Plagiarism of Personal Statement?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

JohnMadden

Political Refugee
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
387
Reaction score
3

Members don't see this ad.
Last year, I asked a friend of mine to read over my personal statement for my AMCAS application. It's not that she's a great writer, but I wanted to get her feedback because I respected her opinion.

Recently, she asked me to read over her personal statement for law school. I was adding my comments into the document until I came to the last paragraph. I was then shocked to realize that she took three sentences from my AMCAS personal statement and basically changed "medicine" to "law" and "physician to lawyer." It's pretty clear, at least to me, that the part she took from me does not mesh with the overall quality of the statement.

What would you do in this situation?
 

drhannibal

Sup
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2004
Messages
80
Reaction score
0
Last year, I asked a friend of mine to read over my personal statement for my AMCAS application. It's not that she's a great writer, but I wanted to get her feedback because I respected her opinion.

Recently, she asked me to read over her personal statement for law school. I was adding my comments into the document until I came to the last paragraph. I was then shocked to realize that she took three sentences from my AMCAS personal statement and basically changed "medicine" to "law" and "physician to lawyer." It's pretty clear, at least to me, that the part she took from me does not mesh with the overall quality of the statement.

What would you do in this situation?

Nothing. It is three sentences. She is your friend. The last paragraphs of PS are usually pretty generic conclusions. Chill out.
 

JohnMadden

Political Refugee
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
387
Reaction score
3
I'm not going to report her or anything. I just thought it was odd that she asked me to read over her statement w/o telling me "Hey, I borrowed a few lines from you" or something...
 

drhannibal

Sup
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2004
Messages
80
Reaction score
0
I'm not going to report her or anything. I just thought it was odd that she asked me to read over her statement w/o telling me "Hey, I borrowed a few lines from you" or something...

Oh ok. I thought you were considering reporting her or something ridiculous like that. Yea, it is pretty weird that she didn't mention it, but there really isn't much you can do about it. It isn't like what she did was absolutely terrible so I think you gotta just forget about it or else it will just be awkward if you bring it up.
 

Nickelpennykid

New Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Messages
364
Reaction score
0
Be happy that she thought enough of your abilities as a writer to steal from you. Its not like shes applying to medical school with you.
 

spicedmanna

Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2006
Messages
5,820
Reaction score
17
If it were an original idea that was copied, which is pretty rare, then I'd be a little less acommodating. However, I agree with the above. Just let it go.

On the other hand, if you want to play games, tell her you won't sue if she agrees to consult and help you get rid of your future malpractice lawsuits. It's always good to have an unscrupulous lawyer on your side. :smuggrin:

I kid, of course. :)
 

coffeebythelake

I'm not a word-mincer
Lifetime Donor
15+ Year Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2006
Messages
4,342
Reaction score
5,109
Be happy that she thought enough of your abilities as a writer to steal from you. Its not like shes applying to medical school with you.
I wouldn't consider plagiarism a form of flattery, more like they are too lazy to do the work themselves. If what you said was true, people would be encouraging it not villanizing it.
 

Meli308314

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Messages
51
Reaction score
1
She did you a favor by reading over your personal statement. I would personally be flattered she thought the sentences she stole were worth putting in her own essay. It is slightly lazy of her to use the exact same sentences you did, but I'm afraid laziness is sometimes simply part of human nature.
 

melissainsd

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2006
Messages
794
Reaction score
12
I would change the words "law" and "lawyer" back to "medicine" and Physician". :smuggrin:
 

BellyDancingDoc

Rump Shaker
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
491
Reaction score
7
I would change the words "law" and "lawyer" back to "medicine" and Physician". :smuggrin:

:smuggrin: :smuggrin: :smuggrin:

But seriously, I'm surprised that most respondents would just let it pass. While this not the most egregious ethics violation in the world, it's also not exactly the kind of behavior I'd want to base a friendship around.

If I were the OP, I'd say, "Most of your PS looks pretty good, but the writing style changes suddenly at the end. (Next sentence spoken as sudden thought) In fact, this kind of reminds me of the med school personal statement I wrote a year ago...." and let your voice trail off.

That should probably do it.
 

Meli308314

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Messages
51
Reaction score
1
:smuggrin: :smuggrin: :smuggrin:

But seriously, I'm surprised that most respondents would just let it pass. While this not the most egregious ethics violation in the world, it's also not exactly the kind of behavior I'd want to base a friendship around.

If I were the OP, I'd say, "Most of your PS looks pretty good, but the writing style changes suddenly at the end. (Next sentence spoken as sudden thought) In fact, this kind of reminds me of the med school personal statement I wrote a year ago...." and let your voice trail off.

That should probably do it.
It seems awfully petty to even bring it up. It's not hurting the OP in any way that their friend plagiarized. There's no reason to jeopardize the friendship over something this trivial.
 

BellyDancingDoc

Rump Shaker
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
491
Reaction score
7
It seems awfully petty to even bring it up. It's not hurting the OP in any way that their friend plagiarized. There's no reason to jeopardize the friendship over something this trivial.

Petty?! For goodness' sakes, the friend took advantage of the OP's trust in her ability to advise him and "borrowed" a few of his thoughts. That behavior is petty.

Like I said, it's not like I'd report this to her law schools, involve mutual friends, or otherwise make a huge deal out of it. But "borrowing" someone else's intellectual property is just not a very nice thing to do. If a friend did this to me, I'd probably continue the friendship... but I'd never quite look at her in the same way again.
 
Members don't see this ad :)

melissainsd

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2006
Messages
794
Reaction score
12
Petty?! For goodness' sakes, the friend took advantage of the OP's trust in her ability to advise him and "borrowed" a few of his thoughts. That behavior is petty.

Like I said, it's not like I'd report this to her law schools, involve mutual friends, or otherwise make a huge deal out of it. But "borrowing" someone else's intellectual property is just not a very nice thing to do. If a friend did this to me, I'd probably continue the friendship... but I'd never quite look at her in the same way again.

I agree. I hate it when people try to cheat off me.
 

chable

A sphincter says, "what."
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2006
Messages
259
Reaction score
5
There's no need to try to embarrass the plagiarizing friend. However, I do think that you should somehow try to mention what you noticed. Maybe even make a joke about it and just laugh it off together.

But you need to get it across with her. Think about it. What if this is only the beginning? You need to protect yourself NOW. First your personal statement's last 3 sentences, next thing you know it, she steals your girlfriend. Some people will stop at nothing once they've had a taste of the things they can take advantage of.
 

Meli308314

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Messages
51
Reaction score
1
I agree it's not a very nice thing to do. All I was saying is it's not going to help anyone in the situation to make a big deal out of it.
 

mintendo

Full Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2005
Messages
502
Reaction score
1
She did you a favor by reading over your personal statement. I would personally be flattered she thought the sentences she stole were worth putting in her own essay. It is slightly lazy of her to use the exact same sentences you did, but I'm afraid laziness is sometimes simply part of human nature.


What a bunch of BS. The OP should be flattered?

Slightly lazy? How much lazier can you get?

And if it's human nature it's ok?
 

musiclink213

My room is a mess
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2003
Messages
3,479
Reaction score
3
I think some of ya'll need to chill out. It's 3 sentences in an essay that's how long? Sure it would have been nice if she asked at first, but I personally don't see it as that big a deal. Nothing to get all caught up in.
 

spicedmanna

Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2006
Messages
5,820
Reaction score
17
Petty?! For goodness' sakes, the friend took advantage of the OP's trust in her ability to advise him and "borrowed" a few of his thoughts. That behavior is petty.

Like I said, it's not like I'd report this to her law schools, involve mutual friends, or otherwise make a huge deal out of it. But "borrowing" someone else's intellectual property is just not a very nice thing to do. If a friend did this to me, I'd probably continue the friendship... but I'd never quite look at her in the same way again.

On a more serious note, I wouldn't. They would cease to be my friend in any realistic sense until they chose to come back into integrity. Friendship is based on trust, as is the lawyer-client relationship. They would need to demonstrate a change in their commitments around "borrowing" material without first checking with the original owner for permission. Small problem now, big problem later. I'd rather be the one to provide the gentle feedback than have her be smacked down by the barr association, or worse later, for future behavior along these lines. But I wouldn't be too serious in offering it though; I'd just be my loving self with a word of advice and my authentic reaction. :)
 

BellyDancingDoc

Rump Shaker
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
491
Reaction score
7
They would need to demonstrate a change in their commitments around "borrowing" material without first checking with the original owner for permission. Small problem now, big problem later. I'd rather be the one to provide the gentle feedback than have her be smacked down by the barr association, or worse later, for future behavior along these lines.

You make a very good point, spicedmanna. :thumbup:
 
S

supernareg

LOL!!!!! "Does she put out" hahahah


on the other hand, you guys (that are saying what she did is wrong) are completely full of **** and should walk off the face of the world. who gives a flyinF guck that she took 3 sentances? she's ur friend, if anything, help em. man, where i grew up, 80% of the "virgin mary's" on this board would not make it past high school.
 
Members don't see this ad :)

spicedmanna

Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2006
Messages
5,820
Reaction score
17
on the other hand, you guys (that are saying what she did is wrong) are completely full of **** and should walk off the face of the world. who gives a flyinF guck that she took 3 sentances? she's ur friend, if anything, help em. man, where i grew up, 80% of the "virgin mary's" on this board would not make it past high school.

So, what you are saying is that you would rather have associates who are unscrupulous, who violate your trust, and who wouldn't hesitate to rip you off?

If so, you just might be a gunner. :laugh:
 

BellyDancingDoc

Rump Shaker
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
491
Reaction score
7
i'm not familiar with this expression. what does it mean?

Are you serious, eikenhein? If so, that's really cute. :) Ah, you crazy Canadians.

Anyway, the extent to which a young lady will "put out" refers her generosity in sharing the more intimate areas of her body with the men and/or women around her. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
 

spicedmanna

Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2006
Messages
5,820
Reaction score
17
Anyway, the extent to which a young lady will "put out" refers her generosity in sharing the more intimate areas of her body with the men and/or women around her. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Wow. That's so tastefully stated, it's down right sexy. :thumbup:
 

narc

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
May 26, 2006
Messages
1,020
Reaction score
1
Just let it go. That is speaking from experience.
 

ScroogeMcTroll

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
71
Reaction score
0
Ethics aside, if she's not comfortable enough with her own writing to create an original personal statement, she is going to flounder in law school and more importantly be a very mediocre lawyer.
 

OncoCaP

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2006
Messages
2,015
Reaction score
3
It depends on how good a friend she was. If she was a great friend and had a good sense of humor I might crack a joke like "what was wrong with the rest of my personal statement that you chose not to use it?" If it was more of an acquaintance or if I wasn't sure how she would take a joke like that, I would just let it go. To make an issue of this would seem petty to me. It's not that what she did was right ... it's just that I wouldn't blow a friendship over something like that. If you expect all your friends to be perfect, you'll be a pretty lonely person in life.
 

Nickelpennykid

New Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Messages
364
Reaction score
0
Ethics aside, if she's not comfortable enough with her own writing to create an original personal statement, she is going to flounder in law school and more importantly be a very mediocre lawyer.

Because she stole 3 lines from a personal statment, she is now going to flounder in law school and be a mediocre lawyer? Im not saying it is the most honest thing to do, but you are out of your mind if you really think that based on the situation. VERY successful writers have plagerized to a far greater extent. Hell, a presidential candidate this year had to step down in '88 for plagerizing part of a speech...he was still re-elected to the senate. You would not say that if the person had asked for permission to use the lines word for word.
 

musiclink213

My room is a mess
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2003
Messages
3,479
Reaction score
3
This whole thing of "It's fine, let it go" "No, call her out! She has now screwed up her life by stealing 3 sentences" is actually somewhat amusing. As my dad would say to those who say to bring it up that it was wrong and not worht being friends with this person, well my dad would say "You would make a very good communist."
 

spicedmanna

Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2006
Messages
5,820
Reaction score
17
This whole thing of "It's fine, let it go" "No, call her out! She has now screwed up her life by stealing 3 sentences" is actually somewhat amusing. As my dad would say to those who say to bring it up that it was wrong and not worht being friends with this person, well my dad would say "You would make a very good communist."

I find that remark a triffle offensive, only because my family suffered and survived in the travesty that was Communist China before moving onto freer shores. That has nothing to do with you, however, it's only what it triggered in me at first.

Regarding the content of your message, if you care about someone, wouldn't you care enough to give them direct feedback on the effect of their choices? I'm not saying to be harsh, or overly moralistic, I'm just saying to be authentic and loving. This world is so full of disgenuinous people already, we don't need more examples of it. Of course if it truly isn't a problem for you, that's cool, but the OP seems to have some glitch about it, so why not bring it up in the spirit of addressing what needs to be addressed and clearing the space? I should hope a friendship should be able to withstand such things as authentic communication, only to grow stronger, otherwise it truly isn't worth having.

Just my 2 cents. :)
 
Members don't see this ad :)

enviromed21

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2007
Messages
84
Reaction score
1
Last year, I asked a friend of mine to read over my personal statement for my AMCAS application. It's not that she's a great writer, but I wanted to get her feedback because I respected her opinion.

Recently, she asked me to read over her personal statement for law school. I was adding my comments into the document until I came to the last paragraph. I was then shocked to realize that she took three sentences from my AMCAS personal statement and basically changed "medicine" to "law" and "physician to lawyer." It's pretty clear, at least to me, that the part she took from me does not mesh with the overall quality of the statement.

What would you do in this situation?
I agree with the other post in that I wouldn't really get too crazy over it. It sounds like a harmless mistake. If anything you should take it as a compliment of your writing skills. :)
 

musiclink213

My room is a mess
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2003
Messages
3,479
Reaction score
3
I find that remark a triffle offensive, only because my family suffered and survived in the travesty that was Communist China before moving onto freer shores. That has nothing to do with you, however, it's only what it triggered in me at first.

Regarding the content of your message, if you care about someone, wouldn't you care enough to give them direct feedback on the effect of their choices? I'm not saying to be harsh, or overly moralistic, I'm just saying to be authentic and loving. This world is so full of disgenuinous people already, we don't need more examples of it. Of course if it truly isn't a problem for you, that's cool, but the OP seems to have some glitch about it, so why not bring it up in the spirit of addressing what needs to be addressed and clearing the space? I should hope a friendship should be able to withstand such things as authentic communication, only to grow stronger, otherwise it truly isn't worth having.

Just my 2 cents. :)

Didn't mean to offend anybody. My family came from Communist Russia, or Soviet Union as it was back then. My dad's family spent the first 8 years of his life running from the government because somebody snooped to the govt that my grandfather was doing business inside his house. What was his business? Sewing fabric to make bedsheets (pillowcases, duvets, that kind of stuff). My mom's side also had hteir fair share of hating the Communist rule. They had at one point 6 people living in a 3x2 meter room, sharing the kitchen and bathroom with everyone else in the apartment.

For me personally, it wouldn't bother me so much if a friend took a couple sentences that I wrote. Especially because it's not like we're applying for the same thing. And I can see how something that is relatively minor can escalate into something else, and it's not worth it for me. I generally don't like drama though, and I try to avoid it as much as possible. And I have bigger problems to deal with, like how to stop my friend from constantly getting into a car with her drunk boyfriend who is driving, that something minor like this really wouldnt want to be something I would want to deal with. But I guess if it bothers you, then by all means, bring it up. But I thought hte OP was asking if it was worth mentioning to the friend, and my opinion is that it isn't worth it. I think my friendships are made better not when we have problems, but when you call them at 3 am and they come to see you right away even though you live over an hour away. I think it's those times when you need your friends and they come for you that make a friendship stronger.
 

searun

Full Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2006
Messages
3,153
Reaction score
10
and shave, unless your razor is blunt.
 

spicedmanna

Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2006
Messages
5,820
Reaction score
17
For me personally, it wouldn't bother me so much if a friend took a couple sentences that I wrote...

Perhaps you are right, and it's no big deal. I sometimes get too caught up in trying to clean up messes, many of which aren't even mine.

Anyway, we don't know the precise details of the OP's situation, nor do we know the nature of their relationship. However, I agree that drama pretty much sucks universally. I never meant to suggest that one should turn a minor situation into a big production. Definitely not. I merely wanted to impress on the OP that he should just say what's on his mind in a genuine and loving manner, if there is something that wants to be expressed. There sounds like a real trespass here and maybe the appropriate recourse is simply to say, "hey, there's no real problem here, don't worry about it; I hope that it helps you get into law school, but I'd appreciate if you asked me next time." No drama; just a simple communication and request. It just seems healthier, rather than supressing and withholding, which invites the possibility for further problems to arise later. The OP should do whatever he needs to do to feel complete; whatever that looks like for him. You are right, however, the bigger problems do frequently need to be addressed first. Nevertheless, I've often found in my many years of counseling people, that in talking about the little things/issues one has a tendency to draw out the long-standing problems, anyway. I remember something I once heard: "an argument is never what it appears to be about."

Anyway, really there is too little information to make an accurate diagnosis of the OP's situation. The OP will just have to feel into what the appropriate response will be and take it from there.

After reading your post, I think you must be a great ally to your friends. They are fortunate to have you by their side. :thumbup:
 

Cirrus83

Too old for this
10+ Year Member
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
1,731
Reaction score
9
I'd let it slide, just because you don't even know if she straight up plagiarized it or not. Do you think she actually kept a copy of your essay and reread it right before writing hers? Either way I don't know if you have proof.

She might have just read it, thought it was great, forgotten about it, and after sitting down to write her own thing thought up something she thought would be a great ending, without realizing that she was just remembering your ending.

Unless it's uber-identical and looks like she actually copy and pasted it, I don't really think you should assume she did it on purpose. It might seem familiar to you, but that doesn't mean that she even remembered what you wrote. I sure as hell don't remember my friends' essays that I've proofread, lol.
 
S

supernareg

u shouldnt have even posted it. i think the OP is trying to sound like a virgin mary.

ffs people, have some SOCIAL skills, u dont have to go by the book EVERY time. BE HUMAN
 

kevster2001

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2004
Messages
1,347
Reaction score
2
I'd tease her about it but it wouldn't bother me
 

PugMD

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
360
Reaction score
0
Let it go man. At least you know you end it with a bang!
 

bruce wayne

New Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2007
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
i can't believe the OP would even post this, let alone all the responses. Hell, I can't believe I just responded, haha:laugh: ITS NO BIG DEAL!!
 

chable

A sphincter says, "what."
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2006
Messages
259
Reaction score
5
i can't believe the OP would even post this, let alone all the responses. Hell, I can't believe I just responded, haha:laugh: ITS NO BIG DEAL!!

I think the Joker's on the loose. Get to work.
 

JohnMadden

Political Refugee
10+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
387
Reaction score
3
u shouldnt have even posted it. i think the OP is trying to sound like a virgin mary.

ffs people, have some SOCIAL skills, u dont have to go by the book EVERY time. BE HUMAN

I'm not trying to portray myself as "greater than thou" or the like. Nor am I going to "go by the book" and report her. I have nothing to lose in the situation.

Hell, I've revised a few personal statements for friend's grad school apps, practically re-writing whole sections. I'm pretty laid back about helping a friend out, but I was slightly perturbed by her asking me to review something, part of which was mine to begin with. It's funny more than anything else. I just would have appreciated a "heads up" or a "thank you"

And yes, it was clear that the sentences were copied and pasted except for the changes I noted above. I guess the mistake I made was sending it to her electronically...
 

DuckHunter

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2006
Messages
91
Reaction score
0
Heck, you should call your friend on it and make them pay $20 for every sentance of yours that they want to use.
 
Top