Writes and wrongs 1

November 11, 2005

Having spent the best part of Friday afternoon documenting the full extent of internet plagiarism in a student's work for a disciplinary committee, I was dismayed to read that William Leahy believes that universities should teach plagiarism as a skill (Soapbox, November 4).

He is right that graduates need to know how to use other people's work, but we need to teach them how to do that honestly. Asking students to be honest about their sources is hardly an "inappropriate demand". Plagiarism is theft. By passing off someone else's work as their own, a student is cheating their fellow students and debasing the value of their degrees and the good name of their institution. Expulsion is an appropriate penalty.

Jonathan Silvertown
Open University

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