AskDefine | Define plagiarist

Dictionary Definition

plagiarist n : someone who uses another person's words or ideas as if they were his own [syn: plagiarizer, plagiariser, literary pirate, pirate]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. One who plagiarizes; or purloins the words, writings, or ideas of another, and passes them off as his own; a literary thief; a plagiary.

Extensive Definition

Plagiarism is the practice of claiming or implying original authorship of (or incorporating material from) someone else's written or creative work, in whole or in part, into one's own without adequate acknowledgement. Unlike cases of forgery, in which the authenticity of the writing, document, or some other kind of object itself is in question, plagiarism is concerned with the issue of false attribution.
Within academia, plagiarism by students, professors, or researchers is considered academic dishonesty or academic fraud and offenders are subject to academic censure. In journalism, plagiarism is considered a breach of journalistic ethics, and reporters caught plagiarizing typically face disciplinary measures ranging from suspension to termination. Some individuals caught plagiarizing in academic or journalistic contexts claim that they plagiarized unintentionally, by failing to include quotations or give the appropriate citation. While plagiarism in scholarship and journalism has a centuries-old history, the development of the Internet, where articles appear as electronic text, has made the physical act of copying the work of others much easier, simply by copying and pasting text from one web page to another.
Plagiarism is different from copyright infringement. While both terms may apply to a particular act, they emphasize different aspects of the transgression. Copyright infringement is a violation of the rights of the copyright holder, when material is used without the copyright holder's consent. On the other hand, plagiarism is concerned with the unearned increment to the plagiarizing author's reputation that is achieved through false claims of authorship.



In the academic world, plagiarism by students is a very serious offense that can result in punishments such as a failing grade on the particular assignment (typically at the high school level) or for the course (typically at the college or university level). For cases of repeated plagiarism, or for cases in which a student commits severe plagiarism (e.g., submitting a copied article as his or her own work), a student may be suspended or expelled. Many students feel pressured to complete papers well and quickly, and with the accessibility of new technology (The Internet) students can plagiarize by copying and pasting information from other sources. This is often easily detected by teachers, for several reasons. First, students' choice of sources are frequently unoriginal; instructors may receive the same passage copied from a popular source (such as Wikipedia) from several students. Second, it is often easy to tell whether a student used his or her own "voice." Third, students may choose sources which are inappropriate, off-topic, or contain incorrect information. Fourth, lecturers may insist that submitted work is first submitted to an online plagiarism detector.
In many universities, academic degrees or awards may be revoked as a penalty for plagiarism.
There is little academic research into the frequency of plagiarism in high schools. Much of the research investigated plagiarism at the post-secondary level. Of the forms of cheating (including plagiarism, inventing data, and cheating during an exam), students admit to plagiarism more than any other. However, this figure decreases considerably when students are asked about the frequency of "serious" plagiarism (such as copying most of an assignment or purchasing a complete paper from a website). Recent use of plagiarism detection software (see below) gives a more accurate picture of this activity's prevalence.
For professors and researchers, plagiarism is punished by sanctions ranging from suspension to termination, along with the loss of credibility and integrity. Charges of plagiarism against students and professors are typically heard by internal disciplinary committees, which students and professors have agreed to be bound by.


Since journalism's main currency is public trust, a reporter's failure to honestly acknowledge their sources undercuts a newspaper or television news show's integrity and undermines its credibility. Journalists accused of plagiarism are often suspended from their reporting tasks while the charges are being looked into by the news organization.
The ease with which electronic text can be reproduced from online sources has lured a number of reporters into acts of plagiarism: Journalists have been caught "copying-and-pasting" articles and text from a number of websites.

Online plagiarism

Since it is very easy to steal content from the web by simply copying and pasting, the problem of online plagiarism is growing. This phenomenon, also known as content scraping, is affecting both established sites and blogs . The motivation is often to attract away part or all of the original site's search engine-generated web traffic and to convert these stolen visitors into revenue through the use of online ads.
Free online tools are becoming available to detect and prevent plagiarism , and there are a range of approaches that attempt to limit online copying, such as disabling right clicking and placing warning banners against plagiarism on web pages. Once identified, instances of plagiarism are commonly addressed by the rightful content owners sending a DMCA removal notice to the offending site-owner, or to the ISP that is hosting the offending site.

Other contexts

Generally, although plagiarism is often loosely referred to as theft or stealing, it has not been set as a criminal matter in the courts. Likewise, plagiarism has no standing as a criminal offense in the common law. Instead, claims of plagiarism are a civil law matter, which an aggrieved person can resolve by launching a lawsuit. Acts that may constitute plagiarism are in some instances treated as copyright infringement, unfair competition, or a violation of the doctrine of moral rights. The increased availability of intellectual property due to a rise in technology has furthered the debate as to whether copyright offences are criminal.


Self-plagiarism is the reuse of significant, identical, or nearly identical portions of one’s own work without acknowledging that one is doing so or without citing the original work. Articles of this nature are often referred to as multiple publications. Typically, high public-interest texts are not a subject of self-plagiarism; however, the authors should not violate copyright where applicable. "Public-interest texts" include such material as social, professional, and cultural opinions usually published in newspapers and magazines.
In academic fields, self-plagiarism is a problem when an author reuses portions of his or her own published and copyrighted work in subsequent publications, but without attributing the previous publication. Identifying self-plagiarism is often difficult because of legal issues regarding fair use. Some professional organizations like the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) have created policies that deal specifically with self-plagiarism. As compared to plagiarism, self-plagiarism is not yet very well-regulated. Some universities and editorial boards chose to not regulate it at all; those consider the term self-plagiarism oxymoronic since a person cannot be accused of stealing from himself.
For authors wishing to avoid potential issues when authoring new papers, the authors are strongly encouraged to follow these "best practices":
  1. Provide full disclosure — mention in the introduction that the new or derivative work incorporates texts previously published.
  2. Ensure there is no violation of copyright.
  3. Cite the old works in the references section of the new work.

Organizational publications

Plagiarism is presumably not an issue when organizations issue collective unsigned works since they do not assign credit for originality to particular people. For example, the American Historical Association's "Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct" (2005) regarding textbooks and reference books states that there is no question about taking credit for someone else's ideas. Since textbooks and encyclopedias are summaries of other scholars' work, they are not bound by the same exacting standards of attribution as original research. However, even such a book does not make use of words, phrases, or paragraphs from another text or follow too closely the other text's arrangement and organization.
Within an organization, in its own working documents, standards are looser but not non-existent. If someone helped with a report, they expect to be credited. If a paragraph comes from a law report, a citation is expected to be written down. Technical manuals routinely copy facts from other manuals without attribution, because they assume a common spirit of scientific endeavor (as evidenced, for example, in free and open source software projects) in which scientists freely share their work.
The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications Third Edition (2003) by Microsoft does not even mention plagiarism, nor does Science and Technical Writing: A Manual of Style, Second Edition (2000) by Philip Rubens. The line between permissible literary and impermissible source code plagiarism, though, is apparently quite fine. As with any technical field, computer programming makes use of what others have contributed to the general knowledge.
It is common for university researchers to rephrase and republish their own work, tailoring it for different academic journals and newspaper articles, to disseminate their work to the widest possible interested public. However, it must be borne in mind that these researchers also obey limits: If half an article is the same as a previous one, it will usually be rejected. One of the functions of the process of peer review in academic writing is to prevent this type of "recycling".
Public figures commonly use anonymous speech writers. If a speech uses plagiarized material, however, it is the public figure who may be cast in a bad light. For instance, Delaware Senator Joe Biden was forced out of the 1988 U.S. Presidential race (but remained in the U.S. Senate) when it was discovered that parts of his campaign speeches were plagiarized from speeches by British Labour party leader Neil Kinnock and Robert Kennedy.


External links

plagiarist in Tosk Albanian: Plagiat
plagiarist in Arabic: سرقة فكرية
plagiarist in Bulgarian: Плагиатство
plagiarist in Czech: Plagiát
plagiarist in Danish: Plagiat
plagiarist in German: Plagiat
plagiarist in Spanish: Plagio
plagiarist in Esperanto: Plagiato
plagiarist in French: Plagiat
plagiarist in Indonesian: Plagiarisme
plagiarist in Hebrew: גניבה ספרותית
plagiarist in Latvian: Plaģiāts
plagiarist in Lithuanian: Plagijavimas
plagiarist in Hungarian: Plágium
plagiarist in Dutch: Plagiaat
plagiarist in Japanese: 盗作
plagiarist in Norwegian: Plagiat
plagiarist in Norwegian Nynorsk: Plagiat
plagiarist in Polish: Plagiat
plagiarist in Portuguese: Plágio
plagiarist in Romanian: Plagiat
plagiarist in Russian: Плагиат
plagiarist in Simple English: Plagiarism
plagiarist in Slovak: Plagiát
plagiarist in Finnish: Plagiointi
plagiarist in Swedish: Plagiat
plagiarist in Thai: โจรกรรมทางวรรณกรรม
plagiarist in Turkish: İntihal
plagiarist in Ukrainian: Плагіат
plagiarist in Chinese: 抄袭

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