Monday, March 08, 2010

Handling plagiarism accusations

In a comment to an article titled Could Plagiarism Software Have Spared The Times an Embarrassment? , one had text concerning the response of Bill Keller of the New York Times to the plagiarism by Zachery Kouwe:

The whole episode made Keller and the rest of the management look as managerial and in charge as David Paterson.

Within the article itself, one had a reason for NOT using plagiarism-detection software:

Terry Schwadron, the editor for information and technology at The Times, said the paper has looked into anti-plagiarism software half a dozen times over the years and has always decided it was not reliable enough, among other problems. As one test, for example, he said that plagiarized articles by Jayson Blair were run through one of the detection programs, and it failed to catch all the stolen passages.

The implication is that the software DID DETECT SOME of Blair's plagiarism, which would have been sufficient to start an inquiry.

What wasn't said is why editors don't have sufficient familiarity with the text to spot plagiarism. In many cases of plagiarism detection, it has been READERS who spot the plagiarism. Do we have the situation that readers are more familiar with subject matter than the editor?

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