No one agrees 100% on what makes for plagiarism. Essentially, plagiarism is (generally blatant) copying of someone else’s work without giving them any credit or acknowledgement.

What puzzles me about plagiarism is that in giving credit to the originator of a particular concept or work can enhance one’s own work tremendously. When people read your article and see that it is backed by support from many other experts; they tend to find it more credible.

Dear Colleagues

No one agrees 100% on what makes for plagiarism. Essentially, plagiarism is (generally blatant) copying of someone else’s work without giving them any credit or acknowledgement.

What puzzles me about plagiarism is that in giving credit to the originator of a particular concept or work can enhance one’s own work tremendously. When people read your article and see that it is backed by support from many other experts; they tend to find it more credible.

As opposed to the usual mumbo jumbo subjective rubbish that one reads in the newspaper which is based on anecdotes or someone’s biased opinion with no evidence provided to back up the opinions.

The Guilty Ones
The people who are most guilty of plagiarism are students, journalists and academics.

The rapid growth of the internet now means (for a journalist for example) that it is unnecessary to actually go out and interview people to derive primary evidence for an article. You can actually conjure up many more articles (supposedly derived from you) by simply trawling the internet and rewriting the articles with slight rewording. This is what a lot of newspapers are now doing as they are trying to cut their costs. This is naturally driving some of the good quality newspapers and journals into a frenzy as it is unfair.

Aggregation is different to Plagiarism – most of the time
A practice used by journalists particularly is to grab many pieces written on a particular subject and to rework them in one’s own language and to provide credit from the original sources of the story.

Obviously, simply directly quoting from the original articles without modifying the text is again plagiarism and unless permission has been granted is unacceptable.

Plagiarism by Students can be minimised through Turnitin
When writing a piece, one can check using software such as Turnitin of the degree of plagiarism. This gives one a warm and fuzzy feeling that one is doing the right thing when Turnitin gives one a low probability of plagiarism.

There is also a term called self-plagiarism where one copies previous pieces written by oneself. One should reference the earlier work; although in my opinion this can be somewhat unnecessary.

So….in whatever writing you do – ensure you reference your sources carefully and try and be original in one’s writing. This will give your readership confidence in your integrity as an engineering professional.

Thanks to the inimitable Don Christiansen from the IEEE for an interesting article on Plagiarism. Something which he obviously has thought about a lot as he is an esteemed engineering ‘journo’

Wilson Mizner is perhaps a bit cynical when he says: If you steal from one author it's plagiarism; if you steal from many it's research.


Yours in engineering learning

Steve

Mackay’s Musings – 23rd Feb’16 #588
125, 273 readers – www.idc-online.com/blogs/stevemackay