Roaming the Web for work

June 23, 1995

Should I laugh or cry? Reading the article on Professor Cheng's demotion due to allegations of plagiarism at City University, Hong Kong, (THES, 9 June), I began to wonder whether there was something special about plagiarism and Hong Kong or whether it was indicative of a much wider phenomenon.

I became aware recently of four academics at City Polytechnic, Hong Kong, who had completely plagiarised a refereed article I had written over a year ago. On subsequent discussions with the publishers, I found that three of the "authors" had disassociated themselves from the article and the remaining "author" had fled City Polytechnic in Hong Kong. Is this the tip of an iceberg?

There are increasing pressures on academics to publish and one cannot help feeling that such plagiarism could be rife. In my case, it was evident that the entire article was a straight lift. However, one does get into rather murky waters when an author plagiarises, say, 40-50 per cent of your work without due acknowledgement.

In a world characterised by information explosion, I found the plagiarised article in an almost absent-minded search of a CD-ROM database. I feel hesitant encouraging academics to check citations of their own work but I wonder whether, like myself, they may be surprised by what they find.


Senior lecturer University of Westminster

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