The P Word: Why Plagiarism Is a Sin

Here is an important read for our writers – both young and not so young.

The POP Newsletter

All through high school and college English classes, I heard the P word at least once a semester. It was scandalous, a sin in fact. The one commandment of writing, I learned, is “Thou shalt not plagiarize.” As a teenager I had difficulty grasping the concept, but the more I wrote, the more I understood: if you didn’t write it, then don’t pass it off as your own — and changing a word here or there is not enough. This has grown into a passion of mine as an editor.

One small aspect of a copyeditor’s job is to highlight for the author certain material that may require permission (another scary P word). Generally this comes up when an author has chosen to excerpt some material from another source. Although the appropriate credit has been given, the excerpt is long enough or involved enough to warrant asking permission of the…

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