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Plagiarism II: Yours, Mine, and Oz
October 9, 2007 - 3:18pm



"[T]here is an emerging concern about double standards," writes a University of Sydney professor to an array of university leaders. Unlike some elite American universities, this Australian university contains at least one faculty member principled enough to make a fuss when his institution ignores plagiarism among high-ranking professors. Professor Peter McCallum, reports the Sydney Morning Herald, notes that "unless the university [deals] with the issue openly and fairly, students [will] not understand why it [is] acceptable for academics to reproduce material while they [are] not allowed to..."

The Australian plagiarism case is wild and wacky -- go to my flagship campus for details -- but the main thing involves the dean of the university's music conservatory being a serial plagiarist. She was asked to leave the school temporarily, while -- I guess -- the university looked into the matter. But she recently returned, and the university said nothing, and she said nothing.

It's as if it never happened. Only it did. She plagiarized. On a rather large scale.

Again, as in the American cases past and present, professor and institution shove the thing under the rug. But blatant plagiarism is easy to see: You've either lifted someone else's words or you haven't. Just ask David Leonhardt of the New York Times, who, as he was reviewing the in-part plagiarized Ian Ayres book (see the post just below this one), began to read, in that book, his own words: "...I came across two sentences about a doctor in Atlanta that were nearly identical to two sentences I wrote in this newspaper last year.... [Many] readers will...assume the words are his." Leonhardt doesn't seem to be very happy about this.


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