Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Plagiarism at Northwestern?

Further to issues of plagiarism in academia, there was a recent incident at the Daily Northwestern not unrelated to the issue of plagiarizing oneself. One reporter at the Daily copied large parts of a story from an earlier article published in the Daily. As to any copyright issues, the Daily would hold copyright, so that the issue is one of unattributed source, not of copyright.

The Daily's editor published a note on November 7, 2006 which included text:

...a former staffer that suggested an article in Monday's newspaper ("Traveling mechanic rides to rescue of cyclists in need") was strikingly similar to a Daily story printed March 3, 2004 ("Get your fix").

After comparing the two articles and investigating the reporting behind Monday's story, written by freshman Tania Chen, we have concluded that significant parts were plagiarized. For this reason, The Daily retracts the story.

The punchline, however, is the following:

Beginning today, all Daily staffers will have to read and sign an honor pledge that defines plagiarism, describes its consequences and promises action should a situation arise. Our news desk, which already meticulously fact-checks each story, will increase its use of Internet search engines and the Daily's online archives to minimize the possibility of plagiarism in the future.

IPBiz hopes that the Daily's fact-checking efforts will exceed those of the Stanford Law Review (which overlooked a misidentification of the inventor of the integrated circuit) and the Boston University Law Review (which failed to check out a false statement attributed to Robert Clarke in the area of continuing patent applications).

The logic of the Northwestern Daily, if applied to the Southern Illinois University [SIU] case, might have produced a different result than that obtained by the academic administrators.


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