Thursday, February 15, 2007

Plagiarism flap over Korea University president Lee Phil-sang

Following a favorable "confidence" vote, Korea University president Lee Phil-sang has offered to resign over plagiarism charges against him. Although Lee had won a confidence vote among professors Feb. 14, only 478 of the 1,219 faculty members participated in the voting. About 20 percent of the professors declared a boycott of the poll, contending that plagiarism allegations should not be resolved by a vote.

Lee graduated from Seoul National University in engineering [SNU is the school where Hwang Woo Suk was during the stem cell fraud] and received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in the United States. He has been at Korea University since 1982. It was the first time that a non-Korea University graduate was named to head the school.

The Korea Times reported:

The new president of Korea University has expressed his intention to step down over plagiarism allegations, school officials announced Thursday. The announcement came one day after Korea University President Lee Phil-sang survived a vote of confidence by the school's faculty members.

The Times also noted:

>>The allegations have it that he plagiarized his students’ theses in the 1980s and 90s, while serving as an economics and finance professor at the university.

After a peer review panel concluded that five of Lee's papers were "almost certain" to have been plagiarized, Lee proposed holding the vote of confidence and vowed to step down if he failed to win support from a majority of the faculty.<<

Now, IPBiz has a question for Richard Posner. Given that the Harvard Business Review tells one to "plagiarize with pride," should Lee Phil-sang get a walk because he was merely following the custom and practice of his area, just as Posner gave a walk to certain members of the legal profession?

Paul Greenberg had an article at Town Hall which expressed similar sentiments:

When caught red-handed with my hands on somebody else's words, the best defense I can frame is, of course, in somebody else's words. Namely, Tom Lehrer's. Specifically, his ditty in honor of the great mathematician Lobachevsky.

For the full effect, Professor Lehrer's aria needs to be sung off-key after a couple of cold ones to the accompaniment of a tinny piano and a loud, vigorous Hey! at the end of each chorus, complete with a stage Russian accent:

"I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky. In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: Plagiarize!"

And on to the verse: "Plagiarize! / Let no one else's work evade your eyes, / Remember why the good Lord made your eyes, / So don't shade your eyes, / But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize - / Only be sure always to call it, please . . . Research!" Hey!


If and when the slip is noticed, always call it "Accidental" -- ("Gosh, I must have copied that in my research and forgotten it wasn't mine.") See the excuses offered by historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and the late, sainted Stephen Ambrose, both of whom were caught sounding entirely too much like someone else.

Harvard Law School is well represented in these distinguished ranks with Lawrence Tribe and Charles J. Ogletree, professors whose words bore a striking similarity to those written by others. The trend starts early at Harvard: An undergraduate there turned out a novel that contained all-too-familiar passages - and got a $500,000 advance for it.

Now a federal judge, the prolific Richard A. Posner, would simplify matters by exempting lawyers and judges from charges of plagiarism. What, not newspaper columnists?

IPBiz notes the earlier post: The businessman view of IP: Plagiarize, don't shade your eyes?


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