A recent article by Gerald Nelms, “Why Plagiarism Doesn’t Bother Me At All,” has been circulating on the WPA-L listserv and getting deserved attention for its response to the oftentimes alarmist reactions to referential and source-based academic writing.
Now, plagiarism doesn’t irritate me at all. Student plagiarism doesn’t surprise or shock me. It doesn’t raise my heart rate. And perhaps most surprisingly, it doesn’t make me think any less of the student who has plagiarized. In fact, I now expect plagiarism, I anticipate it, I even provoke it. I want it to happen. And it always does, because I create assignments that virtually require it. Now, you may be reacting to my saying this in the same way that others have in the plagiarism workshops I have facilitated for 15 plus years: with shock.