5.0800 Rs: Plagiarism (5/154)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 30 Mar 1992 19:34:19 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0800. Monday, 30 Mar 1992.

(1) Date: Sun, 29 Mar 92 21:22:52 CST (21 lines)
From: (James Marchand) <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: plagiarism

(2) Date: Sun, 29 Mar 92 22:43:29 MST (14 lines)
From: hexham@acs.ucalgary.ca (Irving Hexham)
Subject: Re: 5.0787 Rs: Plagiarism

(3) Date: Mon, 30 Mar 92 10:03:30 EST (33 lines)
From: Edward.Vasta.1@nd.edu
Subject: Plagiarism

(4) Date: Mon, 30 Mar 92 17:30:40 EST (47 lines)
From: Bernard.van't.Hul@um.cc.umich.edu
Subject: 5.0782 Qs: ... Plagiarism

(5) Date: Mon, 30 Mar 1992 18:23 EST (39 lines)
Subject: Re: 5.0797 Rs: Plagiarism

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sun, 29 Mar 92 21:22:52 CST
From: (James Marchand) <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: plagiarism

I agree with Dennis. There is so much plagiarism going around nowadays
(and when did it not? as Byron might have asked, being accused of it so
often), that one really ought to praise a student who does it well. If
the Bidens, Haleys, Presidents of Cornell, and all the others are to profit
from it, who are we to condemn it? I once was at an MLA meeting when a
well-known professor was delivering a paper and Gottfried Merkel got up and
revealed that the talk had been cribbed from a paper he had written. Not
only did the professor involved not leave the profession, drummed out by
an angry professoriat or slain by his students' quills, but he finished his
career as a "distinguished" professor. As Dennis says, it's according to
whose ox is being gored in this plagiarism business. Actually, it is prob-
ably not too bad to get kicked out for plagiarism as a student; just like
everybody else who gets caught with the hand in the till, one just moves
elsewhere if one has to. Strangely enough, I can remember having been
plagiarized many times, I cannot remember having plagiarized, nor can I
remember ever having lost a game of billiards.
Jim Marchand
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------24----
Date: Sun, 29 Mar 92 22:43:29 MST
From: hexham@acs.ucalgary.ca (Irving Hexham)
Subject: Re: 5.0787 Rs: Plagiarism (3/89)

I would like to enter the discussion on plagiarism by
giving some exact examples from my own field, South African
history and religion, which I then want to discuss. But, before
I do so what are the legal implications if any? Can I give a
quotation and then compare it with an original source with
impunity? What if I simply give the quotation but do not say
where it came from? Could the author argue that anyone familiar
with the field would recognize their work and could that cause
legal problems? In other words where does academic freedom and
debate cease because revealing misconduct threatens someone?
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------38----
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 92 10:03:30 EST
From: Edward.Vasta.1@nd.edu
Subject: Plagiarism

The complexities of plagiarism that Dennis Baron describes do indeed need
sorting out. One can begin, I think, by distinguishing the two norms
involved, norms that are often confused or left unconsidered, especially in
the case of student work. The two issues are honesty and property rights.
Honesty is a matter of intention; property right is a matter of overt use.
The former plagiarism is primarily a moral issue; the latter is primary a
legal issue.

We often fail to separate these issues, or even think of them. If the same
or similar material appears in two places, and in a quantity sufficient of
notice, we assume plagiarism has occurred, and we feel no need to look
further for evidence. We take plagiarism to have been objectively proven.
In the case of student plagiagism, however, honesty should be the issue,
and the student's dishonest intention should be the whole question, and
that intention should be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. If property
rights have been violated, then that is between the student and the
copyright owner.

Although the distinction between property rights and dishonesty can be made
starkly, as above, there are, of course, complexities. But the distinction
itself should serve as a starting point for unravelling this issue.

Edward Vasta
203 Decio Faculty Hall
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46656
Voice: (219) 239-6330 FAX: (219) 239-8209
INTERNET: Edward.Vasta.1@nd.edu

(4) --------------------------------------------------------------56----
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 92 17:30:40 EST
From: Bernard.van't.Hul@um.cc.umich.edu
Subject: 5.0782 Qs: Quotes; Dictionary; Yearbook; Plagiarism (5/72)

Subject: 5.0797 Rs:...Plagiarism (2/113)

Dr. Joel Goldfield proffers P.O.Box number and tel. number
of the "Glatt Plagiarism Services," along with the reminder
that the Glatt people "exhibited at the 1990 MLA

M. Lenoble recalls having tested the Glatt program so as to
be able to write about it -- and that "as [he] didn't
want to write devastatingly negative comments ... , [he]
refrained from ever publishing anything about it."

At the very end of his circumspect and provocative
reflections on academic and non-academic varieties of
plagiarism, including those exemplified in Thos. Mallon's
*Stolen Words*, Dennis Baron reports his non-waffling
administrative policy (to "come down hard on student
plagiarists") and asserts his resolve (to "continue to do

A three-fold response:

(1) To Dr. Goldfield:
Anyone who wishes to buy a truck can reach a seller of them
by addressing a (US Mail-type) letter to my cousin Jerry, at
Van't Hul Motors, Inwood, Iowa. tel. 712-753-4568. Jerry has
exhibited on the Rock Valley Main Street over several years.

(2) To M. Lenoble:
I implore you to explain: WHY EVER did you once "refrain"
from writing "devastatingly about" a program that, as YOU
describe it now, is so patently garbage+dollars in, then
garbage out? WHO or WHAT silenced you?

(3) To Dennis Baron (old friend):
As I read your comments AND examples, they cry out (in my
ears) against your non-waffling policy. More honestly, they
confirm deep misgivings about our academic presumption that
the integrity of ANYONE's public discourse can be even
CONCEIVED (and then "taught" and then "enforced"!) as
analogous to laws respecting the ownership of property in,
say, a free-market economy.
(Later, DB.)
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------49----
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 1992 18:23 EST
Subject: Re: 5.0797 Rs: Computer Distribution; Plagiarism (2/113)

I agree with Dennis Baron that plagiarism is an interesting issue in more
ways than one.

As a writer I distinguish, especially in French, between "we" and "I" --
and much of the information that comes under "nous" or "we", and that I
have found in more than one source, may go unacknowledged although I may
have read it in one particular book. This is especially the case if I
thought that referencing the book or article would give it undue weight.
However, if I read the idea in a book that is good and has further things
to say about the issue, then I will definitely reference it even if the
idea itself is standard. Some readers will not know about what is standard
in >my< subspecialty so that it is particularly important to be able to
reference the idea for them.

Which is what referencing is FIRST about: advancing the conversation with
one's colleagues. In France, "plagiarism" is much more common than in the
U.S. because what is "obviously shared knowledge" is assumed to be greater
-- or the genre of criticism is viewed as more essayistic and the origin of
the idea as less important than what I do with them.

Or, on another front, I'm now writing two encyclopedia articles on "rhyme"
and on the "line (of verse)". I am borrowing without acknowledgement from
a couple of sources because there is no place for footnotes or indeed
acknowledgement of people who have helped me with the versification of
Japanese and Chinese. But when I rewrite the piece as part of a monograph
on problems of versification, those people will be duly acknowledged.

Of course, the student-prof relationship is quite unlike the kinds of
audiences we write for as scholars. In a sense, before writing a
dissertation, the student is writing something "in between". It's not easy
. But Baron is right: better over-reference than under-reference, at least
when you're a student.

Michel Grimaud