Thursday, October 11, 2007

Poshard: unintentional plagiarism?

A report by the SIUDE on Oct. 11 begins: The committee reviewing plagiarism charges against SIU President Glenn Poshard submitted a 10-page report detailing its findings to the chancellor's office Wednesday [Oct. 10].

Significant text in the report:

Worrells would not comment on what the committee found but said the group spent a significant amount of time looking through SIUC's 1984 graduate catalog as well as writing style manuals from the time period.

The group also spent time discussing unintentional plagiarism, he said.

"That particular phrase got a lot of attention," he said.

The concept of unintentional plagiarism is relevant to the manner in which the Laurence Tribe matter at the Harvard Law School was handled. Different people have different viewpoints on unintentional plagiarism.

The SIUDE indicates that the results of the committee report will be released at a press conference today [Oct. 11]. IPBiz predicts an outcome similar to that in the Tribe matter. Poshard will remain as president.

In a separate editorial, the SIUDE writes: The best-case scenario the seven-person, internal committee charged with reviewing its boss's dissertation could present is that an entity outside of SIU's (Poshard's) jurisdiction takes the reigns of this investigation. IPBiz predicts that that will not happen.

IPBiz notes that on Oct. 11, the University of Maryland student newspaper ran an opinion piece titled Increased encouragement of academic honesty cannot come at the expense of false accusations of plagiarism. IPBiz notes that the "facts" of what was copied (and not attributed) in cases involving accusations of plagiarism are usually pretty clear. The uncertainty resides in the intent. In the area of copyright (which is NOT the same as plagiarism), the accuser has to prove access to the copied work, unless the copied material is SO similar to the original work that access can be inferred.

Separately, in the matter of Glenn Austin, the Press-Register reported: [O]n Jan. 30 WKRG News Director Dan Cates issued a statement about the termination on the air and at "WKRG and its parent company, Media General, has zero tolerance for plagiarism..."

In passing, note Plagiarism facts not easily separated from opinions, another unusual opinion piece in the Southern Illinoisan. IPBiz suggests plagiarism "facts" are easily separated from opinions. Intent, on the other hand, ...


Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert said...

The Chicago Tribune reported the unsurprising news that Dr. Poshard will keep his job and his Ph.D.

One notes the Tribune text:

The committee found that Poshard's writing style in his doctoral dissertation, which included unattributed passages, was consistent with the style used at the time by other graduate students. In some instances, paragraphs were lifted verbatim or borrowed heavily from other sources without quotation marks, and sometimes without footnotes.

There was no conduct code or definition of plagiarism in the SIU graduate student handbook when Poshard was a student, according to the report. Poshard said he didn't remember ever discussing plagiarism in his classes or with his dissertation advisory committee.

IPBiz has previously discussed the conduct code in place at Princeton, and plagiarism definitions at Princeton, which existed in 1981, 3 years BEFORE Poshard got his Ph.D.

The Tribune discussed the SIU committee report:

The committee called the errors in Poshard's thesis "inadvertent plagiarism," but concluded they would not be acceptable today. "There are numerous instances in which the words of others are present in a continuous flow with words written by the author of the dissertation, so that readers cannot distinguish between those two sources," the report states.

"The bulk of the allegations pertain to unquoted and uncited texts," according to the report. "These are pervasive. Some of these instances are significant."

9:10 PM  

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