective in itself, the best way to prevent copying altogether is to put a great emphasis on students doing their own work themselves on any assignment. This way, originality can be preserved in all forms of writing for all students.