Every single academic (especially O’Brien and Koestenberger) need to read this piece in the Guardian. It begins
When a professor ripped off my work in a journal, they escaped unpunished. How can we expect academic originality from students if we don’t uphold it?
Indeed! And oh, saying ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t punishment. Punishment is demotion or being fired.
I always assumed plagiarism to be mainly committed by a few lazy students and over-ambitious politicians. But ever since discovering plagiarism of my own work, I’ve come to see it as more pervasive.
Three years ago, I was reading up on recent research in my field, when I stumbled on a sentence that read quite familiar. Re-reading the entire paragraph, I realised these were my words – I’d published them on an academic blog two years before.
It turned out a whopping 285-word chunk in the article was copied verbatim, just minimally changed, but several other sections in the article used my arguments without credit. No footnote or reference acknowledged my work.
I was stunned because I couldn’t believe a full professor of high global standing – a respected leader in their field – would do this. I was also flattered because, of course, imitation is a form of praise. Mostly I was angry because an important article of mine had recently been rejected, but here was another person getting my half-baked blog thoughts published under their name. But I was also worried, because I now had to prove the originality of my work. Even now, I still fear reprisals if I were ever to publicise the incident; I avoided my institution while the plagiarist recently visited.
As a first step, of course I consulted the internet, and, bizarrely, I found numerous sources of advice for plagiarists – but not for those who have been plagiarised. These included tongue-in-cheek advice for academics, such as the “top five law-proof strategies when busted for plagiarism”.
Go and read the whole. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to academia. And if you’re lazy, just don’t write.