Plagiarism: The Hijacking of Curriculum Vitas in Academia

Plagiarism: The Hijacking of Curriculum Vitas in Academia

Plagiarism: The Hijacking of Curriculum Vitas in Academia

By: Dr. M. L. Witherspoon

Karla L. Miller, a writer for the Washington Post, recently responded to what she has categorized as “workplace trauma.” The article addressed a situation where a person’s resume was partially plagiarized by a co-worker. Unfortunately, this type of occupational demolition happens more often in the workplace environment than most people would like to recognize. Corporate America usually requires the submission of a resume from applicants, which customarily entails using a design template to provide a synopsis of their skills and history of employment. In academia, however, most employers of higher education require a curriculum vita (i.e., CV). It must be accentuated that there are significant distinctions between the requirements of a resume as opposed to a CV. An initial search generated an article entitled CV vs Resume and the Differences Between Countries (2018), which the anonymous author outlined broad definitions of these documents. Resume means to present a page generally summarizing the name, contact information, education, and relevant work experiences of applicants; so, in essence, individuals are expected to present themselves as a product. A CV is an extended version of a resume. Applicants showcase their entire academic life in a CV which includes information on their academic background, teaching philosophy, degrees, research, awards, publications, presentations, and other achievements. CVs, therefore, are much lengthier than resumes because it comprises applicants’ personalized information in their work-related specialties. This exposé simply renders a formal dialogue about the research (or lack thereof) that has been conducted on the proportion of CVs that have been plagiarized or hijacked in academia. This article presents a discussion on whether or not academicians can find out if their CV has been plagiarized. Some common sense alternatives and technological strategies on how to protect their academic identities from being stolen are stated. Lastly, the repercussions of these aberrant actions are briefly mentioned.

To reiterate, CVs are primarily used “when applying for international, academic, education, scientific, medical, or research positions” (CV vs Resume and the Differences Between Countries, 2018, p.1). Geographical breakdowns are provided of the countries that elect to use resumes versus CVs for employment and the subject matter prerequisites. For further illustration,

CVs are used everywhere in the world including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Asia, and the European Union. Resumes are used in the United States, Australia, and Canada. In the US, a CV and resume are used interchangeably everywhere especially Australia, South Africa, and India. (CV vs Resume and the Differences Between Countries, 2018, p. 1)

A curriculum vita is considered to be an intimate document or one’s professional voice, highlighting accomplishments of individuals versus skill sets. So when a CV is plagiarized, it could very well be considered a form of identity theft or fraud. Hedayati (2012) discussed a conceptual review of major crimes leading to identity fraud, listing resume fraud alongside financial, immigration, medical, and tax fraud. Although references are made about resume crimes, the literature does not specifically address any bona fide consequences for hijacking CVs. This is an identity theft crime that has and continues to be overlooked in legal research, so no quantifiable data exist because it is so difficult for victims to prove the occurrence. Hedayati (2012) talked about prevention methods, but really, how does one find out if somebody has or is currently using his/her CV to attain gainful employment at an institution of higher learning?

Basically, the findings (or the lack thereof) indicate that it is virtually impossible to detect this crime, but Newsweek (2006) and IEEE Internet Computing (2006) introduced a product called Identity Angel as a deterrent for these professional academic pirates. So, how can there be ramifications for crimes that have not been properly detected or delineated by society? For future recommendation, a few other common sense preventative measures for academicians have been uncovered. A lesson learned the hard way is to never provide individuals such as a colleague with a CV to use as a template. Instead, it is wise to redirect people to career building websites such as Carnegie Mellon University’s step-by-step guide so that they are able to retrieve detailed CV and resume writing tips. It is okay to create an account and upload the CV on reputable job hiring sites like, but never put CVs on social mediums like LinkedIn.


Anonymous. (2018). CV vs resume and the differences between countries: How to write a CV part 2. Retrieved from

Hedayati, A. (2012, January). An analysis of identity theft: Motives, related frauds, techniques and prevention. Journal of Law and Conflict Resolution, 4(1), 1-12. Doi: 10.5897/JLCR11.044

Newsweek Staff. (2006, August). Identity Angel. Newsweek. Retrieved from


Dr. M. L. Witherspoon is an Associate Professor and Dissertation Chair for the University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies, a member of the Center for Leadership Studies and Educational Research Hub, and a college professor in the communication, education, and research disciplines. 

Feel free to reply here with questions, insights, and additional commentary on this topic.





Ryan Rominger's picture Ryan Rominger | August 1, 2018 10:04 am MST

Hello Dr. Witherspoon,

Great blog post! I appreciated your link to identity theft resources as well as raising the red flag with regard to CV content theft. I must admit that I have eagerly handed my CV to colleagues, and especially my dissertation students, for them to view and use as a template. Many students have said they truly appreciated receiving the CV as it helped them understand how to present themselves in the professional arena. That said, I see your recommendation to not give colleages your CV, but instead direct them to CV builders. I think that is also a good suggestion, but I am now also thinking of the many, many spots where I have my CV uploaded: LinkedIn, ResearchGate, and even here on the Research Hub. It seems that if one really wants to access an academic's CV to steal content, there are likely places to which one could go and find that content readily available. That only makes this issue that much more difficult to manage!

Again, thank you for raising this important issue!

~Ryan Rominger

Michelle Witherspoon's picture Michelle Witherspoon | August 1, 2018 1:52 pm MST

Hello Dr. Rominger,

Based upon your comments, I accomplished my mission. I just wanted to let the academic community know to be aware that this is happening and that they have to be more protective of their "academic identity." Thanks for sharing your experience.

Dr. Witherspoon

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