I asked a similar question the other day about plagiarism, but I have a slightly different case. Would you consider this plagiarism?

A source paper (Y) has text which refers to A and B and C. Another author, X, copies a few sentences almost verbatim (a sentence of 20 or so words) and refers to it as (A, B, and Y).

So in Y, we have: Sentence 1 (A and B). Sentence 2 (C).

This is reproduced by X as: Sentence 1 (A, B, and Y). Sentence 2 (C and Y).

Is this plagiarism?

  • 2
    yes, copy-paste without "" is plagiarism. I advise write the ideas in your own words and use citations properly. The plagiarism would hunt you in your academic career for ever, spending a little more time to find your proper words is advisable.
    – Nikey Mike
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 13:12
  • 1
    Thanks a lot. To make it clear. I am involved in a case whereby I have noticed a senior colleague systematically plagiarising. It's everywhere througout their work. However, I strongly suspect if I report it, there will be a heavy incentive to cover things and up and say "well, that's not good, could be better, but it's not plagiarism". Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 13:58
  • @MikeyMike citation style may vary though. Some fields like computer science and math use brackets [] and some information are considered so very basic that it does not need quotation. What you said is true, just wanted to add that.
    – John
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


As already stated in the comments, this is indeed plagiarism. The additional information provided in the comments makes it more interesting, however.

Plagiarism is a form of scientific misconduct. Being accused of this is quite serious, as it covers such diverse acts as fabricating data and as here, having bad referencing practices. There is a substantial difference between these, and while both practices should be dealt with, perhaps discretion is advisable in a case like this? After all, a reference was made, which makes it a less serious case of plagiarism. My experience with this is limited, but have you considered that reporting it may also reflect badly on you, as it is a comparatively minor malpractice? Perhaps you should run it by any form of local ethics committee you might have as an anonymous case?

  • 1
    Thanks. I have definitely considered that if I report it, it will reflect badly on me, something that is of real concern to me. A further problem we face is that there is no local ethics committee - I work at an institute monumentally ill-prepared to handle such questions. I can add that I have uncovered far worse than this single example, where there are many cases of uncited copying verbatim, copying without reference and paraphrasing, etc Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:51
  • You could ask them for advice on how to use proper referencing in a case like this, and when they answer add a "That's helpful, thank you. Should I have quotation marks around any text I copy though?"... Or perhaps something more clever - my point being, if in any way you can change their behaviour that seems like a better solution than reporting it. That's my opinion, anyway.
    – ipoga
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:56
  • I had not seen your edit - in the case of verbatim copies without reference, it is a far more serious case. And with several examples hereof it sounds like more of a case. It's hard to tell without the evidence in front of me, but if I were able to find just 2-3 cases of unquoted, unreferenced text-copying beyond that of "perfunctory" phrases I would report it, ie. the copied text should have real content and not just function as a phrase for getting to the next section e.g.
    – ipoga
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 15:01
  • Thanks a lot. There's definitely a real pattern in their work that should be addressed. I just don't envy being the person who may have to put their head above the parapet Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 15:19
  • @user1778351: This is not an answer to your question as stated, but if reporting plariarism will bring you harm, then you ought to get out of that institution if you can. This is independent of whether you report or not! It may be better, depending on your ethical principles, to wait until you are out before you spill the beans.
    – user21820
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 11:59

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