Plagiarism: Words and Ideas
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- Bouville, M. Sci Eng Ethics (2008) 14: 311. doi:10.1007/s11948-008-9057-6
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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.