Monday, August 20, 2012

Mode of Plagiarism

On a recent issue on plagiarism, PH senator Tito Sotto was caught flat footed by delivering a speech in the senate, which contained some verbatim works of Sarah Pope's blog on the adverse effects of pills. And to air Sotto's side, his legal counsel, Atty. Hector Villacorta explained the situation and asked for an apology.

Tito Sotto vs. Sarah Pope
Sotto vs. Pope
To recall two years ago, a tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan was charged of plagiarism for his speech and took the full responsibility of such violation after he admitted that he employed two Ateneo students to write his speech. And this issue became the Editorial of Philippine Daily Inquirer posted in PDI online site, April 6, 2010. MVP resigned from his post as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Ateneo de Manila University.

It was pointed out there not only MVP was involved in plagiarism issue, but there were many especially world renowned writers, authors, and poets.

On Sotto's dilemma, however, there were group of PH bloggers who reacted differently. Some of the them couldn't accept such disparaging statement of Sen. Sotto: "Bakit ko naman iko-quote ang blogger? Blogger lang iyon. Ang kino-quote ko si Natasha Campbell-McBride.” (Why should I quote a blogger? She’s just a blogger. I’m quoting Natasha Campbell-McBride.) (source: "Sotto: Why should I quote a blogger?",


PDI cited the definition by the Modern Language Association of the United States which states: "To use another’s ideas or expressions in your writings is to plagiarize. Plagiarism, then, constitutes intellectual theft. …[I]t is a moral and ethical offense rather than a legal one, since most instances of plagiarism fall outside the scope of copyright infringement."

The editorial suggested the following: (1) If you use someone else’s ideas, you should cite the source; (2) If the way you’re using the source is unclear, make it clear; and (3) If you received help from someone in writing the paper (or report or speech), acknowledge it. Even if one is paraphrasing, one is still using someone else’s ideas and arguments, and must cite the original work.

Plagiarism Exists

Following are some important excerpts from the blog of Isagani R. Cruz' Critic-at-Large, 30 September 2008, on plagiarism 101 which cited Michael Harvey's The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing (Hackett, 2003):

He enumerated the following instances where plagiarism is committed:

“1. Quoting material without attribution. The most obvious kind of plagiarism.

“2. Passing off another’s idea as your own, even if it’s been reworded. Changing an original’s wording doesn’t avoid plagiarism. The underlying idea of plagiarism is unacknowledged borrowing of ideas, not specific words.

“3. Imitating a passage’s structure or argument without attribution. Suppose a source presents an assertion and three supporting points. If you adopt that particular structure, including the particular examples or supporting points, you need to provide a citation to the original. This holds even if you substantially revise the wording.

“4. Concealing the extent to which you’ve borrowed from a text or other source. Citing a specific passage in a work doesn’t give you license to draw on the rest of the work without citation. This can be the nastiest kind of plagiarism because it’s so sneaky.”

How to avoid plagiarism

From the PowerPoint Presentation on plagiarism, following are Charles Lipson's suggestions to avoid plagiarism:

"When in doubt, give credit by citing the original source.
If you use an author’s exact words, enclose them in quotation marks and include a citation.

"Tip: When taking notes, enclose all quoted material in big “Q”s and write the page number down.

"If you paraphrase another author, use your own language. Don’t imitate the original. Be sure to include a citation.

"Tip: When paraphrasing, check your work against the original.

"Tip: write down the citation information for every source you take notes on.
"Depending on the source this may include title, author, publisher, volume and issue number, year, page number(s) or URL.

"You will save yourself time and aggravation if you do this when you take your notes."

Now the question is: To plagiarize or or not to plagiarize?



  1. I always cited my sources every time I used their ideas, so it means that I am following the right road, am I right?

  2. It is best to acknowledge or cite the source, esp in blogging. It is important that we not own an idea that we just copied or paraphrase. Hard but we just need to do what we have to do.

  3. My first lesson taught by my daughter, who happens to be a writer by profession herself is including the "source". Every now and then I asked her if it's ok or not. haha... I am no writer by profession that is why I am too careful not to step on other toes without knowing it. :D

  4. I am just a little disappointed to Senator Sotto and to his staffs. Instead of giving a simple apology "nagyabang pa sila" at nagsabing "blogger lang Naman". The bottom line here is the copying he do. technically he should acknowledge Sarah or if he doesn't want to quote his source/the author let his staff write original speech for him. Mag-isip sila ng original from their full of pride mind at sayang ang pinasasahod ng bayan sa kanila. just my cents

  5. Hehehe although I am not Sarah Pope but I am a blogger and a voter as well. This give me an idea who to vote and not on the next election. :)

  6. I hope Senator Sotto doesn't get elected in the next election. It's one thing to plagiarize and its another thing to undermine a group in the society.

  7. The situation with Sen. Sotto's supposed plagiarism is very much like the case of a professor from Arizona State University who was accused for having a speech that contained exact words from a published article, and never mentioned who was the source that was published in US Today (see In this situation, the professor by the name of Matthew Whitaker, was accused of using exact paragraphs pulled word for word from Wikipedia and other sources and used on six books published he published as well in one speech that he gave during a hearing about Arizona's immigration laws.

    After an investigation done by the university, they ruled that he didn't commit any form of plagiarism. Why? Because in a letter that he gave to the university to explain this, he mentioned that he gave the outline to a freelance editor he hired to write the content of the articles and speech for him. When these were submitted to him, he didn't know that the content was pulled word for word from Wikipedia and other online sources.

    In the same case, Sen. Sotto did not write his speech. It was his staff, led by Atty. Hector A. Villacorta, who wrote the speech (see So, if anyone should be held accountable for plagiarizing the blog, it is whoever was that staff member assigned to write the speech for the Sen. Sotto.

  8. it will always root to sotto's incompetent staff. what sad about this he refers to bloggers as people of less importance ... that's really hurting ..

  9. It is always important to acknowledge/cite someone else's work, to avoid this kind of issues. Only lazy people do this -- those who are lazy to do their own homework. Such a shame that Sotto's a senator. :/

  10. The more we deny responsibility for the wrong things we do, the nastier it gets for everyone concerned so it is always best to own up to a fault especially when it is so obvious.

  11. Undermining the bloggers made this issue more controversial.He should just have admitted it just like what MVP did and said his sorry.

  12. *He should have just taken full responsibility rather* (not admitted)


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