Plagiarism in Other Countries

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Still, it's one third of a Ph.D. thesis, supervised by another infamous politician who is now doing time for fraud in campaign funds, vs. a part of a law review article. I'm not saying that quantity is necessarily a factor, it's still plagiarism and it's still completely and absolutely wrong, but the sheer nerve it takes for someone to plagiarize this much in a thesis is galling.

However, he's in a select circle, which includes for instance our former/current Minister for Education.

What makes me particularly idignant is the fact that it will affect both the way which the system itself and its products (research) will be perceived.

Quote from: proftowanda on February 10, 2013,  6:05:14 PM

Quote from: emilytries on February 10, 2013,  5:59:28 PM

This story made the headlines for several months in Absurdistan. It's been 'resolved' politically, but there've been no actual consequences, regardless of the condemnations in the media and by international academic circles.

 It casts a very bleak shadow on a system that is already fraught with doubtful practices.

Well, we in the U.S. hardly are the ones to castigate Romania . . . considering that we promoted Biden to VP.

Well, it is plagiarism on a paper versus having a plagiarized PhD.  Second, having your name "cleared" by a Government committee, when you lead the government?  We're talking about whole new levels.  It would be the same as if, for example, the Romanian PM had been involved in a drunk hit and run which had been swept under the carpet, and it was compared to Bush's DUI.

Quote from: totoro on February 10, 2013,  7:22:47 AM

The article seems to make a big fuss about Americans being surprised that a PhD would use the title doctor... I guess that thinking is because all American academics are addressed professor by students.

I don't know in Germany, but in my country the title of "doctor" is considered higher-ranking than "professor" and in fact students might fear being disrespectful by using "professor,"  which is actually not commonly used. But my country is probably more title-obsessed than any European country - there are special titles for lawyers, engineers, PhD students who are enrolled but have not graduated, Master's students who are enrolled but have not graduated, etc. There is also the option, of French Revolution style, calling everyone "Citizen," but this is basically only used in writing (I know of one instance when someone wanted to hide the fact she held a PhD so in the relevant documents addressed to an HE institution those writing references for her and so forth always referred to her as "Citizen [Full Name]"). My own students address me (depending on how formal they are and how well we know each other) as anything from "Hey Neza" to "doctor," including some forms that would probably sound hilarious to American ears, such as "Master" (think MS rather than Master Yoda).
On the other hand, I've heard the joke about the German student writing to a British prof something like "Dear Herr Professor Dr. Lastname: Please forgive me for addressing you thus, but it is my understanding that in your country such informality is not offensive..."

Quote from: totoro on February 10, 2013,  7:22:47 AM

The article seems to make a big fuss about Americans being surprised that a PhD would use the title doctor than about the actual plagiarism involved.

In the recent German case, it was the Minister of Education, and had been scathing about the Guttenberg plagiarism case (hypocrite much?) - to me this seems far more sensible than the applying a similar penalty for, say, extramarital affairs not involving matters of state.

Quote from: totoro on February 10, 2013,  7:22:47 AM

I always knew that copying other people's writing and research ideas was wrong but I have noticed over time more of a concern about plagiarism in terms of things like not correctly citing and referencing work that I have always thought of as sloppy rather than almost criminal. I first saw that during my third and final stay in the US. I'm beginning to see that in Australia too now as we are using software like Turnitin etc. the same standard is getting universalized. So maybe standards have risen and what it was possible to get away with in Germany several decades ago is now no longer seen as acceptable.

To me pursuing academic dishonesty charges against cases in instances where there was obviously no intent to deceive (obvious typos, formatting issues, etc) seems petty and vindictive. By all means, nail those who buy papers from diploma mills or go the copy-paste route, and dock the relevant points for sloppiness, but if one is going to be crucified as high for a minor infraction (sloppiness) as for a big one (blatant fraud), then you might as well commit a big one. IMO, it's not just petty and vindictive, but also counterproductive.

Quote from: totoro on February 10, 2013,  7:22:47 AM

Also, I now see increased discussion around "self-plagiarism" which I would have thought was an oxymoron and was definitely never warned about when I was a PhD student. One of the most famous cases involves a Swiss academic who basically published the same paper several times in different journals. On the other hand, I think it is ridiculous to say you can't use some of the same methods sections or introductory material in different articles as long as each as significant new results in them. It seems standards are tightening on this too.

In fact it is blatantly a contradiction in terms - plagiarism is "an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author"  (my italics). It may be dishonest or break the rules, but it is plainly not plagiarism and pursuing punishment under the title of plagiarism is a blatant case of the arbitrary use of power (if we can't get you for rape, we'll charge you with murder) and it seems particularly ironic when such charges are pursued by English profs (who thus become guilty of misusing the English language). Frankly, in academic articles it's very hard to avoid, as intro sections on work in the line of research by the same group aren't going to be that different in content, and journals are unlikely to accept "See references [1-gazillion]" as an introduction (they're far more likely to accept something along those lines for the methods section) nor ""(several paragraphs copied and pasted from another paper by the same authors)" [that paper]". The results and conclusions may be novel, but the methods usually aren't and the introduction almost by definition is not going to be.
This is even worse in theses, as often a student will be continuing the work of another student in the same group, and thus how, exactly, is the intro content supposed to be very different from that in all other theses from that group? For my own thesis, I declined to read the intros of any of the other theses in my group and did CYA moves like "this subsection is based on ref [zillion]" and deriving some equations practically from scratch and so forth, but what useful purpose does that serve?

Here is what I think is an extreme example:

The guy repeated a point from one paper in another and gets excoriated on a blog for it.

Quote from: totoro on February 10, 2013, 11:51:51 PM

Here is what I think is an extreme example:

The guy repeated a point from one paper in another and gets excoriated on a blog for it.

I've come to hate the term "self-plagiarism".  The evil of plagiarism is the theft of ideas, so how can somebody steal from themselves?  Using your own stuff without attribution can be sloppy writing, or, if you reproduce the greater part of something you published earlier, you would be "double-dipping".  Not the most ethical of practices, but not in  the same category as plagiarism.  What Dr Krashen did barely warrants a wagged finger and an admonishment to be more careful when repeating a point from another paper.  I'm wondering what issue Beall has and with who, or were there so few cases of real plagiarism this month that Beall was trying to pad an article?


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