the lightning book

Took the words right out of my monograph


Write what you know, they said!

I know plagiarism!

So I wrote this short story in Apex Magazine (which is called Not Smart, Not Clever).

I’ve spent the last twenty years in universities, studying and teaching. Plagiarism is my shadow. It annihilates everything that study or teaching attempts, so I’m in permanent horrified orbit around it. I see this story as a companion piece to the anti-plagiarism guidelines I’ve written, elsewhere.
There’s very little good research on why people plagiarise (although some academics offer confident definitions: first-years who do it are clueless angels, final-years are evil). I’d love to research it myself, but it’s incredibly hard to collect data (‘Hello! Want to have a chat about why you cheat so much?’). Many institutions distinguish between wilful and accidental plagiarism in their penalties, so a student is wise to go to their grave swearing their innocence. And the tech-based arms race continues.

I feel I should, like students must, sign a disclaimer:

Apex Magazine: I promise I haven’t plagiarised this story. Although I did steal the title off Tom Armitage, who is both smart and clever.

My current employers, and the awarding bodies for my qualifications: I haven’t plagiarised anything else either. What do you take me for? Have a little trust.

Have some T.S. Eliot, too.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom


Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long