Ned Shaw

The recent incidence of plagiarism at The New York Times set off some empathetic alarm bells throughout the academic community. According to a 2002-03 survey of 3,500 graduate students in US and Canadian universities, 23%-25% of students acknowledged one or more instances of "cutting and pasting" from Internet sources and/or published documents.1 Electronic journals, E-books, Internet "paper mills," and other high-tech sources of information have put a whole new spin on academic integrity today.

Catching a plagiarizer today isn't easy. Decoo2 observes that plagiarism is noticed more in the hard sciences such as medicine, as compared to the social sciences such as philosophy. To detect plagiarism, some books suggest looking for discrepancies in fonts and writing styles and the age of material. However, students who consciously plagiarize are usually smart enough to eliminate these obvious signs. Specialized software programs can detect Internet-mediated plagiarism, but they may...

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