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Author Topic: Plagiarism, or the theft of someones words or work without acrediting them  (Read 2940 times)

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Plagiarism, or the theft of someoneís words or work without accrediting him or her or them for it.


On several occasions now I have become aware of my own work being plagiarised, Fortunately, not in the Naked Scientists Forum.

Having done a search, I can find very little discussion on this subject, which should concern every single scientist involved in research.

But Plagiarising comes in many forms and the link provided gives a good explanation of the various kinds of plagiarism. Some claims against a plagiarist can begin simply when an article has been cited improperly, though this would in reality mean 99.9% of the Internet may eventually end up in the dock at some point.

I think the main consensus is when new discoveries are claimed by people who often have pathways to publication open to them that the originator does not have at their disposal. Fortunately, anything posted and dated on the Internet that pre-dates authorís fraudulent claims of originality will provide compelling evidence as prior publication of the subject matter. And of course the odd press cutting or television and radio article comes in handy when trying to prove ownership.

Example: Around 20 years ago, I wrote to British Rail with a new design for what I called at the time a Land Ferry. This was to make use of the railway and vastly relieve traffic congestion on the roads. The Idea was beautifully simple and logical involving a 2-level train where cars and trucks could drive onto a train and enjoy a traffic jam / stress free journey over many miles, possibly watching a film, enjoying a meal or simply completing important work on route.
Admittedly this would require quite a number of bridges being modified to take the much taller trains, but nevertheless far less environmentally harming than building more and more roads and extending and widening more and more motorways to allow more and more vehicles to emit more and more pollution.

In fact substituting a few hundred engines for one electric engine would go a long long way to addressing much of the pollution and congestion we now have to endure every single day.

Alas British Rail wrote to me saying the idea was wonderful but could not see a way to facilitate it at this point, and thanked me for taking an interest in their services. Nothing, not even a free platform ticket for my efforts.

The Channel Tunnel is todayís example of my vision all those years ago, for future transport, and now the trains run to Paris From London which is exactly what I envisaged that should happen in the U.K and the rest of the world, except for the tunnel underground, that was not in my line of thought and perhaps a little more ambitious than my plan for a land ferry service, which incidentally is still not in place and definitely should be in order to dramatically reduce the congestion and emissions.
So Mr Richard Branson, if you are reading this and would like to extend Virgin Rail a little more please donít hesitate to contact me.

Sorry, back on track with plagiarism. It is more likely that theoretical work will become subject to plagiarism, and the best ways to protect your literature is to say nothing to anyone about it, which is pointless and selfish. Alternatively to provide proof of originality you can post a well sealed tamper proof letter to yourself in a registered envelope ( again with risks of being lost in our wonderful postal service) or put the design / idea in a bank vault and obtain a reference for it. Or apply for a patent (Too many bad memories to be a little more positive about this route).

One you have evidence of originality claims to the idea, theory, process, item you are in a position to defend against the plagiarist.

Now, unless you are absolutely loaded, you may find that you are not financially in a position to defend your claims of origination and find that all of the effort you have put in place is not worth the paper it is written on. This is where the plagiarist scores, hoping that even if the fraud is revealed, he / she will be in a position to throw money into itís defence than you are.

So there are two ways to prevent plagiarism, one is to tell no one and the other is to tell everyone. Where better than on the Internet where digital data is kept for many years free of charge by search engines like Google. And the beauty is that once published on the Internet you have in fact published the idea into the public domain, proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that your name was attached to it prior to it being plagiarised.

An argument against this that springs to mind is that someone could still claim they thought of it first, but then the onus would be on them to prove they had a prior claim date.

I hope you will find this discussion to be of use.

Andrew

The link below is a good strating point to get to know the full meaning of this plagiarism

http://www.plagiarism.org/learning_center/what_is_plagiarism.html


 

another_someone

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An argument against this that springs to mind is that someone could still claim they thought of it first, but then the onus would be on them to prove they had a prior claim date.

Don't see this as an issue of plagiarism as such.

As I understand it, plagiarism is the theft of published work as your own - that they 'thought' of it before is not a defence - that they published it before you published it is a defence (but should easily be provable).

There is a bigger problem with plagiarism - that it is a defence that each party developed their ideas with prior knowledge of the other parties work (unlike patents, the argument about plagiarism is closer to copyright than to patent, and so it does not give the author a monopoly on the idea, only a protection against unattributed copying of the published work).

There are other issues of confidentiality of unpublished work, but for this to apply to have to ensure that the people involved are placed under an obligation of confidentiality.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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My main exposure to plagiarism was essays submitted by students when I was a lecturer. Most of the time they were pretty easy to spot as you get used to each student's style of writing. Or, of course, you see more-or-less the same wording crop up in essays by different students.

You'd think university students would have more sense that to copy from suggested text books, but no. We often found entire paragraphs lifted verbatim from books that we, as lecturers, had to know inside-out. How dumb can you get!

If it was beyond any doubt that the student had plagiarised, their essay was discarded with no points awarded no matter how good the rest of the work was. If, however, it was only a suspicion then we simply kept a closer eye on future work.
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Never done that at school Eth but knew of a few people that did, probably why I didn't get good grades :)

George, I think you can protect work against plagiarism in the U.K, the rest of Europe and the USA and Canada, automatically, just by recording it in any format providing it can be dated and confirmed later at the date of saving it. Publication is not a requirement and therefore publishing someone elses work and claiming it is your own would not stand up in a courtroom.
The same applies to anythin you or I write, automatic rights are given to us in law.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Andrew - the problem is proving the date it was recorded. Date & time on computers can be altered to reflect an earlier date.

As an example - I was a witness in a court case a while back. Someone I know was accused of burglary. I was his alibi insofar as he had been with me at the time and I had timestamped photos of him miles from the scene. These were not allowed as evidence as the date & time on my camera could be altered. (He was found not guilty in the end anyway)

With my music, I use the method mentioned earlier - record it & send it to myself in a registered envelope. I then lodge the envelope in escrow.
 

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