Plagiarism is as old as original writing. It is copying other people’s material without any reference or permission and pretending to be one’s own original work. There are no exact boundaries where one can demarcate exactly the area of plagiarism from that of non-plagiarism. Some of the biggest names in the world have been accused of copying others. Shakespeare, the greatest English dramatis, has been termed by many critics as the greatest plagiarist. However, Shakespeare’s admirers say that borrowing is not copying. Shakespeare borrowed most of his ideas from his literary predecessors (and hence plagiarised), yet he is one of the top most authors of original writing.
In any kind of writing, it is generally allowed to copy some bits and pieces provided they are suitably referenced and that the original writer receives a credit by acknowledgement. This sort of copying is normally done either to comment on the original work or to explain a point by referring to some body’s else work. This is all acceptable and is done in almost any writing without being falling into the area of unauthorised copying.
With regards to MBA or college essays for admission, the applicant is expected to write his own work except where making a reference is absolutely essential. In the old days, when technologies were not yet so advanced, many applicants copied materials in their essays and were able to secure places in the target schools. Recently, this issue has grabbed the attentions of several business schools and they have formulated strict policies to identify cases of plagiarism. Several cases have been reported where applicants happen to copy other people’s materials. Not to be surprised, admission offers found some candidates copying exactly the same materials applying to the same schools. According to a report published in Business Week, the admission team of Smeal College of Business uncovered 29 cases in a bunch of 360 essays where in the candidates had extensively plagiarised. In another report, 12 cases were found in a batch of 870 essays.
How do schools discover plagiarism in admission essays?
There are several ways to detect unauthorised copied materials. Here are some of the softwares and services which can detect duplicate content online or offline.
This is online software that has a paid and free version. The free version checks only a page or URL. It checks the content of the page against the online published contents and displays the results. The paid version is more comprehensive where one can copy and paste any text which is checked against billions of websites for duplication. The copyscape software is a powerful tool and very useful, but it is mainly used by webmasters rather than academics as it has own limitations.
The Turnitin carries originality check, peer mark and grad mark. This is mainly designed for academic purpose and has been very popular among many schools and colleges. It has its own database of billions of essays. It checks for duplicate content online and creates a detailed report for the instructor. It also checks for grammars and other linguistic usage.
Caution for applicants
The best course for applicants is to avoid any attempt of plagiarism. If you are unable to write a good and impressive essay, it is always best to get good knowledge of the techniques and get some practical training and help. There are many useful online resources which can help the applicants to sharpen their skills of essay writing.