Plagiarism in general (not Malhotra)

Dean Michael Anderson eastwestcultural at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 20 07:14:36 EDT 2015


I've created this separate thread todiscuss plagiarism in general, as opposed to a discussion aboutMalhotra specifically. Unfortunately, I feel it necessary to pointout what should be obvious: I'm not defending Malhotra's plagiarism.I'd prefer to leave that discussion at one of the other threads.
The discussion about plagiarism hasbrought to light some important issues. It seems that are differentopinions as to what constitutes plagiarism and how to deal with it.
So the first thing, as always, is todefine terms. I recommend this document:
http://go.turnitin.com/paper/plagiarism-spectrum?Product=Turnitin&Notification_Language=English&Lead_Origin=Website&source=Website%20-%20Download
As the paper notes, the Internet hasmade plagiarism easier and more common, both intentional andunintentional. This is in part because information overload has madeit difficult to keep track of the plethora of sources one can nowgain on a subject.
In addition, the downturn in thepublishing industry has made it more difficult to get the resourcesfor proofreaders. This could cause an impoverishment of new voiceswho don't have the resources available to do the necessary checks.
I think we need to look at plagiarismand how to deal with it in light of two criteria: intent and extent.
1) IntentAs Dominik pointed out, unintentionalplagiarism is still plagiarism, using the example of manslaughter.But that is also why manslaughter is usually not punished as severelyas murder.

If the plagiarism is unintentional,then an apology and a commitment to make a correctionshould be sufficient. It would be better if the apology were notgrudgingly given.

 If theplagiarism it is intentional, then the penalties should be greater.Intentional plagiarism is notthe same as murder, but it might be considered suicide – at leastprofessionally speaking.
2) ExtentIn dealing with plagiarism, the extentmay also be relevant. If only a few items are found have beenunintentionally plagiarized in a large body of work, maybe thatshould be dealt with differently than when the plagiarism makes up alarge proportion of the work or works of the author.
It seems to me that there is a need,especially in the modern information age, to re-examine ourdefinitions of plagiarism and to create more nuanced responses abouthow to deal with such allegations. 
Best,
Dean
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