A Plagiarist and Proud of It!

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26. I was accused of plagiarism for an original work I wrote. I feel honored that someone thought my writing was that good. What do you think?

Strange response: to feel honored because someone thinks you’re dishonest?

First, you need to know why: what specific passages or characteristics caused the reader to believe the copy was plagiarized? If (and only if) you can prove everything that you based on some source was properly cited and documented, then demand to know what passages the accuser believes were plagiarized and also that the person produce the source and highlight the allegedly plagiarized passages.

Second: consider the context. If you’re an undergraduate or graduate college student and some professor decided you must have plagiarized something in a paper, you may be sure the person will tell his or her colleagues, giving you a fine reputation for dishonesty. If (and only if) you can prove your paper was not plagiarized and if the paper was marked down or you were failed out of the course because the professor unjustly believed you plagiarized, file a formal complaint against the person. This will raise he!! and put a block under it, but sometimes that’s what you have to do to defend yourself.

If you’re in a job setting, you probably should go to your boss (or, if the accuser is your boss, to HR or to the boss’s boss) and present your defense. To do this, you’ll have to couch your argument in conciliatory terms, not accusing but saying an unfortunate mistake was made.