Plagiarism Thoughts

I have these further comments on plagiarism and patchwriting, important and therefore in bold.

  • Copying someone’s words is not always “wrong” in the sense of “immoral”; it depends on the context, the intent of the copier, and the viewpoint of the original author.
  • In the academic context, there are (or should be) two kinds of plagiarism: deliberate plagiarism, which is wrong in the sense of “immoral,” and patchwriting, which is wrong in the sense of “mistaken.”
  • Patchwriting is a mistake caused by being unwilling to use your own words. Unfortunately, sometimes it is also a mistake to use your own words: words that feel like “your own” are often too informal or too awkward for academic writing. It is also a mistake to quote too much.
  • Commit those three mistakes in this order: 1) Use your own awkward words. 2) Quote too much. 3) Patchwrite, with full citation information.
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