"Copying and pasting from the Web is just like copying from a book. But too many students either don't know that it's cheating—or don't care." Trip Gabriel's article, "'Generation Plagiarism'?" in the New York Times UPFRONT - The Newsmagazine for Teens, recounts three anecdotes of students that use someone else's words without attribution:
A freshman at Rhode Island College copied and pasted from a website about homelessness—and didn't think he needed to credit a source in his assignment because the site didn't list an author.
At DePaul University in Chicago, the tip-off to one student's copying was the purple shade of several paragraphs he had lifted from the Web: When confronted by a writing tutor, he was not defensive—he just wanted to know how to change the purple text to black.
And at the University of Maryland, a student said he thought Wikipedia's entries on the Great Depression—unsigned and collectively written—did not need to be credited since they counted, essentially, as "common knowledge."
The idea that it is okay to take information from here and there to create your own work without providing any attribution is becoming endemic. It stifles creativity and blurs the lines of what thoughts and ideas are truly ones own, what are the ideas of others.
The article references Sarah Wilensky, a senior at Indiana University wrote a paper headlined, "Generation Plagiarism," in which she says that relaxing plagiarism standards "does not foster creativity, it fosters laziness."
The New York Times Upfront, Vol. 143, October 25, 2010 http://teacher.scholastic.com/scholasticnews/indepth/upfront/features/index.asp?article=f102510_plagiarism