Zwinglius Redivivus

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The Plague of Plagiarism in Academia, By Professors!

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.

Written by Jim

4 Nov 2017 at 11:34 am

Posted in Modern Culture

2 Responses

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  1. I actually received an email from the chair of exposition at a highly esteemed seminary asking if I would send him a preaching mentorship curriculum I had developed.

    In his email he wrote, “I would, of course, use it as my own.”

    He had no intention of giving any credit to me. But…at least he was upfront with his plagiarism (right?).



    5 Nov 2017 at 9:11 am

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