Google Books may be a Danger to Plagiarists!

“dcr” at dcr Blogs left a comment on my previous article that left me wondering about the original source of the quote I used.

While I knew where I got it, I didn’t know the original publication, so I used the internet to track down what I believe to be the original source. What’s ironic was that the original article, written in 1995, was about how it’s unlikely that the internet will change the world.

It was an interesting search, but it turned up something that was quite surprising.

I believe I found an instance of plagiarism in a published work. It appears that the authors of a book under revision in 1995-1996 lifted two sentences of an article by Clifford Stoll that had been published in Newsweek on February 27, 1995.

When I used a phrase from the quotation at the beginning of my article to search on Google, one of the first hits was from Google Books for a book called “The New Positioning: The Latest on the World’s #1 Business Strategy.” When that came up, I began to wonder if I had the quote correctly attributed.

By using variations of the search term, I found several more instances referring to Clifford Stoll as the author, including one that identified the original publication and the date. As well, virtually all of these references, including my original post, predated the advent of Google Books.

This was a very interesting search exercise — with unanticipated results — and it demonstrates that the internet of today has moved far beyond the internet of Clifford Stoll’s 1995 article.

Comments on “Google Books may be a Danger to Plagiarists!”

August 9, 2007

dcr @ 2:18 pm

It’s true! Google is useful for checking for possible plagiarism. On one of my websites, I have used freelance writers to write articles for me. I take parts of the articles and run them through Google to see if there are any matches. Not a foolproof method, but I did catch one writer red-handed. Said she used the website I found as a source, and some of their content ended up in her article by accident. Um, okay…

Michael Fultz @ 11:42 pm

I love Google for research and the like. I can see how it would be harder on would-be plagiarists to operate. If you’re a fake, it will be found out in 3 seconds. Encouraging news for all of us who would like to start writing for a living someday.

August 10, 2007

Jonathan Bailey @ 4:48 pm

Google has always been a Godsend for detecting plagiarism, all that is happening now is that it is moving into the offline world as well.

The results will be very interesting to say the least…


A lost Exit78 post , recovered from Internet Archive WayBackMachine; March 2011


blogging, internet, plagiarism, search engines, Uncategorized
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