‘I Know It When I See It’: On Academic Plagiarism, and How to Assess It

Higher Education for the Future, 2020

12 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2019 Last revised: 13 Apr 2020

See all articles by Ana Ramalho

Ana Ramalho

Leiden University

Marta Santos Silva

Maastricht University - Faculty of Law; KU Leuven

Date Written: August 25, 2019

Abstract

In the academic context, plagiarism is usually seen as an ethical offence, the boundaries and definition of which are often unclear. However, in some countries, plagiarism is also a legal wrong, amounting to copyright infringement. This article proposes a test for assessing plagiarism of academic works. The test is based on the law and jurisprudence of a particular country – Portugal – , where plagiarism is framed as copyright infringement. Article 196 of the Portuguese Copyright Law sets four elements that must be fulfilled for a finding of plagiarism: there must be a protected work; the alleged plagiarist must have used a partial or total reproduction of that work; the alleged plagiarist must have failed to attribute the authorship of the work to its rightful creator; and the work of the alleged plagiarist must lack its own individuality. The authors argue that, even if the law of a particular country does not frame plagiarism as a legal offence, these elements should be part of a test to be adopted and applied by academic institutions for the sake of legal certainty.

Keywords: copyright infringement, plagiarism, idea-expression dichotomy, academic best practices, academic works, originality

Suggested Citation

Ramalho, Ana and Santos Silva, Marta, ‘I Know It When I See It’: On Academic Plagiarism, and How to Assess It (August 25, 2019). Higher Education for the Future, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3442662 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3442662

Ana Ramalho (Contact Author)

Leiden University ( email )

P.O. Box 9520
2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA
Netherlands

Marta Santos Silva

Maastricht University - Faculty of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200
Netherlands

KU Leuven ( email )

Oude Markt 13
Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant 3000
Belgium

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