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The drawbacks of plagiarism are many. It also depends on if you're asking about plagiarism in research (as in not citing a source correctly) or plagiarism in writing (passing off someone else's writing as your own.)
The main drawback for the teacher and the learner is the same. The teacher cannot assess whether the student has learned anything if she doesn't complete the writing on her own. Teachers have objectives they want students to meet, and writing can show if these objectives are met. I teach Creative Writing, and if I want to know if my students can punctuate dialogue correctly, I'll ask them to write a page of dialogue. If a student plagiarizes this, how do I know she's learned anything?
The drawback for the student is similar. While punctuating dialogue may not seem too important, that student hasn't learned that skill. Also, if I expect that student to use that skill somewhere else (say, in a short story) and she doesn't know it, it will become more obvious that this student is being dishonest and losing my trust.
Many academic institutions have strict policies against plagiarism. I give a zero on any plagiarized assignment. Some colleges and universities expel students who plagiarize or put them on academic probation.
Plagiarism is also unfair to the person who originally wrote the piece or had the idea. The plagiarist is saying, "Thanks for doing all of the work--I'm going to take the credit for it." No one ends up winning.
I agree with the answer above; however, I would like to add that plagiarism is horribly detrimental to both the teacher and the student. For teachers, valuable time is lost because they have to check sources, deal with the student who plagiarized, etc. The student loses respect for himself or herself and the teacher also loses respect for the student.
Clearly the time involved checking sources is a drawback for the instructor. But, it is the student and his or her peers that are really hurt the most.When a student leaves an educational institution and enters the workforce, employers should be confident that students have a certain level of competency in their field. Suppose Student A cheats his or her way through a class. Then when their employer asks them to complete that task (when they can't), it hurts everyone because the employer then is led to believe students from that school also do not have that competency. So, when Student B applies for a job with that company, the employer may look to other schools for students.
Plagiarism is unethical and dishonest. A piece of writing with no new original contribution creates no new knowledge or understanding. Therefore it is worthless in itself. When a piece of writing has original value to offer, citing and acknowledging inputs from other sources enhances value of the work. In contrast plagiarism often discredits both plagiarist and the whole work containing plagiarism.
When plagiarism is used by students for their assignment, it fails to achieve the basic purpose of assignment, which is usually to develop ability to develop their thinking and and the ability to present their ideas effectively.
Plagiarism is definitely a problem that needs to be addressed. Students that plagiarize learn that it is easier to get their work done but they really to be taught that it is a form of cheating. It is certainly not fair to steal someone else's work. When students plagiarize, they are not learning anything that they are supposed to be learning.
The main drawback of plagiarism is that it is not always intentional, but the consequences are usually the same either way. It is important to teach students why they should avoid plagiarism. Usually they will turn to it in times of stress, when they feel they don't know what to do, or because they are just not interested. Sometimes, they do it unintentionally. All of these situations need to be addressed very differently. That is a major problem with plagiarism.
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