One thing that has been on my mind a lot of late is plagiarism. If I look I can find a number of examples of plagiarism but I’ll only give you one example because it’s fairly recent. John Hughes was nominated for the Miles Franklin award. At some stage it was uncovered that there were a number of scenes and phrases which were very similar to Svetlana Alexievich’s work. You can click on the link below to read more.
I’ve no idea what will come out of this particular example of plagiarism but I do know there have been many court cases surrounding plagiarism. Hughes has apologies publicly and maybe that’ll be the end of it, maybe he’ll rewrite his book, I’ve no idea.
So what is plagiarism? According to the dictionary ‘it’s the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as your own’. Which dictionary? I found those words or similar words in a number of dictionaries. This includes the Merriam-Webster and the Cambridge dictionaries.
There can be consequences for plagiarism. They range from having your PhD rescinded to being kicked out of school, or even being given the option of either being sacked or resigning your job. I found a number of examples on the Check For Plagiarism website.
I won’t say much more, but what I will say will not include the name of the person. This person committed plagiarism in their degree and was only found out years later. They’ve lost their job and may have their degree rescinded. Just in case you’re wondering if plagiarising in theses or books can have real world consequences, this is a good reminder that in some cases it can.
I’ve read so many books, magazines and blog posts I really worry about plagiarising someone. There is no way I can remember everything I’ve read, and if I have a brilliant idea there is no way I can look back at the thousands of books I’ve read and be sure I haven’t read it somewhere before. Will it stop me writing? No. Will it make me ask others to read my works before publication to have other people’s thoughts? Absolutely. I’m not saying that checking if I’ve plagiarised any one else’s work is a top priority for them, but I am hoping that if something rings bells for them they will tell me so I can try and check it out. Many eyes makes for a better book.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve read something that you’ve felt might be plagiarised. We can discuss it further in the comments.