Local plagiarisms

Erik Borg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)
    35 Downloads (Pure)


    Plagiarism and collusion are significant issues for most lecturers whatever their discipline, and to universities and the higher education sector. Universities respond to these issues by developing institutional definitions of plagiarism, which are intended to apply to all instances of plagiarism and collusion. This article first suggests that plagiarism and collusion are related instances of the desirable phenomenon of intertextuality, but which are defined as transgressive, that is, intertextuality that crosses a boundary defining relationships that are inappropriate in a specific context. The article then goes on to show, through interviews with lecturers in a variety of disciplines, that lecturers’ interpretations of inappropriate or transgressive intertextuality vary for reasons including the expectations and practices of the discipline. The article suggests that transgressive intertextuality needs to be defined according to the disciplinary expectations and that a single institutional definition may be inadequate to defining varying disciplinary perspectives
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)415-426
    JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

    Bibliographical note

    Author's note: This paper investigates the current understanding of forms of academic misconduct by developing a conceptual framework that links plagiarism and collusion under the category of transgressive intertextuality. This conceptual framework suggests that both plagiarism and collusion are forms of intertextuality. Intertextuality, which is both the echoing other’s language and ideas in one’s own language and the dialogic relationship between texts, is inevitable and desirable in academic work. However, different disciplinary communities create different lines demarcating when intertextuality becomes transgressive. Through interviews, this paper shows how members of different academic disciplinary communities navigate and express to students their understanding of these lines of demarcation.

    This paper uses semi-structured interviews with academics across a university to generate the data on which the study is based, while grounded analysis is used to develop the underlying theory. The argument is based on a wide-ranging study of the literature on plagiarism, and links disparate strands of linguistic analysis to develop the concept of transgressive intertextuality.

    The paper connects plagiarism and collusion, which are usually separated under an overarching framework, but suggests then that these forms of intertextuality are constructed differently depending on the disciplinary community that determines when intertextuality becomes transgressive.

    Citation or other Indicators
    This paper has been among the top ten (currently 6th) Most Read articles in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education since at least November, 2011. This Taylor and Francis journal is included in the Social Science Citation Index and has an impact factor of 0.734.
    This is an electronic version of an article published in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education Vol 34 (4): 415-426. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a794013432~frm=titlelink


    • intertextuality
    • plagiarism
    • collusion
    • authorship
    • lecturers' perceptions


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