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If a Student of Yours Plagiarized, What Would Be the Punishment?

By Michele McNeil — February 19, 2008 1 min read
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That’s the question I started thinking about given the flap over Sen. Barack Obama’s “plagiarism” of some lines from a speech of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a big-time Obama supporter.

I’m in grad school now, and as a student, plagiarism (or the borrowing of another’s work and claiming it as one’s own) is strictly prohibited. Even unintentional plagiarism is grounds for course failure or even expulsion from school. Simply put, as a student, you’re supposed to cite from where you get your information—even if you get “permission” from the original source, as Obama said he did. I suspect the same is true in high school, and at any grade, for that matter.

(UPDATE: Dave, a school administrator and a great Ohio blogger, reports in the comment section of his blog item on this subject that if a student did what Obama did, he would be disciplined—as would the student who knowingly gave his work to another student.)

Clearly, politics is different. And originality is difficult to find in political rhetoric. Obama points out that his chief rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, borrows some of his signature phrases, such as “turning the page.” Still, I’d say politicians are not role models for how you should—and should not—attribute information.

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