Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I like the Smart Bitches blog a lot, but I am getting a little tired of statements like: "But the reaction never changes. Within the community of writers, some bring up the issue as a matter of educational opportunity; others wish we’d stop talking about it already ... the lack of an effective reaction to the plagiarism itself is frustrating."
I am happy to talk about plagiarism, but how about discussing something to do about it other than go to talks where it will be explained to us in words of two syllables or less (it's stealing words; it's bad; really, really bad.)
Plagiarism happens. Various people catch plagiarists. Plagiarists suffer the consequences of their actions. We all support that (with the usual marginal exceptions). Many of us write letters of protest, boycott books, spread the word. Seriously, here we are with our pitchforks, loading rabid ferrets into the trebuchet.
Talking about it is fine but how about talking about doing something about it instead of talking about how people are sick of just talking about it. Yes, people will still do it. People will still be caught doing it. It will still be bad. They will still get in trouble. Like sands through the hourglass, some undergraduates and some authors will continue to plagiarise--because you can't cure stupid.
What is this reaction we are all meant to be having? For full participation a few clues might be in order. Or is it an error to take independent action rather than mobilise as an orange-jumpsuited minion (and go listen to people's talks).
So, what shall we do about plagiarism?