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Are You Plagiarizing?

Plagiarism is a vital problem in academic work, since the academy is a culture of both honour and honesty. (Don’t get me started on how dishonorable or dishonest the academy can be—I’m talking about ideals here.) Without honour and honesty, we can’t do our work since so much of it depends on trusting each other to tell the truth, including truth about our sources.

There’s an old joke that “stealing from an author is plagiarism; stealing from ten authors is research.” But it’s not funny. Stealing from anybody is stealing, and multiple thefts merely compound the crime.

But plagiarism is a multifarious phenomenon. And many people plagiarize without knowing it, especially those educated in certain parts of the world in which even higher education is largely a matter of unquestionable authoritative teaching and rote learning.

So are you plagiarizing? Here is a test you can take that includes helpful commentary to diagnose any hidden propensity you (or your students) might have to plagiarize.

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