Document Type



Despite the abundance of literature on the topic, there is very little that can be called “common” about our common sense understanding of plagiarism. Taking a closer look at the history, rhetorical uses, and cultural practices of plagiarism, this essay reveals that this concept is multiple and heterogeneous, riddled with contradictions and blind spots. As a result, the article argues the overlapping, inter-related, yet distinct discourses of plagiarism that circulate within the academy can be usefully described as a “complex system.” In positing plagiarism as a complex system, this article has several goals. First, it shows how singular approaches to plagiarism are ultimately insufficient and examines the ways in which an interdisciplinary consideration of the issues can shed light on the problem. Next, it uses the issue of plagiarism to examine the rubric of “complexity” itself, suggesting ways that recent uses of the term within interdisciplinary research might be modified and extended. Finally, it uses this enhanced, integrative understanding of plagiarism to make pragmatic proposals for both pedagogy and policy.


Arts and Humanities


This article is the publisher's version, originally published the Association for Integrative Studies by in Issues in Integrative Studies, No. 21, 2003, pp. 74-97.

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