Writing | Editing | Reading

How Do You Plagiarize?

Lynn Dorman, Ph.D.; J.D.
3 min readSep 15, 2020

Let Me Count The Many New Ways

First I’ll say U.G.H.

Now that the sour taste is out of my mouth I can continue.

Over the years I have been a full-time and part-time professor at various universities, colleges, and community colleges — in person and online.

I have read a lot of student papers over that lifetime. I have seen many plagiarized papers over that lifetime. I got good at spotting them. When you're teaching and reading you get a feel for how a student writes and that helps when you see writing that is totally out of character.

A lot of that teaching was pre-Internet and it was hard to spot plagiarized material early in a semester as you had no idea yet of anyone’s writing style. But as a semester went on, and a student’s style changed from paper to paper — well questions were raised.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Sometimes students just paid someone to write their papers or they borrowed a paper from someone who had taken a course like mine — hoping that it would never be noticed. One student even copied a paper from a student who HAD taken my course a few years prior. Back then, I kept papers for a longish time because students ask for recommendations…Oops!

I am sure that plagiarized material went past my eyes. It's not hard to do. A good plagiarist can get something past most anyone. Even artworks are copied and sold as originals!

But plagiarism soon catches up with even the best of plagiarists.

In the few weeks since becoming an editor here at Illumination — I have seen so many creative ways of plagiarizing — even I am amazed — and it takes a lot to amaze me.

Am I going to tell you what people do? No, because this is not an exercise in teaching you how to plagiarize.



Lynn Dorman, Ph.D.; J.D.

NYC native, snarky, opinionated octogenarian, educated [with PhD and JD]- I write, I talk, I think, I opine, I teach — and will do so until I can’t.