Zakaria, Lehrer, Anderson- Plagiarism

The article that matched the most with my concept of plagiarism was the one about a journalist named Fareed Zakaria. This was because some of his passages in his article “The Case for Gun Control” were very similar to historian Jill Lepore’s article on guns in America. He did not give credit to JIll Lepore when he used her text. However, Zakaria publicly apologized and Time magazine suspended his column for a month.

In the situation with Jonah Lehrer, the fabricated quotes from Bob Dylan for his book “Imagine”. Leher is also known for self-plagiarizing, which is recycling your own former works for new articles. This brings up the topic of whether copying your own works is really plagiarism, since you are consciously recycling your own material, not another writers’ without their permission.

Chris Anderson was accused of plagiarizing in his book  “Free: The Future of a Radical Price”. It was found via a Google search that Anderson took passages from Wikipedia and other websites, and changed them up a little bit. He responded to these accusations by attributing it to a mistake during the editing process; he decided not to use footnotes due to not knowing the proper format of them. Another issue that is raised with this situation is the WIkipedia issue: should plagiarizing penalties be as severe if the content is taken from WIkipedia, where anyone can edit articles?

These three cases are not the same because the first one was taken from a historian, the second involved making up quotes and self-plagiarizing, and the third was taken from Wikipedia and claimed by the author as an editing mistake. I personally believe that these cases should be treated differently depending on the background of the information. A case of plagiarism from a reputable author or website is more severe than taking information from Wikipedia, in which any “common person” can insert information. What this says for my idea of plagiarism within universities is that universities should take instances of plagiarism and examine them on a case by case. The severity of the penalties should depend on where and under what circumstance the student copied information from. The principles that should guide our balance between collaboration, research, and original authorship are integrity and honesty. Even if you are not sure whether a passage could be counted as plagiarism, it is better to give credit to the author or at least mention that another author brought up the same points that you are making.


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