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Plagiarism: a study in the spectacular fall of "Dr."* Chris Spence!

How to Educate Your Inner Plagiarist!

*"Dr." - is used in quotation marks because the University of Toronto rescinded his dissertation as the result of 67 counts of alleged plagiarism found within the document.  The Ontario College of Teachers also revoked his teaching licence.

This guide will take you through some of the twists and turns of plagiarism as it is encountered in college life.  Using a novel approach, we will rely on a case study derived from the "real world."  The spectacular and regrettable fall from grace of "Dr." Chris Spence, former Director of the Toronto District School Board, will be our guide to the modern study of plagiarism.

As you might expect, plagiarism is a complex subject, and this guide does not pretend to take a comprehensive approach.  If you have questions, why not speak to a librarian?


Richard Sims, Librarian

p.s. APA style has been used throughout this guide, with apologies to MLA and other style enthusiasts.

What happens after a spectacular and regrettable fall from grace?

Apparently, you step outside of your comfort zone and attempt to write a YA novel!

Where can you find a copy of "Dr." Spence's YA novel, Ice Cold?

Centennial College Library does not have a copy of Ice Cold in its collection, just 'cause.

While Ice Cold is not available anywhere in the TDSB library system, there are copies of books written by Spence before his fall.


Silver Lining: There are currently eight copies of his 2016 book (after his fall), Snowball: brothers 4 life, at the Amesbury Middle School library.

Snowball effect

Calls for "Dr." Spence's resignation snowballed quickly.  Of note, Mayor (at the time) Rob Ford said, "'He shouldn’t be plagiarizing number one, and I think there should be major sanctions'” (Peat, 2013, para. 2).

While the intoxicated, Jamaican impersonating Mayor Ford did not have nearly the same football coaching acumen as Spence, the self-confessed crack cocaine smoking mayor who walked into at least one camera knows that “'You can’t be the director of education and plagiarizing'” (Peat, 2013, para. 4).

For good measure, his brother Doug added, “'Let’s get a leader that doesn’t plagiarize'” (Peat, 2013, para. 11).


Whether or not you can be a crack smoking mayor is still an open question. Rob Ford died of an aggressive and rare cancerous tumor.  He was 46 years old.

Defining Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

Committing the act of plagiarism can have a negative impact on your academic success.  The college has a robust policy around infractions of this nature.  Additionally, I have highlighted two other online tutorials for your consideration, as we wade into the murky waters of plagiarism and academic dishonesty.

Recommended online tutorials:

What is Academic Integrity? (Brock University)

You Quote it, you Note it! (Acadia University Library)

Don't be a Course Hero! Do your own work instead!

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