Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Blogging Plagiarism

Thanks to Otto for pointing this out to me on Twitter. A History Ph.D. student at the University of Liverpool recounts how her blog was plagiarized.

In June this year I was sent a link to an article on a tabloid newspaper website titled Edwardian Rogues Gallery, by a friend and former lecturer, suggesting I might find it of interest. When I opened the article, I was surprised and horrified, to find a post I had published on my blog just weeks earlier staring back at me, with somebody else's name placed at the top. Worse still, I found the same post reproduced on other sites, under the name of more authors. 
At first, my overriding emotion was that of disbelief. Although I knew that some news organisations were far from scrupulous in their reporting, I had always assumed this would stop short of reproducing others work without permission or acknowledgement. But after taking to Twitter to get some more opinions, I was saddened to hear that, yes, this can happen, and yes, it happens all the time.

Plagiarism sucks. Period. I am glad, though, that ultimately she says she is not giving up blogging, because I definitely think the benefits outweigh the risks (though a quick Google finds her blog here and it has not been updated since July 1, 2013). This seems rare to me, but maybe it is more rampant in some fields than others. And I wonder whether it happens more to graduate students than to professors. And to women more than men.

For some reason, she does not link either to her blog or to the offending piece, which I found here, so you can see for yourself.

I am trying to think about what I would do if I were in her shoes, which is also tough because I am not a graduate student, which is obviously a much more tenuous position. But if you've developed an audience, and it certainly sounds like she has, then you make this situation as viral as possible, with as many links and named names as possible. Shame can work, and with any luck the Guardian piece contributes. I understand that is cold comfort to this graduate student, who is trying to develop an original line of work and get it disseminated without harassment. I wish there was some other way to address such problems without having to hire lawyers.


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