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We Need Another Word for Different Types of Plagiarism

Given the recent increased usage of AI tools and the story of the ouster of Harvard President Claudine Gay for plagiarism, it seems we hear about it everywhere. In an op-ed piece all about the word, John McWhorter suggests that perhaps we need a second word to describe instances where ideas aren’t truly stolen:

“The term ‘plagiarism’ is overstretched. Cutting and pasting is not the same as stealing ideas. ‘Plagiarism,’ as a term, should be restricted to the latter. That means we need a new term for the former.”

He goes on to suggest that perhaps cutting and pasting could be that term, used to describe instances where word for word descriptions of elements that are “simple statements of fact” should not be put into the same category as stealing someone’s original ideas or thinking. 

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