Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Distinguished Professor and Student Plagiarize Together

In 2004, Dr. Maliski, Dr. Kalinowski, and Dr. Dobrucki published an article in Circulation magazine. But rather than writing all of their publication they copied from a 2001 article published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

To show you I have highlighted the plagiarized text here. The source of the copied text can be viewed here. In comparing the two publications, it is interesting to note that the true authors acted professionally when they properly cited their sources, but when the Malinski et. al. team copied the text they removed all the citations.

It will be interesting to see if Ohio University leaders take any action against Dr. Malinski and Dr. Dobrucki. Will they revoke Dr. Dobrucki's doctoral degree? Will they strip Dr. Malinski of his distinguished professor title? Will they contact Circulation Magazine to inform them that they published copied text? Will an expert be called in to verify the legitimacy of the entire article? Will they check all of the work approved by Dr. Malinski? Will anyone apologize to the scholars whose work was stolen?


Michael Pyshnov said...

Hi, Tom! You should see this:

Michael Pyshnov

Harbinger said...

Here’s some well-intended food for thought about plagiarism as we remember and honor our veterans this Veterans Day.

Universities, and to a lesser extent the public, seem paralyzed by the egregious behavior of some professors and seem very reluctant to hold them accountable by severely punishing them for their misdeeds. In the case of plagiarism, an explanation might be that although plagiarism is certainly akin to theft, it is not a crime against the public law and so, right or wrong, the academic world seems unable to embrace it as an anti-intellectual activity warranting harsh penalties for anyone. It should, but it doesn’t, and as a result justice isn’t served. And as a result, it is higher education that pays the ultimate price for this (in terms of loss of both academic integrity and public esteem) instead of the plagiarists.

Like the academy, the military is an institution having a need for disciplinary measures for conduct unbecoming its personnel. Although it also has the ability to deal with crime as it is commonly understood by everyone, here I am trying to separate out misdeeds that are more peculiar to the academic world (more institutionally specific) as apposed to those that are well defined by the American criminal justice system. The military has a longstanding tradition that ought to be seriously considered by the academy as a remedy to its seemingly currently conflicted approach to plagiarism, namely, demotion in rank and in the worst cases, dishonorable discharge.

In applying this military scheme each university would have to decide how serious a problem it deems plagiarism to be. And if it is too lenient too often in too many cases, it will deservedly risk public ridicule and loss of confidence. Most everyone understands the legendary demotion of military miscreants to “buck private” and so the most common university counterpart punishment might be to routinely demote faculty plagiarists (perhaps including self-plagiarists as well as faculty mentoring too many student plagiarists) to the lowest rank of Assistant Professor, restarting their “tenure clock” and reducing their salary to an amount comparable to the starting salary of other assistant professors on campus. For the worst of the worst, yank their tenure and fire them (dishonorable discharge).

From time to time there may be a few exceptional cases warranting some leniency such as (for example) forced early retirement but these cases should be diligently made rare enough to protect the university’s dignity (with the rogue professor’s dignity decidedly secondary). Otherwise leniency granted too often will become the general rule and justice will not be served in most cases. And if justice isn’t served, plagiarism will become commonplace in the academy and society at large. The responsibility for ensuring that this doesn’t happen lies squarely on the shoulders of the academy, where it belongs.

Cheating is growing in the academy. As it becomes more and more routine, something needs to be done to combat it in a consistent (uniform) and effective (punitive) way. Professors’ privileged position in society must be earned. If the academy cannot convince the public that it can protect the society it serves from plagiarism then, despite academic freedom considerations, responsibility for jurisdiction over more and more academic matters (like plagiarism) that threaten the welfare of higher education will have to be outsourced (litigation) in order to remedy them (for better or worse).

P.S.: The problem of incompetent/corrupt professors and what to do with them has been around for a long time. For example, see the 1988 book “ProfScam: Professors and the demise of higher education” by Charles J. Sykes.

Brian Manhire said...

"A two-year-old review paper on advances in using genetically engineered biofuel crops to boost ethanol production was retracted from Nature Reviews Genetics (NRG) because the author stole the bulk of a paragraph from another paper she had peer reviewed....Sticklen told The Scientist that her mistake was inadvertent, precipitated by a medical condition that affected her memory and cognition. ‘All I know is that I did not do wrong,’ she said."

Plagiarism retracts review