Friday, October 15, 2010

Justice absolved in Supreme Court plagiarism case; MS Word blamed!

The Philippine Supreme Court absolved Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo of charges of plagiarism associated with the decision in the World War II comfort women case ["Vinuya, et al. vs. Executive Secretary" ].

Part of the decision harkened to the Glenn Poshard / SIU matter:

"If the Justice's citations were imprecise, it would just be a case of bad footnoting rather than one of theft or deceit. If it were otherwise, many would be target of abuse for every editorial error, for every mistake in citing pagination, and for every technical detail of form." and "Notably, neither Justice Del Castillo nor his researcher had a motive or reason for omitting attribution for lifted passages to Criddle-Descent or to Ellis."

As gmanews pointed out, the "copied" portions arose from acts of cutting and pasting:

But according to the Supreme Court ruling, Del Castillo did not commit plagiarism because when his researcher "cut" research materials from a law website and "pasted" them on the decision's main manuscript, the attributions were "accidentally deleted."

Microsoft Word was obliquely blamed:

"Microsoft Word program does not have a function that raises an alarm when original materials are cut up or pruned. The portions that remain simply blend in with the rest of the manuscript, adjusting the footnote number and removing any clue that what should stick together had just been severed."

See also

Mariano C. Del Castillo


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