# Is copying working and explanation plagiarism in this context?

In my institution I have a friend who is part of this Math club where they write blog posts and share them online at medium.com. However, there is an issue with my friends post.After they shared it with me to go through, check for errors and edit, I looked online and found this. My issue is that their working and explanations are all copied from the person who wrote this, my friend has only changed a few words(5-10). I am worried that if they post this they will get into a lot of trouble since plagiarism is dealt with very harshly in my institution. However, they denied copying from there. I don't mean to sound rude, but I do not believe them. How should I go about this? Should I report them? FYI: There were no citations in their article.

• The math steps shown in that article are definitely not new. [Here's a video from 8 years ago showing essentially the same work.] Also, what can be gained by linking only to the article that is the suspected source of your friend's blog post? Jan 18 at 15:00
• I’m voting to close this question because it doesn't seem to be primarily about math education. Jan 18 at 18:09
• Probably not feasible in your specific case, but it would have been better if they had picked something else not already discussed to death on the internet. Perhaps simply state the paradoxical result as an opener for an elementary discussion of summability methods. Maybe begin with $(C,1)$ by giving some basic results and examples, mention generalizations such as $(C,\alpha)$, and give a brief introduction to matrix summability notions. Jan 18 at 19:23
• You are worried about him and you are thinking to report!! Jan 18 at 23:26
• @RustCore I looked online because I had never heard of a Ramanujan sum and found that article which was pretty much the same as my friends. I know he probably won’t be my friend after this, but I am trying to determine whether it would be better to tell him so that he doesn’t make the same mistake at University where the consequences are much more dire. Jan 19 at 22:59

There is no way to know the provenance of the information found in the online blog that was the suspected source. Several people have written about this odd mathematical series, including Wolfram. Your friends may have been trying to efficiently summarize, as best they could, the considerable information they found in attempting to educate others and clarify this rather strange mathematical series which adds to -1/12. Is there any way to claim that a math instructor's class lecture notes doing the same thing would be called plagiarism? Well, probably not. Nevertheless, someone may wish to argue the issue depends on one's view of the situation.

• Ok thanks for the info Jan 19 at 0:09
• The main problem is just that he even copied the explanation word for word changing very little. I know it's not wrong to copy someones proof but it is wrong to copy 90% of their explanation and not cite it. Jan 19 at 9:43
• -1 This doesn't synch with the OP's description that "my friend has only changed a few words (5-10)". That's not summarizing or equivalent to notes on the same topic. Jan 21 at 14:21
• Thomas - your first sentence may be true, but, in this day and age, there is software that is used to trace plagiarism. An article is submitted, and within seconds, existing articles that have a certain percent match are shown. Depending on the subject, one expects certain common phrases, but here, "just 5-10 words changed" is a huge red flag. If this were a question regarding a student submission for an assignment, I'd be very concerned. A math club blog post? Not sure how involved the school will get. May 16 at 12:22

You've warned him. I would take zero further action.

It's not even clear to me that your institution will punish someone for plagiarism that is not part of a class. But in any case that's up to them. If they find out.

• It is actually, they will punish you, because the school funds the "research" and events that the math ambassadors host, I was in it for 2 years prior to this one. Also my school is a big promoter of academic integrity, this involves the clubs and societies it hosts. Jan 19 at 9:41
• Que sera, sera. You already mentioned the risk. Let him make his own bed and sleep in it. Jan 19 at 10:54