NU Ideas

NU Ideas Volume 6


Nagoya University Multidisciplinary Journal

Third International Symposium on
Academic Writing and Critical Thinking

Analyzing Distinct Varieties of Plagiarism

Chad Nilep
Nagoya University

Plagiarism is widely recognized as a problem in academic writing, both for classwork and for publication. Scholars have discussed causes of plagiarism ranging from students’ ignorance, to teachers’ disengaged style and uninspiring assignments, to the ready availability of copy-able models and relatively mild judgement against plagiarism. Although it is generally viewed as a form of academic dishonesty, however, not all plagiarism comes from students behaving unethically or even negligently. This paper analyzes three cases of plagiarism resulting from distinct causes. Plagiarism arises when students attempt to combine information from texts with similar wording but unrelated information. In one case a writer’s attempt to “borrow standard phraseology from native speakers” as recommended in writing advice (Swales and Feak 1994) results not only in close paraphrase plagiarism, but also loss of information important to the argument. In each case, writers miscommunicate by focusing too much on language form and not enough on the ideas being communicated. These cases show a need for attention to critical thinking and communication in writing education.


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