We know it is wrong to go into a store
and take merchandise without paying for it. It isn't ours and it is
stealing. Many people, however, don't think it is wrong or stealing to take other
people's ideas or information and pass it off as their own without properly
citing it. Why is this? Students might wonder why should they
rewrite something in their own words when someone else can say it better, or
question whether their own ideas are as worthy as an experts, or think
because it is so easy to cut and paste or copy from a book that it must not
be wrong. In fact, this is plagiarism.
First of all, why do you think your teacher asked you to
write a research paper? A research paper is designed to help you
practice writing skills, thinking critically and thinking for yourself.
In essence, it is teaching you how to learn. Learning won't stop once
you graduate. You will constantly be needing to learn throughout your
life, so it is best to use this time and opportunity to do just that.
If you are always borrowing other people's ideas or words, you are never
going to be able to think or write on your own.
Your instructors are not giving
you research papers because they love to inflict pain upon students or
because they love nothing more than grading paper after paper. The
process of researching and writing a paper is teaching you how to think for
yourself and articulate your opinions and ideas.
Keep in mind that a person's ethics and character are not
tested only in those big moments in life but day to day in how they respond
to the little things that are woven together to create the person you are.