Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Plagiarism, at all levels

As I mentioned in a posting last week, I had another case of student plagiarism this year. Last year, I had two separate incidents. Usually it is by students who are desperate and who would be failing the course anyway, so just failing them in the course seems like an inappropriately ineffective deterrent.

Many years ago, I knew a man who received a Masters Degree from a university in the U. S. He told me that a week after he handed in his Master's Thesis, his advisor called him in and said, "Don't ever do this again!"

I was confused and asked, "Don't ever do what?"

"Copy an article," he replied.

I was somewhat aghast. I liked the man. "So what did you do?" I asked, somewhat shaken, but still naive...

"Copied a different article."
It turns out that plagiarism is serious among academics at all levels. I've seen my ideas, not words, show up uncited in other people's works; but I'm not sure they were stolen -- after all the ideas might have been developed at the same time, by coincidence. I'm skeptical.

And the Chronicle of Higher Education reports a survey of economists showing that 40% of them believe some of their work has been plagiarized at one time or another.

Wow! The entire article is worth reading. And what is an effective deterrent to plagiarism by professors?


Former colleague, John Chilton (who provided the above link) writes:
I once was told this story by a colleague at the University of Western Ontario. A professor was reading a paper by a graduate student that sounded remarkable familiar -- like one of Harry Johnson's papers. The student was Turkish and the English was rather fractured. Confronted, the student confessed that he had plagiarized, not Johnson, but a paper that had appeared in a Turkish journal in Turkish. It turned out that paper was a plagiarized translation of Johnson.

The mind boggles when you consider the possibility of plagiarism with translation.

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