Medical Journal of Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth

: 2016  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 425-

Being too myopic about plagiarism

Banyameen Mohamad Iqbal, Tushar Kambale 
 Department of Pathology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Banyameen Mohamad Iqbal
Department of Pathology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Center, Pimpri, Pune - 411 018, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Iqbal BM, Kambale T. Being too myopic about plagiarism .Med J DY Patil Univ 2016;9:425-425

How to cite this URL:
Iqbal BM, Kambale T. Being too myopic about plagiarism . Med J DY Patil Univ [serial online] 2016 [cited 2024 Feb 24 ];9:425-425
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This is in response to the letter "plagiarism: When it is hard to detect." [1] The letter adds valuable inputs into the debate on an important ethical concern regarding publications. Plagiarism should be fought tooth and nail to ensure high-academic standards. However, I would like to differ slightly from the views put forward in this letter. Let's first have a look on the definition of plagiarism it states "wrongful appropriation, stealing and publication of another author's language, thoughts, ideas or expressions, and the representation of them as one's original work." [2] An important point while focusing on this definition is that it amounts to plagiarism only when the author portrays someone else's work as own. If the author puts a proper reference in support of the statement he/she has quoted, then it should not amount to plagiarism at all. Same thing is mentioned by the author as well "verbatim duplication of text by proper permission may not be plagiarism." [1] Coming on to the second point raised by the author about copying of same ideas amounting to plagiarism is really debatable. It is really hard for me to comprehend that how can even ideas be copied and how can we stop ourselves from doing it, if at all we are doing it. A question confounding me right now while writing this response is whether this reply of mine also amounts to plagiarism because I am also writing on the same idea as the author's letter, just the words are different. I am leaving this point open for discussion for all the stakeholders.

 Editor's Note

Two things are important besides the words and ideas when deciding whether a piece of writing has been plagiarized. First, the context in which the words and ideas has been used. Second, the motive (plagiarism amounts to stealing and is a crime where motive matters). If I use someone's words and ideas without acknowledging the source to build up a paradigm shift in thinking or practice than I have committed an act of plagiarism. Like all art forms, good writing may be considered an art; it takes an expert to identify imitations. Plagiarism detection software can serve the purpose of an initial screening test. The gold standard remains the expert's opinion. And like all ethical issues, plagiarism issues do not fall in black and white but contain shades of gray. Each alleged case of plagiarism has to be resolved based on the merit of each case. Explanation of the authors should also be solicited before deciding on an alleged case of plagiarism. Just to illustrate, let us take the authors' letter. The authors have reproduced the definition of plagiarism ad verbatim and cited their earlier letter as reference for this letter. However, in the earlier letter of the authors, the primary source of this definition is Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary. A casual reader may be misled in assuming that the definition of plagiarism has been proposed by the authors. This is wrongful appropriation and would qualify as plagiarism according to the definition (with misleading citation) by the authors!! However, when seen in context and examining the motive one is not likely to conclude this act as plagiarism since it is more likely to be due to oversight or lack of attention to detail.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1Joob B, Wiwanitkit V. Plagiarism: When it is hard to detect. Med J DY Patil Univ 2016;9:277.
2Iqbal MB, Kambale T. Principles and practice of plagiarism: Perpetrators' perspective. Lett Ed 2015;8:681-2.