In a recent finding by the CCMA the Commission upheld the dismissal of a university senior academic who had copied and pasted blocks of borrowed material into a published article without acknowledging the sources. He was also accused of not supervising his students to ensure that they had not copied the work of others and for not advising students on referencing borrowed work and how to avoid plagiarism. His students’ dissertations had contained large blocks of unacknowledged material which had been detected by external examiners.

The academic had violated the university’s plagiarism policy. His defence that this was the result of an “oversight” was rejected.

Cutting and pasting has been easy till now and the use of generative AI such as ChatGPT makes it even easier to plagiarise material or use material not composed by using our own skills. If you are going to borrow material or borrow the thoughts of others or of AI, make sure you acknowledge the source when it is cut and paste or using blocks of such material. Your job and your reputation may be at stake.

National Tertiary Education Union obo Ngwane / Durban University of Technology