Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tuscaloosa News story mangles facts in Meehan plagiarism matter

On July 25, Adam Jones of the Tuscaloosa News wrote about the Meehan plagiarism matter:

JSU professor David Whetstone claims JSU President Bill Meehan, while a graduate student at UA in 1999, used large parts of Whetstone’s dissertation in work Meehan submitted as his own dissertation.

IPBiz, observing from a distance in New Jersey (where mayors were paraded off in handcuffs by the FBI on July 23), notes this is NOT true. Whetstone is pursuing a case against Meehan which has NOTHING to do with plagiarism by Meehan of work by Whetstone. It does involve ownership of a plant collection. To show tendencies (habits, patterns) of Meehan as to "taking things", Whetstone's attorneys have brought up an issue that Meehan's thesis involves copying (without attribution} of text of a previous thesis by Carl Boening, now chair of the behavioral studies division at Shelton State Community College. The idea being along the lines "take words one day" links to "taking plants" on a later day.

How plausible that legal theory is might be questioned. Whether Meehan copied the words of Boening is a different matter, and JSU seems to have been unwilling to tackle the issue, doing even less than SIU did in the Poshard matter. The inability to deal with plagiarism, manifested by both universities, is sad, but then, in this, the state schools are really no different from Harvard University.

Returning to the news story, the information about Boening was previously published in the Tuscaloosa News. See
Plagiarism, not about intent, but sloppiness?
. If the Tuscaloosa News can't get the story straight from one article to the next, there is a problem.

Also in the Jones article:

Earlier this month, Judge Joel Laird denied motions by UA and JSU to stop the deposition of two UA administrators. An attorney for a JSU professor who claims his work was copied wants to ask UA Provost Judy Bonner and education dean Jim McClean what they have done to investigate.

The judge also denied JSU’s motion to strike the plagiarism accusation from the case.

It might seem that this is an evidentiary matter as to Whetstone's case. But, Whetstone would have no standing to pursue a copyright infringement action concerning copying of Boening's thesis.



Post a Comment

<< Home