Sunday, February 04, 2007

I Was a Twelve-Year-Old Plagiarist

According to articles I’ve been reading in newspapers and online, some people have no compunction about passing off other writers’ words as their own.

I haven’t plagiarized anyone else’s words since seventh grade. That’s when I copied an article from the World Book Encyclopedia. The students in my science class were assigned reports on types of trees. I don’t remember if we could choose the tree we were expected to research or if the teacher chose them. Either way, I just couldn’t get excited about oak trees. As I recall, most of my classmates felt the same way about the assignment and also copied their reports from encyclopedias. Yes, I know that “everybody does it” is no excuse. But my 200 plagiarized words about oak trees did not get a six-figure contract from a major publishing house.

The teacher must have suspected that we were copying our reports from encyclopedias, but he never mentioned it or told us that we should be writing the reports in our own words.

Since then, however, everything I’ve written has been in my own words. My work is strictly mine. So, if you don’t like what I’ve written, you can’t blame anyone else.

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