Reimagining Academic Writing in Academia 4.0 to De‑incentivise Plagiarism


  • Anthony Stacey



Plagiarism, Ghost writing, Common knowledge, Attribution, Normal science, Paradigm shift, Literature review


Academic research and scientific publication are being influenced irreversibly by what is referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. The exponential growth in the number of research publications continues, information and communication technology (including artificial intelligence) is making available research data and tools with unprecedented capabilities, and online open access to publications has enabled greater and more rapid access by other researchers. Changes of research practice and the behaviour of researchers and authors as a result of these developments are evident, and are challenging the criteria, norms and standards by which the quality and integrity of research has historically been judged. The manner in which prior research is being accessed, reproduced, applied and acknowledged is an example of such changes. In academia, the presentation of the ideas or writings of another without them being explicitly attributed to the original source has always been regarded as plagiarism and considered serious misconduct. Yet when such ideas and writings are freely available and in the public domain, they arguably fulfil the criteria for being considered common knowledge which don’t necessarily need to be referenced. This article presents examples of acceptable replication and reuse of the work of others, and examples of how plagiarism is manifesting differently because of information and communication technologies, including plagiarism software. It is argued that while paraphrasing previous authors result from understanding and applying their prior research, paraphrasing may simply be a grammatical or mechanistic process that does not attest understanding and application. It is provocatively suggested that current norms and standards of academic writing, including referencing, may no longer be appropriate. Relatively modest amendments to academic conventions and assumptions are proposed that could lead to a new paradigm of more efficient research and scientific publications, acknowledging that this would place greater burden of responsibility on the users, reviewers, editors and examiners of research to be familiar with extant knowledge.



1 Jan 2020