Saturday, May 09, 2009

Plagiarism, not about intent, but sloppiness?

The Tuscaloosa News quoting Carl Boening, now chair of the behavioral studies division at Shelton State Community College on the Meehan matter :

“There’s some interesting similarities in the language that was used, but plagiarism a lot of times is not about intent, but sloppiness. That can be part of it, but, again, I don’t know. I’m not in the man’s head so I don’t know what happened there or didn’t happen there."

It was Boening's thesis that Meehan is said to have copied.

Meehan is currently president of Jacksonville State University [JSU] and the news article noted that JSU had hired an attorney to look into the matter:

That article and court motion prompted JSU to hire a law firm to examine the two dissertations. In a letter date April 23 to the chairman of the JSU board of trustees, attorney Charlie Waldrep wrote that his firm highlighted similar passages in each, along with information unique to each dissertation. However, Waldrep said only UA can determine if it’s plagiarism.

The news article confuses copyright infringement and plagiarism, which in fact are two DIFFERENT things:

Kenneth Crews, an expert on copyright and dissertations at Columbia University, said the question is whether Meehan borrowed enough from Boening’s work to constitute copyright infringement, which can occur even when the author gives full credit. Crews said that was an issue he couldn’t answer without more detailed knowledge.


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