July 11, 2018

What is plagiarism, or about Western standards of scientific ethics

Copying from one source is

plagiarism, copying from two – study.

(Wilson Misner, American writer)

One of the generally accepted norms is the belonging of a work, an opening, an idea to the authors indicated in them. In other words, who subscribed to an article, story, verse, picture or other product of individual or collective creativity – he created it. Violation of this principle, that is, “extradition of someone else’s work for their own or illegal publication of someone else’s work under their own name, attribution of authorship”, is called plagiarism. Despite the fact that in science (as well as in other spheres) plagiarism is condemned, this phenomenon, unfortunately, occurs quite often. Moreover, in our society plagiarism is understood quite narrowly, namely, how to extradite someone else’s work or part of it for its own – and, in principle, everything. In the West, the academic community has developed a more comprehensive understanding of plagiarism in science, and recommendations on how to avoid this violation of the norms of scientific ethics are sufficiently detailed and extensive. It will be interesting and useful to get acquainted with them.

Varieties of plagiarism in academic prose

One of the most popular online resources about plagiarism check is the TurnItIn website. Its authors decided to bring the definition of this term contained in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. To carry out plagiarism means: 1) stealing the idea or words of another person and handing them out as their own; 2) use the results of the work of another person without indicating the source from which they are borrowed; 3) steal a literary work and 4) present an already existing idea (or product) as new and original. Thus, plagiarism is fraud, consisting in the theft of work from another person, which the plagiarist does not recognize.

Plagiarism is a series of actions. Some are clear from what has been said. This is the issuance of completely foreign work for one’s own, the use of other people’s ideas or phrases without indicating the source, as well as indicating incorrect information about the source where the information is borrowed from. Other cases are less obvious, because they are associated with violation of the citation rules.

The rules themselves are familiar to us. Citation is used in all cases where it is necessary to bring the opinion of another author. A good tone is the indication of certain information about the author (occupation, the title of the quoted work, etc.) at the first mention, especially if the author is not known to the target audience. If the author’s thought is quoted verbatim, it is quoted. If a large passage is quoted from the text, it is not taken in quotation marks. Instead, it is allocated in a separate paragraph, which is printed in either a smaller font or with another paragraph indentation (to show that this is a verbatim quote). Permissive omissions, denoted by an ellipsis, and changes in individual words and phrases, denoted by square brackets. The source text can be rephrased, for which it is not enough to replace several words, the structure of the sentence must change, otherwise the paraphrasing is not considered correct. At the same time, distorting the thought of another author, attributing to him what he did not say, is not allowed. Quotation marks are not used when paraphrasing, but a link to the source (if possible, specifying specific pages) is required in all cases. The list of references includes not only those sources that are referenced in the text, but also those that were used by the author when working on his text, even if he does not refer to them.

Quotations that do not comply with the above rules are considered plagiarism. Such cases include, first, word-for-word citation of the text from the source, not taken in quotation marks, and secondly, the formulation of someone else’s thoughts in their own words, so as not to indicate the source, thirdly, incorrect rephrasing, changing the meaning of the words of another author. This approach to citation has not yet been extended. For example, sometimes there are works with a list of used sources, but without references to them in the text. I have been getting advice to include in the text of my articles phrases “according to our Opinion, the author believes that…” and the like, so that it was clearly visible that this or that thought belongs to me. But when following the above approach it is clear that any part of the text that does not contain a reference to the source reflects the view and opinion of the author himself, therefore, it is unnecessary to emphasize this unnecessarily.

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