Although according to Angélil-Carter (2002: 2) ‘plagiarism is a modern Western concept which arose with the introduction of copyright laws in the Eighteenth century’, its avoidance is now a basic plank of respectable academic scholarship. Student plagiarism is currently a hot topic, at least for those who teach and study in British and American universities. There are companies selling both oﬀ-the-shelf and written-to-order term papers and others, like Turnitin.com, oﬀering electronic detection services in an attempt to prevent the use of such essays. In 2002, the Vice Chancellor of Monash University was forced to resign when examples of frequent plagiarism were discovered in his earlier academic work (www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200207/s604549.htm [last accessed 18 August 2009]) and most Anglo-American universities have warnings against and deﬁnitions of plagiarism on their websites. Indeed, Pennycook (1996: 213) notes that in the mid-1990s Stanford University’s documents about plagiarism were reproduced by the University of Oregon, apparently without attribution, and suggests, whimsically, that there is ‘one set of standards for the guardians of truth and knowledge and another for those seeking entry’. At its simplest, plagiarism, or more accurately the type of plagiarism linguists are
competent to deal with, is the theft, or unacknowledged use, of text created by another. Part of the deﬁnition on the University of Birmingham website when Coulthard and Johnson worked there in the late 1990s was as follows – the highlighting in bold is ours as we wish to focus on those phrases.