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Is plagiarism just bad manners?

Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker, Malcolm Gladwell created a stir on Twitter when he shared that he thought, “plagiarism [was] just bad manners…” This was his response to plagiarism allegations against him, during his interview with Daily Beast.

His reasoning was that plagiarism was not the journalistic sin it is made out to be, but rather that “the notion of originality” is narcasisstic. He argues that journalism cannot acknowledge that it is highly derivitave in nature, and therefore enforces originality on the level of the sentence. Basically if someone takes your words and makes something new with it, he “doesn’t care.”

But according to Christine Lee, Adjunct Professor of Writing, it is precisely this “I don’t care” attitude that lies at the core of plagiarism. The apathy of not caring about academic excellence leads to plagiarism and contract cheating.

The challenges related to plagiarism and contract cheating are becoming greater as the digital world and access to information freely shared grows. But this should not make us care less about plagiarism – in fact, we should become even more dilligent in how we credit thoughts and ideas. As in all things in life – where rules are no longer respected, unfortunate consequences follow.

Similarly if we loosen up the rules for plagiarism – what would the consequences for academic standards and credibility be?

We have to keep pushing for academic integrity, where plagiarism is more than “bad manners”, but rather an unacceptable act that equates to theft of ideas, thoughts and words.

Agree? Maintain Academic Integrity at your institution. Let us help you.

*Source: Turnitin Blog

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It’s apathy that leads to academic misconduct.

Christine Lee, Adjunct Professor of Writing

Education. Technology. Innovation