Plagiarism. Or: An Honest Mistake.

Dramatis Personae:

Student (hereafter: S)

Professor (hereafter: P)

Setting: The professor’s office. The professor is sitting behind the desk reading through some papers. A knock on the door is heard.

P: Come in please!

S enters the scene.

P: Hello, I’ve been expecting you. Take a seat, please!

S sits down on the other end of the desk, facing the professor.

P: Now, you probably wonder why I required you to come into my office. The reason for this is somewhat serious. I just read through your assignment – was this your first university assignment?

S: Yes.

P: Oh, well, that puts things into perspective. But, there’s simply no easy way of saying this: I noticed some clear patterns of plagiarism in your short essay.

S: Plagiarism? No, that’s not possible! I made a bibliography and referenced all the quotations.

P: That’s true. However, plagiarism goes deeper than that. You see, in this passage here – (P shows S the assignment, pointing at a certain paragraph) – you’ve clearly used Foucault’s ideas of discourse order but you don’t mention his name or works at all in your bibliography.

S: But why is that necessary? His idea was quoted in this other book and I put that one into the bibliography!

P: But those are Foucault’s ideas and if you take them, even if you read them somewhere else, you have to give credit to the original author!

S: Really? But that’s so much trouble.

P: That’s something that you have to put up with in academia. Plagiarism is a serious offence, I cannot stress this enough. This is only a minor assignment but if you keep doing this sort of plagiarism you might end up getting expelled from university. You can even be stripped of your degrees later on if your plagiarism is discovered. So: do not, under any circumstances, repeat this behavior.

S (visibly shaken): Okay… I’m very sorry, I had no idea!

P: I get that it’s hard for newcomers to fully understand the importance of referencing everything. I’m sure you’ll be fine if you just learn from your mistakes. Here – why don’t you take one of my cookies?

S: Thank you. (Takes a cookie and chews on it) They’re very good. Did you bake them yourself?

P: No, they had a basket full of them in the cafeteria, so I figured I’d take a handful to my office!

S: How much did they cost?

P: Oh, I didn’t pay for them they just lay there in a basket and I filled my pockets!

S: I’m pretty sure you have to pay for the cookies in the cafeteria.

P: Oh, nonsense. If you’re a member of the university you can eat there for free!

S: Nope, that’s not how it works! There’s price labels on all the food.

P: But only visitors have to pay that, right? Right? (suddenly, P is starting to realize the mistake) Oh… Oh no! So that’s why the lady at the counter yelled after me when I helped myself to some of their beef jerky yesterday?

S: Well…


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