Plagiarism and Ethics

According to Wikipedia, "plagiarism is the passing off of another person's work as one's own, whether deliberate or accidental. Accidental plagiarism is usually the result of poor citation or referencing or of poor preparation or a misunderstanding of plagiarism. Deliberate plagiarism is an attempt to claim another person's work as one's own" (Wikipedia: Simply put, it is a dishonest act, and therefore unethical.

It had never happened to me, but I fully understand now how frustrating is to be a victim of plagiarism. Based on the idea we started here - my team and I - on the structured approach to problem resolution that we named "Problem Resolution Framework," other people in another company decided to copy-and-paste some of the slides of our presentation - which were not public available here, don't know yet how they put their hands on them - and even worse, stole the whole idea of the framework. Why people do that?

People should be nice to people, and they should be ethical and honest. There is no exception to this golden rule. When people decide to appropriate from other person's ideas and sell them as theirs, it demonstrates lack of integrity, and even worse, because if the material is copyrighted, it is actually a federal crime.

Sometimes people think that changing some words is enough - well, it is not. Especially when whole slides are copied and pasted. Plagiarism is also about ideas. I have nothing against people using good ideas and building new things over them, either by improving or adapting to different fields or different needs. But every time it is done, the credit must be given to the originator of that idea - making a citation or reference to the material that is being used as source. That is the minimum expected so it is clear that plagiarism is not in place.

It is not a huge deal; actually, I hope everyone can make good use of this good idea that can help to structure problem scoping and resolution. I just think that people should give the credit to the correct sources.