Beware plagiarism

August 22, 2003

Academics should protect themselves against deliberate or inadvertent copying of their work ("Pondering the plagiarism plague"; "Academic claims Seoul credit for others' work", THES , August 1).

This includes having a reliable system for research, being scrupulous about attribution, citation and quotation. Once the work is published, detecting and dealing with theft is a greater challenge.

Assigning copyright of articles to publishers puts academics in a stronger position to protect their rights than acting alone. A publisher should support them throughout the publishing process, including instances of copyright infringement.

Academics could also ask a librarian to conduct a periodic search of the literature in their field to identify new work on the topics about which they've published, giving them the opportunity to review them for instances of inadequate attribution, incorrect quotation or citation, or outright copying.

In some cases, there may be a hazy line between research and original thought based on research - possibly leading to inadvertent use of or carelessness with others' words and ideas. While not intentional, this kind of plagiarism can destroy a reputation or career.

John Peters
Director, Emerald

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