Everybody knows it’s wrong to plagiarize. And yet, it still happens. A lot of plagiarism in purposeful, but some is due to uncertainty, and perhaps just a little wishful thinking.
It has been said that to copy from one source is plagiarism, but to copy from three or more sources…that’s called “research”.
Plagiarize, Let no one else’s work evade your eyes
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes
So don’t shade your eyes
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize
Only be sure always to call it please ‘research’.
But is it research? If you copy, you copy. If you copy from three sources, it’s still copying. Even if you reword it all, it’s still copying. It might not legally be plagiarizing, but that’s just the law. The law doesn’t make it original. The bigger question is this: if you just copy from three, ten or 50 sources, is there any point to writing? Why not just refer people to the three, ten or 50 works?
I am never forget the day my first book is published. Every chapter I stole from somewhere else. Index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory.
It has been said that there are no truly original ideas under the sun. To some extent, that is true. Certainly, anything you write will be built largely on ideas that have already been circulating. But if you bring nothing new, nothing original, nothing that comes from you, what is the point of writing it. It is the original thinking that makes your writing worthwhile.
I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky. In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: Plagiarize!
The “research” is not plagiarism if you connect it all together in new ways or remix it to put forward a fresh perspective. Research is good; copycatting is pitiable.
* Lyrics quoted above are from “Lobachevsky” by Tom Lehrer: