Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Plagiarism: How Did Writers Ever Write Before Copy and Paste?

"They had their lean books with the fat of others' works."—Robert Burton

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction—Ya Think?

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

I love to laugh. The irony of this report from The Chronicle of Higher Education made me snort. They reported that Southern Illinois University's (SIUC) 2007 draft of a new anti-plagiarism policy appeared to plagiarize Indiana University's 2005 139-word definition of plagiarism. The SIUC anti-plagiarism committee was attempting to combat scrutiny and reduce the Plagiarazzi among their midst.

SUIC has had a number of high profile plagiarism controversies, including their president, Glenn Poshard—who was found guilty of an innocent mistake. He 'inadvertently plagiarized' his dissertation. Perhaps President Poshard motto was, "Copy from one, it's plagiarism: copy from two, it's research,"—John Milton.

According to SIUC's Anti-Plagiarism Committee's Findings…

To most academics and writers, plagiarism is a serious violation of professional ethics. Individuals in charge of writing SIUC's plagiarism policy responded to these allegations of double-dose plagiarism.

  • "Why reinvent the wheel," SIUC speech communications professor Lenore Langsdorf.
  • "We think this is a non-story," said David West, director of government and media relations for the school.
  • "It could be a coincidence. Any definition by nature is going to be close to another definition," Arthur M. "Lain" Adkins, the plagiarism committee chairperson who also serves as director of the university.
  • "If it needs to be footnoted, then that will be done," John Haller, retired vice president of academic affairs at SIUC.

Avoid the plague of plagiarism or innocent mistakes. After cutting and pasting someone else's work, make it your own by clicking on your thesaurus.

Like not paying taxes, plagiarize. If caught, then you can correct it.

Whether you are a fiction or nonfiction writer, please enjoy this humorous two-minute video "Writing Fiction Lesson 101: Basic Operating Procedure."

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