AURAK Takes On Plagiarism

May 15, 2018,


The Dean of Office of Academic Support Services, Prof. Steven Zani, and Professor of English, Arabic, and Translation Studies, Prof. Kamal Abdel-Malek, of the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) held a faculty development conference, “Plagiarism East and West,” comparing Western and Eastern traditions concerning plagiarism.

Plagiarism, the act of presenting another person’s ideas as one’s own, has been a crippling disease to the academic world for over a millennia. To encourage future events aimed at creating stronger plagiarism policies, Prof. Kamal and Prof. Steven tag-team lectured to the AURAK faculty, elaborating on the history of plagiarism in Eastern and Western cultures: Prof. Kamal explaining the Eastern tradition and Prof. Steven explaining the Western. Each culture holds a different meaning and viewpoint concerning plagiarism, and they believe to effectively combat it, faculty must understand those viewpoints.

Prof. Kamal began the workshop with a hands-on demonstration utilizing oranges and ginger to illustrate that finding the center was difficult. Ideas are similar. Dr. Kamal explained that work starts with one original idea, but then someone takes that central idea and elaborates on it. He maintains that Eastern cultures have found it acceptable in the past to use already established ideas without crediting the author.   He quoted Ibn Tabataba’I, “If a poet picks the ideas/motifs which his predecessors produced and puts them in a better linguistic attire (kiswa) he is not to be faulted… he should be credited and praised.” Prof. Steven explained that the invention of the printing press changed the West’s way of thinking. It enabled more people to read and write; copyright laws were developed, establishing an importance of assigning credit to prior authors. Contemporary education finds additional fault in plagiarism with its hindrance in the development of critical thinking skills.

The lecture ignited discourse among faculty over possible adjustments in the curriculum that would facilitate the eradication of plagiarism, illustrating tremendous support in generating future events dedicated to these adjustments.

AURAK President, Prof. Hassan Hamdan Al Alkin, was pleased with AURAK faculty preemptively taking steps to eliminate an issue that impedes education in efforts to bolster the critical thinking skills of students.