Ethics and Information Technology 6 (4):271-277 (2004)
AbstractPlagiarism is the misuse of and failure to acknowledge source materials. This paper questions common responses to the apparent increase in plagiarism by students. Internet plagiarism occurs in a context – using the Internet as an information tool – where the relevant norms are far from obvious and models of virtue are difficult to identify and perhaps impossible to find. Ethical responses to the pervasiveness of Internet-enhanced plagiarism require a reorientation of perspective on both plagiarism and the Internet as a knowledge tool. Technological strategies to “catch the cheats” send a “don’t get caught” message to students and direct the limited resources of academic institutions to a battle that cannot be won. More importantly, it is not the right battleground. Rather than characterising Internet-enabled plagiarism as a problem generated and solvable by emerging technologies, we argue that there is a more urgent need to build the background conditions that enable and sustain ethical relationships and academic virtues: to nurture an intellectual community.
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