Current Perspective: ‘I’ve heard it all before’

In my five years as a professor at AACC, I’ve heard lots of excuses for plagiarism. Here are some of them, along with my reactions.

I waited too long to start the essay. (Agreed!)

I didn’t have time. (You did, but…)

No one told me not to. (First, yes I did. Second, why would this be OK?)

They said it better than I ever could. (At 19, you’re making that call?)

I’m insulted you looked for plagiarism in my paper. (You didn’t even change the font!)

Why does this keep happening to me? (Um…)

How many things can you really say about “Hamlet?” (A lot, actually.)

Stephen Greenblatt must have plagiarized me. (In 1980? You weren’t alive.)
Everyone else does it. (No, they don’t.)
Well, the guy in the front row does it. (Thanks for the heads up!)
I didn’t want to read the book. (I don’t care.)
My (enter choice of parent/sibling/girl/boyfriend/cat) wrote it and she/he/it must have done it. (OK, now we’ve got two problems.)
Someone stole my computer and put plagiarism in the paper. Can you believe that? (No, I really can’t.)
These excuses work about as well as the plagiarism originally did, which is to say, not terribly well.
The issue isn’t plagiarism; it’s integrity. Don’t take what’s not yours. If you do, at least be honest about what is not yours.
Professor Tim May is an English professor at AACC.