Look, I get it. You’re struggling to work out what it is you actually think about something (the reason why you want to apply for this job; your quarterly business results; your hopes and dreams about the future of America, etc), so you look on the internet and read a few sentences that so perfectly encapsulate what you think that it’s basically like the writer stole it from you.
Copy and paste are your best friends – so long as you don’t make any mistakes when using them. Copy and paste are your best friends – so long as you don’t make any mistakes when using them.
If you think plagiarism is fine, morally speaking, here are five easy steps to avoid getting caught.
Add adjectives and adverbs
If you’ve found a sentence that sounds smart you can make it (and in the process yourself) sound real extra smart by inserting extra words. The more syllables the better. Instead of saying “you work hard for what you want in life” go for “you work expeditiously hard for what you want in this floccinaucinihilipilification life”. (Pro tip: use a thesaurus. A lot.)
Change the order of the words a bit
This one is easy peasy. Instead of saying “the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them” say “limit your willingness to work – it is your strength and achievement”.
Choose an obscure person to plagiarize
Michelle Obama = bad idea. Some people listening to your speech might know who she is.
Say it with an accent
When using another speechwriter’s material, you can confuse the audience by speaking in a heavy foreign accent. For example, when saying “treat people with dignity and respect” you can add an Arab flourish by pronouncing the words “treat beeble wiz dignity and resbect”. (A note of caution: Arab accents might not go down well at the Republican national convention).
Other possible distractions include singing your speech or delivering it while wearing nothing but a red sock (not necessarily on your foot).
If you get caught deny, deny, deny
Don’t try to explain to anyone that you had these thoughts years before anyone else, you merely failed to record them anywhere. People are dumb and do not understand the limitless capacity of your brain. Instead gasp, clasp your hands together and exclaim “Gosh! What an amazing coincidence!”
Do not, whatever you do, let anyone find out the probability of such a coincidence. (The odds that a sentence of five words will, by pure chance, be identical to another five-word sentence is one in 3,200,000,000,000,000,000,000 – which is less likely than hitting the lottery jackpot twice in a row).
“Telescopes listening for signs of life in the universe, Voyager’s golden records (yeah, that’s definitely not a leap of faith lol), SETI – all these are a mixture of science and faith”
I’m with you on that one – my daily research is a leap of faith. I’m hoping that my line of research is actually going somewhere. But the science is science, and should be no matter what I hope.
“teachers and academic institutions are full of crap: the very fact that you can plagiarize yourself is ridiculous. If you write a paper for one class, you should be able to make a few modifications and turn in the same paper for another class, but no, that’s plagiarism – BS !”
On this topic, it’s something I’m learning myself. In science publications, the article that has been published by Nature or Science or any other journal belongs to the journal, not to the authors, legally. By submitting the article for review and publication, you are allowing the journal to protect your rights (by giving those rights to them). So if you want to talk about something you’ve already done, you have to cite yourself, or risk the anger of the journal.
In class, I assume it’s the same way: by turning in an assignment in my chemistry course, that paper will be “reviewed” by the professor and will become the property of that class. I can’t then turn around and submit that same or similar paper to an other class without first getting permission of both teachers – aka, citing my previous paper.
“the ONLY reason teachers get upset about plagiarism is because getting published is how they get promoted
They don’t want other people getting promoted from their hard work.
That’s a fair and valid point.
But nobody in the real world gives a shit about what stupid papers you’ve written. All they care about are actual results that make money or that you can do the job. Getting published accomplishes neither of these.
Getting published doesn’t make you a better nurse or medical doctor or pharmacist. Yet they are all required to do research and they pretty much have to be published to be hired because somehow this idea of research = competence has infected the real world.”
And this is the argument of yours I most disagree with (aside from the idea that “that’s just dumb”, and “that’s just stupid” are valid arguments). If you publish a paper in a journal, everybody else who publishes on similar topics cares what you’re doing. And so does the government or who ever else you convince to fund your research. The point of publishing is to communicate your research. Communicating your results is how people find out what you’ve been doing in your lab. And if nobody finds out what you’re doing, you can’t get funded for further research. No funding, no job. AKA, publish or perish.
We also publish because that’s how our peers can review our work – how well-reasoned it is, how clearly we can explain ourselves, and whether there are any flaws in our experiments or theoretical designs. In theory, peer review is how ‘bad science’ gets weeded out, so if you get published, that is a gold medal for doing good research (especially if you get published in a top journal).