As defined by The American Heritage College Dictionary, the term plagiarize means "to use and pass off (the ideas or writings of another) as one's own; to appropriate for use as one's own passages or ideas from (another)." Plagiarism is an issue facing schools worldwide, especially since the Internet has become available for student use. Consequences of plagiarism range from failing the paper to being expelled from the student's high school or university.
Students may now go online and find millions of copies of papers and essays already written. Websites such as schoolsucks.com, freeessay.com, planetpapers.com, and many others offer students in any grade papers already written for either free or a price. They may also order a custom written essay from some websites. Using "cheat sites," such as schoolsucks.com, can be an easy way for teachers to spot students that have plagiarized. Most of the essays available on these cheat sites are of a different quality than that of what the student should be writing at. Many high school students attempt to turn in essays that are written on a collegiate level and vice versa.
The Internet can be exceptionally helpful on one hand, yet extremely harmful on the other. Students have the advantage of looking up information for reports and essays much quicker than reading through numerous textbooks. This allows the student to do most research at home, as many students have computers and Internet access at home. They also do not have to worry about getting to the library in time to read through encyclopedias, textbooks, and other research books. However, teachers must always be on the lookout for different forms of plagiarism when allowing students to use the Internet. .
There are many things teachers can do to help avoid plagiarism in their classrooms. Teachers should always post their rules of Internet usage on the bulletin board or in the front of the classroom to avoid any student later saying, "I didn't know I couldn't do that!" or "You never told me that!" Teachers should also have a mini-unit on plagiarism to teach students what plagiarism is and is not.