The Conceptual Librarian

May 27, 2010

From “Reality Hunger”

Filed under: Uncategorized — conceptlib @ 1:30 pm
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When I worked at a newspaper, we were routinely dispatched to “match” a story from The Times: to do a new version of someone else’s idea. But had we “matched” any of The Times’s words – even the most banal of phrases – it could have been a firing offense. The ethics of plagiarism have turned into …the narcissism of minor differences: because journalism cannot own up to its heavily derivative nature, it must enforce originality on the level of the sentence. Trial by Google.

The implication is that because ideas cannot be copyrighted – but for some genius reason the structure of sentences can – you must become adept at “putting things in your own words.” You want to say exactly the same thing, but unless you substitute the original words with synonyms, you are in some way cheating.
The other way is to use inverted commas and acknowledge your sources. This will also give the impression you have done serious research (i.e. you haven’t just made it all up!)…. and you get brownie points for a well-populated bibliography.

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