Editing: How much is too much?
Daniel Cooney – Staff writer
Assumption College’s Academic Honesty Policy defines plagiarism as “Intentionally or knowingly presenting the work of another as one’s own (i.e., without proper acknowledgment of the source). The sole exception to the requirement of acknowledging sources is when the ideas, information, etc. are common knowledge.” This is a good definition, but there are still some loose ends.
It is obviously plagiarism if you write someone else’s paper. It is unclear, however, if editing someone else’s paper could be considered plagiarism. The answer is, at least usually, no.
If done correctly, editing someone else’s paper is not plagiarism. If done incorrectly, however, editing someone else’s paper can be considered plagiarism. The editor should remove uncredited ideas from the paper and not add any original ideas.
An editor should not add new ideas into a piece of writing, but they can clarify and expand on the author’s original thoughts. An editor may also bring in relevant information from another source, so long as that source is given credit.
For example, lets say you are editing a paper about Saint Augustine. You may add in quotes from Saint Augustine to the paper, so long as he is given credit. You may also clarify and expand on the author’s ideas, if you do not change the essence of those ideas
If your friend offers to pay you to write a paper for them, doing so would be academically dishonest. However, if your friend brings you a rough draft and asks you to edit it for them, there should not be any problem with doing this. You may suggest new ideas for the author to investigate themselves, so long as the author does not present any of your ideas as their own. Ideas are free, but that does not mean they are okay to steal.
Daniel Cooney, a senior, studies Computer Science and Economics. He is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.