More on plagiarism

More on the latest mess at the New York Times, courtesy of the hawk-eyed Times-watchers at the Observer (and really, isn’t that a goodly portion of what we expect from the Observer? Is any other journal so aptly named?). Every time another high-profile incident like this happens, it’s important to remind ourselves what plagiarism is and is not. It’s not homage, it’s not “inspired by”, it’s not derivation, and it’s not any of the other artistic devices through which writers react and respond to the work of other writers. Be clear: Plagiarism is the conscious (or, almost as bad, careless) appropriation of other people’s words–word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence–represented as one’s own. In encountering plagiarism, be vigilant, and be rigorous. And be suspicious of anyone eager to conflate the various kinds of writerly behavior that isn’t plagiarism with the singular kind of writerly behavior that is plagiarism.

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