17 April 2010


Plagiarism is not unique or a monopoly held by any one country or institution; it is universal. However, it is interesting when it occurs in Indonesia for no other reason than it reminds me of this saying that often does the rounds during discussion of Indonesian copyright law; Indonesia does not know copyright but rather the right to copy. This is not nearly as funny as it sounds and is serious. Yet, some people never learn that the best theory when writing academic papers is to err on the side of caution.

The Jakarta Globe is reporting on the most recent alleged act of plagiarism to have occurred in Indonesia.

The cold, hard simple reality is that plagiarism is theft. It is also academic and reputation suicide. It is hard to mistakenly or inadvertently plagiarise the work of another. There might be occasion where the work has been sloppy and lazy, but it is rare that the plagiarism was done inadvertently.

Being back at school and doing a Masters, I have adopted the following approach; "when in doubt, cite!"

The thing about plagiarism is that you will never get away with it. Sooner or later someone somewhere will recognise the work and then you are busted, your reputation in tatters. It is just not worth it. Besides, and it is worth noting, there are dedicated websites and internal univeristy sites that specifically address issues of plagiarism. This in turn makes it easy for lecturers and tutors to discover plagiarism. It has become as simple as typing in a phrase or paragraph of text and clicking send. The text is then cross-matched through relevant databases and bingo, you're busted!

It is just too easy to get caught out now that it is not worth the risk.

When I used to teach, I always made it explicitly clear to my students that plagiarism was theft, it was worse than cheating, and if you got caught you would be history! It was good to see that in the first instance this year at Parahyangan University in Bandung that the academic in question resigned, however, it will be equally interesting to see whether the second instance of plagiarism this year is dealt with in a similar way.

My thoughts on the matter seem pretty clear, don't they?


H. Nizam said...

Hi Rob,
Plagiarims is an act of theft indeed.
I never understand why academicians would do it. Research is a wonderful and challenging way to obtain materials for our writings.

Rob Baiton said...


I have only just posted and you have already left a comment, luar biasa!

Why academics do it? Laziness and stupidity. I can understand that some students might not see the seriousness of academic theft, but academic staff must know better.

They also do it because they think that they can get away with it. However, as I tried to point out, getting away with it is getting harder and harder to do.

So, the real question now is, "why bother?"