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I was distracted by bird vocalizations outside my thatched roof hut, grabbed my digital camera to get pictures of the pair of woodpeckers, and when I returned to my computer where I thought I had saved my changes to the material, it had crashed with the wrong draft saved.

I guess my thinking was this person is just trying to understand what my research is about and what I’m proposing to do. And so how is letting him or her know that I got this text from this other paper, how is that going to help him understand better my project or what I’m trying to say?

I did not copy from the suggested source. We just both paraphrased from the cited author in exactly the same way.

As engineers, we do not use quotation marks around copied text.

Quotation marks are only needed for the copied words of “famous people.”

It’s only a proposal. It’s not like it’s a publication. The reviewers are smart enough to know what is my work and what is someone else’s.

My English teacher told me it’s not plagiarism if I change every seventh word.

A rogue British secretary did it.

UD‘s favorite is the engineers one.


And think about it. These are her highly selected best ones. The five thousand or so others she receives every year didn’t make the cut.

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2 Responses to “The National Science Foundation Inspector General Shares her Favorite Plagiarism Excuses.”

  1. Bernard Carroll Says:

    I am going with the one about the English teacher. It opens all kinds of possibilities for parsing: every ninth word? or maybe every eleventh?

  2. theprofessor Says:

    I have heard variants on the high school English teacher one dozens of times, with the number of changes varying from every three to ten words. I have no doubt that most of them have actually heard something like this. In one of our finer local public school districts, the teachers tell the kids that documentation is just a waste of time.

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