In Plagiarism and Professional Ethics: A Journal Editor’s View, Michael Grossberg takes a deep look at the issues with detecting and addressing plagiarism. Grossberg quotes literary agent Donald Lamm to point out plagiarism is “easier to decry than to prevent, easier to detect than to litigate” (1334).
Quite simply, the nuances of plagiarism are more than quoting someone without quotation marks or a citation. Instead, it is a complete breakdown of the creative process, as the plagiarizer toils to copy and paste, reword, tweak, and make text just different enough from the original. The work to not get caught for plagiarism far exceeds simply citing the other historian’s work. Unfortunately, some students and even historians have not learned to just give other historians credit and be done with it.
Unfortunately, what Grossberg learned was that once you discover plagiarism, it is difficult do much about it. There are no legal ramifications unless there is a copyright infringement. However, if you accuse someone of plagiarism and cannot prove it sufficiently, then you run the risk of facing a libel suit (1338).
Of course, students can face suspension or expulsion. The softest of penalties usually involve retaking a course while a big F or W looms on a transcript. With both students and historians, plagiarism will ruin careers, even if it does not result in explicit punishment. A student has to explain the F or W on a transcript. A historian will face the critical eye of other historians and possibly the public that will think twice before trusting the historian’s work.
By Scott Manning
Online Learning Tips, Student Contributor