Plagiarism is a heavy word that could mean a long list of complexities in a student’s life. All first years are usually taught about the do’s and don’ts of university life, pertaining to things that can result in academic misconduct. Plagiarism/copying/cheating forms a bulky part of this. Plagiarism usually takes place when students are writing their essays or lab reports and trust me, it is no small thing.
I have seen quite a few people not worrying about it too much and copying away to glory from previous years’ essays or lab reports. They think that if you change just certain aspects, you ‘ll be good. Unfortunately that may not be the case. You would have to be really lucky to get away with it, and even if you do, don’t let that boost your ego and NEVER even think of making it a habit. Because once you get caught, you wouldn’t even want to think about the consequences. What is worse is that if it’s a shared report/essay you get your partners into trouble too, thereby causing someone totally innocent and unaware of this fact (as is the case most times) to suffer. And for people working together as a group, do make efforts to verify that your partner’s part is authentic, to save yourself trouble later on.
Another misconception that students have is that copying your own material is acceptable. If you do a paper on one topic, and you by chance have to do something on the same topic again after one or more semesters, you CANNOT copy from yourself. This is made clear in the guidelines for academic misconduct.
The excuse that you weren’t aware that someone had already thought of and used the same material is not valid. It is your duty being aware. Find out. While copying famous lines from the Internet, quote them. Be original, trust that you can do good. A mark or two less wouldn’t hurt as much as an academic penalty would.