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Thread: Plagiarism

  1. #1
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Plagiarism

    I note that Barb D has been deleting posts which are unattributed copies and pastes from other sites.
    I agree with this.

    Plagiarism is not a common concept in some countries, so some members might not have heard of it. The idea is that you do not write or post something that is not your work unless you give its source.
    This sometimes happens with poems, dictionary definitions, etc.

    There are several main reasons for this (at least to me).
    The first is that whoever wrote the poem/article should be given credit.
    The second is that whoever copies and pastes it, should not be given credit. It makes you appear as if you know something which you don't.
    Thirdly, other readers might want to check the source. If the source isn't you, you should say so, and say who it is.

    Is there anyone who disagrees with this concept, or wants to discuss it?

  2. #2
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Plagiarism

    I'll second it completely. To start with legal issues, the site is run under English law, which enforces copyright strictly, as it is the company is registered there and the servers are stored there. Fair use allows the quoting from texts with referencing, but reproduction of entire texts is republication and may not be allowed- a complete dictionary definition is OK, for instance, but an entire article is not. Also, links to any downloads of files that infringe copyright will be deleted. While copyright laws are not enforced strictly in all countries, the legal background to this site is a system where they are enforced, so we will try to enforce this wherever we see it.

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    Default Re: Plagiarism

    I also agree. As a writer, I must emphasize it's all about the credit. (It's about money, too, but in the grand scheme of things, particularly since the Internet age, credit has become a much more vital component of the publishing process.)

    For example, years ago I wrote a "Behind the Scenes" article about reality TV shows that was published in a national newspaper. Over a year later, I was contacted by my editor - he was investigating an accusation of plagiarism. Someone had informed him that one portion of my article was on the IMDB in the "trivia" section of that particular TV show. Sure enough, that trivia fact was word-for-word exactly the same as a paragraph in my piece, but fortunately I was able to provide my original date-stamped MS Word files as evidence to show that someone had simply copied my text and had submitted it to IMDB. My editor never really doubted me, but it was nice to have the evidence to prove my innocence, and the whole situation could have been avoided had the IMDB submitter simply attributed his fact to the appropriate source.

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    Default Re: Plagiarism

    I agree entirely with what others have written.

    There is one problem area that I have enountered. I often try on this forum to help people with questions on grammar. Sometimes I check my answers with one of my serious grammars, sometimes I am confident enough of the reliablity of my own knowledge to give my own answer.

    There have been times when I have checked my answer to find that the words I have used are almost, occasionally exactly, identical to the words used by Quirk et al, Michael Swan, etc.

    Have I plagiarised in that 'my' words were written from my memory of something I had originally read? Or did I independently come to the same conclusion - in the same words?

    For example, I might write: The 'STATE' use of the Simple Present is found with verbs expressing a temporally stable state of affairs. It is also called the 'unrestrictive' present because it places no limitation on the extension of the state into past and future time: Honesty is the best policy.

    A week later, I am glancing through Leech and find exactly the same words. How do we know if I have plagiarised or not? When we are dealing with a whole paragraph, then there is usually no doubt, but with a sentence or two it is difficult to know.

    Leech, Geoffrey (2004) Meaning and the English Verb (3rd edn) Harlow: Longman.

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    Default Re: Plagiarism

    This just in today:
    High-profile Australian professor Julian Bondy quits after plagiarism accusation | The Australian

    Now, if we could only get some of our overseas students to at least try to understand the concept.

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    Default Re: Plagiarism

    The bottom line is that it's stealing. It's taking something that was someone elses and making it yours. Not good. Especially because the person who really wrote it worked, thought it through and edited it but the person stealing it just copied and pasted it and, in doing so, took credit for that work when in fact they did no work.

    Be a good person and don't copy other people's work. It's stealing, cheating and lazy!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Plagiarism

    Quote Originally Posted by alphaspeller View Post
    The bottom line is that it's stealing. It's taking something that was someone elses and making it yours. Not good. Especially because the person who really wrote it worked, thought it through and edited it but the person stealing it just copied and pasted it and, in doing so, took credit for that work when in fact they did no work.

    Be a good person and don't copy other people's work. It's stealing, cheating and lazy!
    That's true from our individualistic Western culture.
    But not all societies think the same. That is why Chinese students often have a problem with this. (I'll use the example I know - I'm sure other cultures also find this concept confusing).

    When I was doing my BInfoTech, there were many overseas students in our class - two in my assignment group. Neither could grasp this concept. When I compiled the assignment I could not use any of their work (actually, some academics work copied from the internet) because I did not want to risk failing the course. It meant working twice as hard.

    Their idea was this: Why put in inferior grade work when you can copy good work from an academic who has researched the issue, and present that? Everybody does this. It's not cheating. It's simply gathering the best that has been written on the subject and submitting that. It's collaboration. In the best traditions of socialism, the ideas don't belong to someone just because they were the first to publish them. Published ideas are common property. If you asked to answer a question in an assignment, and someone has already answered that question better than you could ever do, then the correct thing to do is to copy the better answer.
    This subjugation of the individual to society makes it almost impossible for some non-western students to even imagine why someone would object to posting some wise advice or information without attribution. Ideas of copyright and plagiarism don't occur in their culture. Individual credit where it's due is not a cultural value. You can tell them it's stealing, but they won't comprehend.

    Now, regardless of the virtues of this viewpoint, this is not how academia or published discourse works in English-speaking countries. And it's not how honest people are expected to behave on English-speaking newsgroups and forums.

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    Default Re: Plagiarism

    It's one thing to copy or borrow a certain point or piece of information like say, "According to the studies of Dr. Smith, Omega 3 fish oil lowers inflammation."

    But to use someone's writing word for word is where it becomes stealing and Plagiarism. If you put it in your own words it's generally fine.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Plagiarism

    Quote Originally Posted by Golferman View Post
    It's one thing to copy or borrow a certain point or piece of information like say, "According to the studies of Dr. Smith, Omega 3 fish oil lowers inflammation."

    But to use someone's writing word for word is where it becomes stealing and Plagiarism. If you put it in your own words it's generally fine.
    In English-speaking countries yes. I think that Ray was simply saying that some cultures do not regard it as 'cheating' in the way that we do. This is not to say that we should accept it in our culture; indeed we must ensure that people with such cultural beliefs know that it is unacceptable in our culture.

    However, Ray's post was useful - to me, at least. I shall still fight against it, but I shall try not to regard all who do it as wilful criminals.

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    Default Re: Plagiarism

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    You can tell them it's stealing, but they won't comprehend.
    </p>
    In this country, which also has a socialist past, lots of students write course-papers by pasting from the Internet. Is it because they don't comprehend that they are stealing? I don't think so. I'm sure they realize what they are doing. The thing is they look at stealing as something natural, something happening everywhere around. A corrupted society produces corrupted minds.

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