April 29, 2008

MEGAN MCARDLE ON PLAGIARISM:

Avoiding minor plagiarism is an occupational hazard of writing. There are only so many ways to say “Trichet told a press conference that monetary policy would continue to be tight for the rest of the year”; if you weren’t at the press conference, you’re going to end up using some close variant on a phrase that probably appeared in half the copy filed about it. To whom do you attribute it, if anyone?

This, however, is not minor, and also, not hard to avoid. I’ve very much enjoyed some of Joseph James Twitchell’s work, and now it’s clear why; he stole large chunks of it from some of my favorite writers, like Virginia Postrel and Grant McCracken.

Some lengthy thoughts of mine on plagiarism, from The Appearance of Impropriety, can be found here.