Monday, March 22, 2010

“Some of the certitude surrounding intellectual property is breaking down"

An article in the Harvard Crimson titled Ad Board Grapples with Plagiarism ends with a quote attributed to Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris:

“It’s a moment to really revisit the way in which we are instructing students about respect for intellectual property, Some of the certitude surrounding intellectual property is breaking down, and scholarship cannot flourish in a world in which integrity is absent or diminished.”

The article is about plagiarism by students at Harvard, although arguably Harvard has had more problems with plagiarism by professors (eg, Laurence Tribe, Doris Kearns-Goodwin; the dichotomy in treatment between students/profs at Harvard was addressed by the Crimson long ago). The article suggests that punishments should be tailored to the crime, and should be required reading for the folks at University of Virginia.

From an earlier IPBiz post about the situation at Virginia:

Although Sam Leven spends much time saying intent IS an element of an Honor Offense, his conclusion on intent is: "Because the Intent Clause is ambiguous in many ways, however, adding intent to the definition of plagiarism would solve multiple problems." The CURRENT UVa definition of plagiarism does NOT include an element of intent. In an upcoming paper on academic plagiarism, researchers survey definitions of plagiarism at universities on four continents, and find that NONE include intent as an element of plagiarism. In dealing with the PUNISHMENT phase AFTER plagiarism is found, intent IS a factor. Because UVa chooses to have only one punishment (expulsion) for an Honor Code violation, UVa would tinker with the definition of the "crime." Apart from the general silliness of this approach against a background where other universities have a fairly uniform definition of plagiarism, the proposed UVa change would foster the concept of "inadvertent plagiarism" as exemplified in the Poshard matter at SIU.

University of Virginia to change definition of plagiarism?


Melody Y. Hu; Eric P. Newcome, John “Jay” L. Ellison, David J. Malan


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