How to Get Away with Plagiarism
Henry E. Schaffer
Professor Emeritus of Genetics and Biomathematics
Coordinator of Special IT Projects & Faculty Collaboration/OIT
Interim Director Emeritus, LTS/DELTA
Senior Ethics Fellow, LANGURE
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What is it?
Extreme cases are easy to specify - borderline cases may be difficult
We're concerned with the academic definition
and living up to Academic Standards ~
for your benefit
In order to avoid plagiarism, you must give credit when
from: How to
Recognize Plagiarism Indiana University School of Education
- You use another person's ideas, opinions, or theories.
- You use facts, statistics, graphics, drawings, music, etc., or any
other type of information that does not comprise common knowledge.
- You use quotations from another person's spoken or written word.
- You paraphrase another person's spoken or written word.
Especially see the "flow chart" on that page.
Note: "work of others" covers more than "words"
Another excellent discussion
and the Honor Code on recognizing and avoiding plagiarism - from the
NC State Univ. History Dept.
Plagiarism vs. Copyright Violation - compare and contrast.
For copyright violation to occur - ownership matters, e.g. public
domain; wording matters.
Most or all Federal Government documents are in the "public domain".
What is this? How does it affect copying from them? When does this
8.2 A student shall be guilty of a violation of academic integrity if he
Are there academic rules/regulations?
student code (higher ed institutions generally have similar codes)
8.3 The act of submitting work for evaluation or to meet a requirement
is regarded as assurance that the work is the result of the student's
own thought and study, produced without assistance, and stated in that
student's own words, except as quotation marks, references, or footnotes
acknowledge the use of other sources. Submission of work used previously
must first be approved by the instructor.
Note last sentence in 8.3. Is it plagiarism? (cf Title of Sec. 8) ~
- represents the work of others as his or her own; [emphasis added}
- obtains assistance in any academic work from another individual in
a situation in which the student is expected to perform independently;
Does it happen?
Paper Mills ~ YES!!!!
How about in the writing of professionals?
Title: Past imperfect : facts, fictions, fraud-- American history from
Bancroft and Parkman to Ambrose, Bellesiles, Ellis, and Goodwin
Author: Hoffer, Peter Charles
PublicAffairs, c2004 DH Hill Call Number: E175 .H54 2004
Introduction : two-faced history
Ch. 1. The rise of consensus history
Ch. 2. Professions of history
Ch. 3. The new history and its promoters
Ch. 4. In the eye of the storm
Ch. 5. Falsification : the case of Michael Bellesiles
Ch. 6. Plagiarism : the cases of Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin
Ch. 7. Fabrication : the case of Joseph Ellis
Conclusion : the future of the past.
What's the problem?
Is it stealing?
Sometimes it is.
What is stolen?
Define Intellectual Property" Also see
Nothing directly lost ("intangible")
Indirectly - sales, reputation
But in academic studies - lack of learning matters rather than theft
So how do we describe the "violation" in the academic studies context?
- shortchanges the student
- devalues the course credit & degree
Should chance of detection be a consideration?
Ethically, no - practically, yes ~ What do you
How is it detected: above by authors noticing own work, or readers noticing
Also when specifically looking for it: Using Technology
- Copy whatever you want (from the "original" work(s))
- Change the ideas so they don't resemble the original
- Reword so no more than two significant words in a row are the same
as in the original
- Reword so that the vocabulary used is not the same as the original
- Read it over multiple times and work with it so that you develop
extensive familiarity, and (preferably) it is in your own personal
By the time this is done well enough, the effort is the same or greater
as it would be to write an original paper.
Or, as my mother said, "Crime does not pay well."
Overviews & Resource Pages
Ultimate Guide to Copyright for Students
short discussion in the context of Computer and Information Literacy
page on plagiarism.
Cyberspace: Learning the Rules of Recycling Content with a View Towards
Nurturing Academic Trust in an Electronic World"
by Deborah R. Gerhardt
Hearts and Minds in War on Plagiarism