Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Poshard: Ph.D. committee gave ok to omitting citations???

SIU president Poshard, previously accused of plagiarism in his Ph.D. thesis, has now been accused of plagiarism in his M.S. thesis.

AP reports: In an article published on its Web site Monday, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that a copy it obtained of Glenn Poshard's 1975 master's thesis on drug abuse and the document contained sentences found nearly verbatim in sources published earlier. The passages in Poshard's thesis are neither in quotation marks nor attributed to other sources, according to The Chronicle.

The AP article has interesting commentary about the previous Ph.D. plagiarism issue:

Addressing the allegations that he plagiarized parts of his 1984 [Ph.D.] dissertation, Poshard has said he might have mistakenly left out some citations in the dissertation -- with the blessings of his doctoral committee -- but he didn't plagiarize.

IPBiz notes that copying text without attribution is plagiarism. Perhaps Poshard should forward his theory to the folks at Ohio University.

The SIU response is to appoint a blue ribbon panel.

Separately, a column by Kevin Self in the Daily Egyptian included the text:

Second, many mention the issue of the definition of plagiarism. One letter writer even goes so far as to complain that "today's evolved construction of plagiarism" has somehow been unfairly applied to a "work two and a half decades old." My first year as an undergraduate was in 1983 and I can assure you that standards have not changed. Any undergraduate and virtually all graduate students know that once a direct quote extends beyond a certain number of lines, the author must incorporate it as an indented paragraph and cite the source immediately thereafter. This was not the case in the samples of Poshard's dissertation presented in the DAILY EGYPTIAN. Whether he intended to type these passages without crediting the sources or not is immaterial. The point is that these words were taken, often verbatim, from another author. Does intent to deceive need to be proven, or even be taken into consideration, in a case of plagiarism?

IPBiz notes that there has been discussion of "unintentional" plagiarism in other contexts.

A commenter to a different blog had this to say about a letter defending Poshard:

The strategy of the letter quoted is a textbook example of the strategy employed by people who are "serial bullies."

[Quote from serial.htm:]

When called to account for the way they have chosen to behave, the bully instinctively exhibits this recognisable behavioural response:

a) Denial: the bully denies everything. Variations include Trivialization ("This is so trivial it's not worth talking about...") and the Fresh Start tactic ("I don't know why you're so intent on dwelling on the past" and "Look, what's past is past, I'll overlook your behaviour and we'll start afresh") - this is an abdication of responsibility by the bully and an attempt to divert and distract attention by using false conciliation. Imagine if this line of defence were available to all criminals ("Look I know I've just murdered 12 people but that's all in the past, we can't change the past, let's put it behind us, concentrate on the future so we can all get on with our lives" - this would do wonders for prison overcrowding).

b) Retaliation: the bully counterattacks. The bully quickly and seamlessly follows the denial with an aggressive counter-attack of counter-criticism or counter-allegation, often based on distortion or fabrication. Lying, deception, duplicity, hypocrisy and blame are the hallmarks of this stage. The purpose is to avoid answering the question and thus avoid accepting responsibility for their behaviour. Often the target is tempted - or coerced - into giving another long explanation to prove the bully's allegation false; by the time the explanation is complete, everybody has forgotten the original question.

Both a) and b) are delivered with aggression in the guise of assertiveness; in fact there is no assertiveness (which is about recognising and respecting the rights of oneself and others) at all. Note that explanation - of the original question - is conspicuous by its absence.

c) Feigning victimhood: in the unlikely event of denial and counter-attack being insufficient, the bully feigns victimhood or feigns persecution by manipulating people through their emotions, especially guilt. This commonly takes the form of bursting into tears, which most people cannot handle. Variations include indulgent self-pity, feigning indignation, pretending to be "devastated", claiming they're the one being bullied or harassed, claiming to be "deeply offended", melodrama, martyrdom ("If it wasn't for me...") and a poor-me drama ("You don't know how hard it is for me ... blah blah blah ..." and "I'm the one who always has to...", "You think you're having a hard time ...", "I'm the one being bullied..."). Other tactics include manipulating people's perceptions to portray themselves as the injured party and the target as the villain of the piece. Or presenting as a false victim. Sometimes the bully will suddenly claim to be suffering "stress" and go off on long-term sick leave, although no-one can quite establish why. Alleged ill-health can also be a useful vehicle for gaining attention and sympathy.


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