Plagiarism depends on the context

Regarding the person my academic friends are starting to call “Claudine GPT”… a guy on Twitter:

Plagiarism if a student does it. ‘Duplicative language’ if a university president. Please someone make it make sense

I asked ChatGPT to sort out the Twitter user’s conundrum. The TL; DR version:

When a student plagiarizes, it is often seen as a failure of this learning process. In contrast, the president of an esteemed institution like Harvard is expected to be well-versed in academic integrity. Plagiarism at such a high level suggests a deliberate breach of ethical standards, which is more serious given their role and influence. … The president of Harvard, as a leader and scholar, holds a position of significant influence and authority. Plagiarism in their scholarly work would severely undermine their credibility, the integrity of their research, and could lead to broader implications for the reputation of the institution they represent. … The president of a university is held to higher standards of accountability due to their leadership position. Plagiarism in their work can lead to severe consequences, including loss of their position, public censure, and damage to their professional career. For a student, consequences are usually confined to academic penalties, such as failing the assignment or course, and potentially facing disciplinary action from the university.

ChatGPT agrees that it is all about context:

4 thoughts on “Plagiarism depends on the context

  1. Awesome – so ChatGPT does know the difference between expectations for a student vs. someone in position of responsibility and influence in an educational institution. Somehow I imagine GPT-5 will have a more ‘nuanced’ answer to accommodate Ms. Gay.

  2. After a little bit of googling, there were at least 3 German ministers, who resigned because they were stripped of their PhD’s for plagiarism: Franziska Giffey
    (didn’t hurt her too much: became major of Berlin after resignation), Annette Schavan
    , and Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
    . Fourth one Ursula von der Leyen
    was accused of plagiarism, but controversially cleared, that didn’t stop her to become (current) President of the European Commission, de facto president of European Union, very democratic but not populist position, since nobody has ever voted for her.
    Here is south-east Europe, we had several ministers accused of plagiarism, they never resigned, evil tongues complained it is because of our Balkan way of doing things. Now we can breathe a sigh of relief, now that we know that our way is not a Balkan way, but the Ivy League Way.

  3. To be a leader, following rules is not enough. You need the confidence of those you lead. I suspect Claudine Gay has lost the confidence of many.

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