When In Doubt, Cite It Out!

Run DMC might say that plagiarism is tricky. “It’s tricky, tricky, tricky.” I needed to cite that quote because it is more than three words taken from a source.  I would not want anyone to think that I had invented that lyrical gem. But it just goes to show that plagiarism is not a joke and it can be very complicated. There are so many rules and you basically need to live by the mantra, “When in doubt, cite it out.” I think I just made that up, but you can never really be sure. That is the exhausting thing about citing your work. You could have an idea pop into your head and then learn later on that someone else had thought of it before you, and therefore they get the credit. Which makes sense, right? But that still does not stop it all from being confusing and at times wearisome.

In the three cases of Zakaria, Lehrer, and Anderson, plagiarism is a huge issue. I do not believe that the three cases are all the same, and therefore shouldn’t be treated in the same way. Anderson’s case is difficult because it appears that he did not plagiarize on purpose. But at the same time, we don’t know if he was just trying to cover his butt with his statement. However if he plagiarized unintentionally, I think that his book should be continued.  Obviously this time with the proper citations, and Anderson and his editors should be fined. Lehrer and Zakaria are different though. Lehrer blatantly lied and misquoted one of America’s most admired musicians. That was just dumb. I believe that his book should be recalled and he should face the consequences of his actions. The same goes for Zakaria, he lied and said that something was his when it wasn’t and that has its consequences. I think in these two cases the credibility of these men will never be the same. They lost the public’s trust, and probably the public’s respect too. That sounds harsh but unfortunately I think it’s the case.

While citing can be tricky, confusing, and at times wearisome – it is still super important. People should be given proper credit for their hard work. I think this goes for any level but especially within universities. Everyone gets into those moods when they want to slack and don’t want to deal with citing, MLA, and bibliography. But as the three cases listed above demonstrate, plagiarism is not to be taken lightly. It is a serious matter. The principle that should guide us between collaboration, research, and original authorship is simple: if it’s not yours, cite it silly!


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