Plagiarism by Professors

 Posted by on 6 March 2005 at 12:02 pm  Academia
Mar 062005

I sent this to my fellow graduate students at Boulder a few months ago, then forgot to blog it. But the article is still available — and it is no less relevant than in December. Here’s what I said then (with some editing to make it bland but safe):

The Chonicle of Higher Education recently published an interesting article on plagiarism in academia — among professors, not students.

The upshot of the article is that the phenomenon seems fairly widespread, yet mechanisms for the identification and punishment of wrongdoers are often grossly inadequate, if available at all. Often the mere retraction of the plagiarizing work is difficult to obtain.

In many cases, the only alternative to allowing someone to steal your work at will is going public with the charge of plagiarism. Frankly, I would worry about being sued for so accusing a fellow academic with plagiarism, no matter how blatant the offense.

The article doesn’t mention any problems with plagiarism by or of philosophy professors, although the whole situation obviously involves some interesting ethical questions about the proper personal and institutional responses to immorality.

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