Plagiarism: Words and ideas

Science and Engineering Ethics vol. 14, pp. 311-322 (2008)

8 Pages Posted: 29 Feb 2016

Date Written: November 5, 2007


Plagiarism is a crime against academy. It deceives readers, hurts plagiarized authors, and gets the plagiarist undeserved benefits. However, even though these arguments do show that copying other people’s intellectual contribution is wrong, they do not apply to the copying of words. Copying a few sentences that contain no original idea (e.g. in the introduction) is of marginal importance compared to stealing the ideas of others. The two must be clearly distinguished, and the ‘plagiarism’ label should not be used for deeds which are very different in nature and importance.

Keywords: Academic dishonesty, Academic integrity, Academic misconduct, Cheating, Copyright infringement, Ethics, Intellectual property, Research misconduct

Suggested Citation

Bouville, Mathieu, Plagiarism: Words and ideas (November 5, 2007). Science and Engineering Ethics vol. 14, pp. 311-322 (2008), Available at SSRN:

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