Oracle Tips by Burleson
Chapter 6 -
Plagiarism and the
Plagiarism, by its very definition, cannot be
an accident, and it is an intentional act of theft. No amount of
excuses or pleas of ignorance can exonerate a plagiarist from their
The Semantics of Plagiarism
The act of plagiarism involves the stealing of
“original work and thought.” Plagiarism can be subtle, and many
students believe that they can change one or two words in a sentence
and avoid detection. So, how does one detect the work of the sly
plagiarist who replaces words with synonyms and alters the sentence
Synonyms – A reference to “house” could be
changed to dwelling, abode, apartment, etc.
Word Stems – A reference to “house” could be
changed to housing, home, etc.
Semantic Structure – Adverbs and adjectives can
be replaced and altered to conceal the crime.
Fortunately, despite these attempts to hide
their wrongdoing, the plagiarist can still be detected thanks to
sophisticated web tools and the world of applied Artificial
Intelligence. Sophisticated software programs, such as those found
at Turnitin.com, employ pattern-matching algorithms that
glean the meaning of each phrase and compare it to existing works on
Software such as the Princeton Wordnet provides hierarchies
of synonyms that can replicate the plagiarist’s attempts to conceal
their theft. This author worked extensively with semantic networks
and they can often lead to surprising results.
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