I'm sorry, I'll write that again

September 22, 2011

"This could be the end for Lapping." That was the ominous response of Louise Bimpson, Corporate Director of Human Resources, to the revelation that Gordon Lapping, head of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies, was a "self-plagiarist".

This disturbing discovery was made when a sample of Professor Lapping's work was subjected to tests devised by iThenticate, the US plagiarism-detection company that recently defined "self-plagiarism misconduct" as the reuse by authors of "their own previously written work...in a 'new' written product without letting the reader know that this material has appeared elsewhere".

Computer "self-plagiarism" tests showed that lengthy sections of the scholar's 2008 work Deconstructing Hollyoaks (Truelove and Stubbins, £75) were identical to lengthy sections of his 2009 publication Deconstructing Emmerdale Farm (Truelove and Stubbins, £125).

Several of these already self-plagiarised sections were again repeated without acknowledgement of their previous usage in a 2010 article on Coronation Street in the British Journal of Soap Opera Deconstruction and in a short 2011 feature piece ("Dons who watch the soaps") in the Poppleton Evening News.

Professor Lapping admitted that he had written exactly the same thing in the books and articles but had been "writing the same thing about such very different things as Hollyoaks, Emmerdale Farm and Coronation Street". He believed that far from constituting misconduct, writing the same thing about different things was the essential feature of most REF-assessed work.

Dr Methuselah will see you now

Our Head of Assisted Retirement, Cecilia Bodkin, has declared her agreement with the recent assertion by David Gems, assistant director of the Institute of Healthy Ageing at University College London, that it was "an obscenity" to prevent academics from working for "as long as they are capable".

However, she also welcomed Dr Gems' recognition of the need to prevent "stagnation". This was a problem at the University of Poppleton, she said, where a survey conducted during the ongoing economic recession revealed that well over three-quarters of the university's existing academic staff now plan to work well beyond the traditional retirement age.

In effect, this would mean that by 2030 the mean average age of Poppleton academics would rise to 87.3 years and that 12 of its leading departments would be headed by academics "well into their early 100s".

This problem could only be exacerbated, she added, by the additional survey finding that more than 90 per cent of all Poppleton academic staff felt that they had aged at least 10 years during the past 12 calendar months.

Do nothing if you see it coming

Our vice-chancellor has backed the contention by Eric Thomas, president of Universities UK, that it was impossible for UUK to display any opposition to the government's tuition-fee proposals because the vice-chancellors already knew that "tuition fees were going to rise".

"It's perfectly obvious", the vice-chancellor told our reporter Keith Ponting (30), "that if you know in advance that something is going to happen, there's no point opposing it when it does happen."

However, when asked if this view would have been a reasonable one to have adopted following the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, he declined to elaborate.

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Please note: if you wish to make use of any of our self-insight materials, please treat them with respect. A simple coffee cup stain accidentally left on one of the Rorschach cards last term was enough to ensure that the university's Chief Finance Officer was inappropriately diagnosed as a homicidal maniac.


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