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Understand plagiarism with one flowchart

Plagiarism seems to suddenly be everywhere. This year alone, accusations have been flung at the New York Times' Carol Vogel, Buzzfeed's Benny Johnson (now at National Review), and CNN's Fareed Zakaria. In Zakaria's case, the accusations keep on coming, with blog Our Bad Media this week piling more instances onto their previous accusations.

But not everyone agrees on whether all of these instances were, in fact, plagiarism. The Washington Post's Gene Weingarten, for example, declared that Johnson's "crappy listicles" weren't plagiarism because that charge should be reserved for much bigger journalistic crimes.

Fortunately, the people at Poynter, a journalism school based in St. Petersburg, have put together a handy flow chart explaining what exactly constitutes plagiarism, as well as its lesser iterations (self-plagiarism and patch-writing).

Flowchart plagiarism

Source: Poynter Institute

Of course, even this isn't a taxonomy that everyone would fully agree with. As Poynter wrote after science writer Jonah Lehrer's self-plagiarizing scandal, there are journalists who argue that "self-plagiarism," while perhaps a lazy writing strategy, doesn't deserve the tag "plagiarism."

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