Borrowing Words

In both first year and second year we had to read a essay written by Fareed Zakaria called the ” Illiberal Democracy “. Fareed Zakaria writes for the Times and is the host of CNN’s foreign-affairs show, “GPS.” and is a well know political scientist in various academic circles.


The media has been in flurry over the past 2 days because Fareed Zakarai admitted to plagarising an article by  Jill Leopore in a article about gun control. He has apologised and as a result his column has been suspended for a month. He says he deeply regrets makeing that mistake and will never do it again. If Fareed can do this, then who else has been doing it??

This got me thinking about plagarism and so I researched alternative views of plagarism. 99% of writers have plagarised at least once in their life, whether intentional or unintentional. Most of it happens in university and there are a number of different types. For example you get word for word plagarism, paraphrasing plagarism and secondary plagarism.

Among many of the cases cited on plagiarism, Asian students have been highlighted as one of the largest number contributing to the problem (Introna et al, 2003) which is quite interesting.  These students, or ESL/EFL learners, who studied in USA and UK commonly practice plagiarism.  A lot of reasons have been cited.  Among those reasons include that quoting from a well-known authority is showing a sign of respect and deep reverence for the authority (McDonnell, 2003, Introna et al, 2003). Altering and changing even a bit of the authority’s word is a sign of disrespect and bad intellectual judgment.  At a more philosophical level, knowledge according to some societies including Asian is considered to belong to the society as a whole and it is a duty to share it with others (Hu, 2001 in McDonnell, 2003, Introna et al, 2003).  This asserts the idea of a collective society and the concept of societal interdependence advocated in Asian societies which opposes the view on the value of individual rights and ownership

However there is some forms of “accepted plagarism”. Such as ghost writing.Ghostwriting is a type of plagiarism of authorship: a failure to appropriately acknowledge contributions. The weirdest development along this line is the use  of ghostwriters by famous journalists who are too busy to write their own
columns. In scientific research, the phenomenon of “honorary authorship” is commonplace.
In typical cases, a supervisor or laboratory director, who has done little or
none of the research, is listed as co-author of a research paper.

Plagarism is a contested hot topic that is a major concern for scientific institutes and educational places. However there are those that say knowledge should be shared between everyone and there should be no limits or restrictions on it. They say knowledge should be free and easily accessible to all!

What do you think?

*  Idea for the post was given to me by Cristian Mihai.


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