Plagiarism in the Digital Age!

Dear Commons Community,

I am just back from two weeks on the West Coast (San Jose – conference;  Seattle – family).  The weather was twenty degrees cooler there than  here in New York.

Yesterday’s NY Times had an excellent article on the attitudes of college students towards plagiarism in the digital age.   In addition to identifying plagiarism as a growing and more serious problem, it references the work of an anthropologist, Susan Crum, from the University of Notre Dame who has conducted research on student attitudes to plagiarism.  Among her findings  is that many students basically view plagiarism as O.K.:

“If you are not so worried about presenting yourself as absolutely unique, then it’s O.K. if you say other people’s words, it’s O.K. if you say things you don’t believe, it’s O.K. if you write papers you couldn’t care less about because they accomplish the task, which is turning something in and getting a grade,” Ms. Blum said, voicing student attitudes. “And it’s O.K. if you put words out there without getting any credit.”

It appears that there is a good deal of work to do unless of course the faculty are also O.K.  with the above.

The full column is available at:



  1. I read Susan Blum’s book — “My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture” — last Spring, and I highly recommend it. It’s an engaging read and her ethnographic research with students is fascinating.