The author of the essay, “Why Plagiarism Is Not Necessarily Deceitful or Deserving of Censure”, Jennifer Mott-Smith discusses the topic of plagiarism, especially in cases of student writing and the academia. To some, the issue of plagiarism might seem black and white, an undue consideration, but the author of this work wants to bring the audience’s attention to some of the practice’s intricacies. Firstly, she argues, that the process of copying another person’s ideas or works in the literary sphere is complicated to define. Ideas are at their core – intangible, making the boundary between someone else’s thoughts and your own blur (Mott-Smith). Furthermore, identifying legitimate cases of copyright infringement or theft is difficult, as a number of phrases or word combinations are commonly used by all kinds of people.
The standards of detecting or evaluating cases of plagiarism also vary both by profession and level of the author’s writing skill, which further makes the matter complicated. The author also says that many consider plagiarism to be an offence worth punishment, either in a person’s academic field, or in the legal sphere. This response, however, may not be as effective or beneficial as expected. Many young writers and students use plagiarism as a way to find their own style, and assimilate into the field they occupy (Mott-Smith). This process does not ultimately harm the creators of a particular idea, and does not leave a monetary impact. The author appeals to both reason and emotion, discussing the implications and impact of genuine plagiarism, discussing it from an angle not many would attempt to take. He audience of this piece seems to be internet users in general, and writers in particular, as they are the demographic that feels most strongly about plagiarism.
As a response to the claims made by the author, I want to discuss the issue of plagiarism from an opposing standpoint. One of the major claims made by Mott-Smith is that citations and referencing are difficult to get right across the field, making cases of plagiarism out of genuine attempts at creating a written work. I feel that, if a person decides to reference something in their work, it will be evident even if they did not do that correctly. Citation standards include practices like putting the name of the work or its author somewhere in your own work, and that action in and of itself can be considered an attempt at a citation, making a claim of plagiarism less possible. Furthermore, the author states that cases of plagiarism in student work are largely harmless, as they do not bring monetary loss to the original authors. While this notion is not incorrect, I think the main hard of plagiarism in academia is that the person responsible for it may not bring their own tangible contribution to the field, instead using the work of others to advance. Similarly, students that copy other people’s work are unable to truly demonstrate the skills acquired with education, or their level of mastery in a particular subject. Plagiarism as an issue harms the integrity of the academic field, disincentivizes learning in students and negatively affects the general pool of knowledge held by humans.
Mott-Smith, Jennifer A. “Inside Higher Ed.” Why Plagiarism Is Not Necessarily Deceitful or Deserving of Censure (essay). 2017. Web.