The world of research is frequently shaken by allegations of plagiarism. These are cases where an author publishes a work which turns out to contain something which the author has taken from others without an adequate reference.

Plagiarism can have major and unfortunate consequences for those involved. As a researcher you can ultimately be demoted or lose your job. It is therefore vital for researchers to know what plagiarism is and where not to cross the line when it comes to using work created by others.

What is plagiarism?

The word plagiarism can be traced back to a poem by the Roman epigram poet, Martial (approx. 40-104 AD). Martial compared his epigrams with freed slaves and the imitation of them with ”plagium”. That was the crime of kidnapping people and selling them into slavery. You can read more about the concept of plagiarism (in Danish) in Morten Rosenmeier’s guide to copyright, Ophavsret for begyndere – en bog til ikke-jurister, chapter 2.

The modern understanding of plagiarism is to take something that others have created and publish it as if you had made it yourself. For example it is  plagiarism if a researcher publishes a book, and then it turns out that some of the pages have been copied from another book without a clear reference to the source. Another example is to publish a scientific paper which appears as if it is based on your own research, but which is actually stealing other people’s research.

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Why is plagiarism not acceptable?

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