Saint Mary's University Writing Centre

Halifax, NS

Why Plagiarism Doesn’t Bother Me At All: A Research-Based Overview of Plagiarism as Educational Opportunity

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Teaching & Learning in Higher Ed.

Plagiarismby Gerald Nelms

When I began teaching back in the early 1980s, any student plagiarizing upset me a lot. I experienced exactly what Richard Murphy describes in his 1990 College English article, “Anorexia: The Cheating Disorder”:

Plagiarism irritates, like a thin wood splinter in the edge of one’s thumb. With any sort of reasonable perspective, I realize that one student’s possibly copying part of one paper on James Joyce is a small matter. In a typical semester, I teach 120 students and read perhaps 600 student papers. In a typical day, I have two classes to prepare and teach, committee meetings to attend, conferences with individual students, the utility bill to pay, a child to pick up from a Cub Scout meeting. But everything I touch rubs the sliver in my thumb and sets its irritation pulsing. As much as I try, I cannot ignore it. (p. 889)

And, for…

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One thought on “Why Plagiarism Doesn’t Bother Me At All: A Research-Based Overview of Plagiarism as Educational Opportunity

  1. While I agree with everything Nelms says here, I think the argument can be taken further — and I’ve been doing so for some time. Below is a link to a couple of publications where I’ve made the argument that plagiarism should — indeed, does — constitute a challenge to teaching practices that we desperately need to question (most immediately, the uses to which we put writing in classes). I argue, among other things, that “the challenge of easier and more convenient plagiarism is to be welcomed. This rising tide threatens to change things — for, I predict and hope, the better.”

    http://www.stu.ca/~hunt/4reasons.htm

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