Monday, 31 October 2011

What is Plagiarism-----Want to share?

The other day ,Aashu,my five year –old son, rushed in with all excitement.
“Oh Mom! Today  we witnessed  a wonderful thing . Our teacher took us to the  large  pool inside our school campus and what was the surprise ,you see?”
“What---?”I retorted.  “There were  two  small dolphins and some other types of colourful fish . The dolphins started chasing the smaller ones  and the others were trying to seek refuge as if they were playing hide and seek. Then our Miss scattered some powder inside the pool and they started eating.  Our Miss also explained that dolphins can do  many tricks . She  told us about the mimicry which the dolphins do.  But as the school was over, we could not stay  longer ,but our Miss has promised that she would take us to the dolphinarium once more. Is n’t it something amazing?” he asked. “But Miss has also asked us to write some words about Dolphins.”he added.
“Sure !sure!”I answered and  helped him  undress and asked him to wash and take his lunch. Later when he went to bed, I thought and thought  about these dolphins and started collecting some information about these dolphins from the encyclopaedia. Later I  also surfed  the net for some information as Aashu was too small to do all these and he had got also his abacus classes to attend. I wished I could copy and paste the information so that my time and  labour would be saved a little bit .But the term “plagiarism” haunted me again and again. “Am I plagiarising or am I gathering information? Am I copying or am I counterfeiting another’s ideas ,words or work? Am  I writing a poem  on Dolphin or am I  considering about the facts for an objective analysis of the creature and its origin?” I opened my Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English” by A S Hornby  and found that “Plagiarism” means “an act of plagiarising something”  and “to plagiarize” means  to copy another person’s ideas ,words or work and pretend that they are your own. According to Chambers Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms-edited by Martin H. Manser , plagiarism means   borrowing, copying, counterfeiting, lifting  ,infringement, ,piracy, reproduction and theft.
But if I search for  some information and  write them in my own words, what is wrong with that ?Facts cannot be fiction. And if your writing is based on some information to quench the thirst of this info-hungry world, what is the second option?
History teaches us about so many facts .Does that mean the historians have plagiarised and  can be charged of  borrowing and copying? Scientists have done so many experiments based on Newton’s theory, does that mean they have plagiarized his ideas?


  1. Until about 300 years ago in Europe, writers took bits they liked from other writers and it was only a problem if they took large chunks unacknowledged. The ballads of England and Scotland from about 1400 to about 1650 were created by anonymous balladeers who frequently adapted things they'd heard and liked. Now, partly for forgiveable financial reasons, but partly for pride, we resent even the smallest lifting of material to use it differently.

    Historians, of course, use a common resource of facts, but if one discovers something no-one else knew, (s)he expects acknowledgement when the new-found fact is quoted in someone else's work, and there's a convention of how to do this. However, history is not just about facts but about interpreting the facts: again the interpretation isn't patented, but it would seem mean if one historian pretended something was his own original idea when in fact he'd read it somewhere else.

  2. Thanks for sharing your precious comments.This is the age of mix and match and we have to live with it.