For years I’ve been trying to convince somebody to make a sandwich board out of their poster, or to use their cloth poster as a cape (see my Designing conference posters for more gratuitous tips). It would just be a great way to jazz up an otherwise slow poster session, and could enable motivated individuals to advertize their research by cruising the conference halls prior to the session. My wait is over, with huge thanks to Dr Joy Drinnon and undergraduates at Milligan College:
The book, Clear and Concise Communications for Scientists and Engineers, has been recalled by CRC Press due to plagiarism (of me). Or at least they said it was going to be recalled: it is still available for purchase at CRC Press a week after their lawyer gave me the news. But CRC Press / Francis & Taylor / Informa is a massive corporation, so perhaps these things take time.
Anyway, it was nice of CRC to so quickly acknowledge and act on the plagiarism rather than accuse me of plagiarizing them. They also said they would be happy to give refunds to anyone who had already purchased the book.
My only complaint is that they refused to make a public statement about the recall and the reason. In my informal research (previous post), most publishers involved in plagiarism cases do tend to make some sort of statement … even if they initially don’t want to. If CRC wanted to better promote its anti-plagiarism policy to potential authors, making press statements about recalled books would be a wise idea.
Publishers should also get in the habit of running every book through plagiarism-detection software: the sections copy/pasted from my site (Designing conference posters) would have been flagged instantly. But what publisher these days isn’t doing this? Taylor & Francis certainly does it. So the question I have is, why did CRC Press/editor not contact me when those pages were flagged?
By the way, there were a lot of sentences about plagiarism in the book. None of these sentences was plagiarized from my page on plagiarism. Now that would be hilarious.
Just because I was curious … here’s how various publishers have dealt with books that contained plagiarism. Of course, publishers don’t always make public statements about such things, so if you have additions or corrections, please let me know. Similarly, it’s hard to figure out whether the source authors took the plagiarizer (and/or publisher) to court. I know I have 19 in the list … am sort of reserving #20.
- Roots (Alex Haley 1976). Doubleday & Company was publisher. Amazon still sells this book. Haley was taken to court by author of The African, which Haley mined for characters, plot, quotes, etc. [details]
- The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys (Doris Kearns Goodwin 1987). I gather she settled with one of her “sources” (Lynne McTaggart) before the plagiarism news was released. Goodwin requested that all copies be destroyed. [details]
- Alexander Graham Bell: A Life (James Mackay 1989). He apparently paid the John Wiley & Sons to have the book recalled … as part of deal to avoid being sued by Robert V. Bruce. Mackay was caught plagiarizing his next book, by the way. [details]
- The Survivor Personality (Patsy Westcott 1995). Bloomsbury Publishers recalled all the books and had them destroyed. Amazon sells used copies of this book. [details]
- When Love Calls (Gail A. McFarland 1999). BET Publications recalled the book. You can still buy used copies on Amazon. Gina Wilkins, who was the author plagiarized, won an out-of-court settlement. [details]
- The Wild Blue (Stephen Ambrose 2001). Simon & Schuster publishes paperback with plagiarism removed. [details]
- Captain Henry Wirz and Andersonville Prison: A Reappraisal (R. Fred Ruhlman 2006). University of Tennessee Press recalled the book. [details]
- How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life (Kaavya Viswanathan 2006). Little, Brown and Company recalled book, cancelled book deal with author. [details]
- Shadow Bear (Cassie Edwards 2008). Signet said it found no evidence of plagiarism, then claimed the plagiarism was “fair use”, then decided to part ways with Edwards. [details]
- Free (Chris Anderson 2009). Hyperion didn’t pull version with plagiarized passages, but did promise to correct future editions. [details]
- Axolotl Roadkill (Helene Hegemann 2010). Ullstein bought rights from plagiarized author, then republished book. [details]
- How We Decide (Jonah Lehrer 2010). Pulled by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [details]
- Assassin of Secrets (Quentin Rowan 2011). Little, Brown and Company issued apology, recalled all books from online, brick-and-mortar stores, offered full refund to anyone who purchased book. [details]
- The Raven’s Bride (Lenore Hart 2011). St Martin’s Press defends author. The best response to this defense is a Poe via the blog, The World of Edgar Allan Poe: “All I can do is offer some more words of wisdom from Mr. Poe himself: ‘To attempt the rebutting of a charge of plagiarism by the broad assertion that no such thing as plagiarism exists, is a sotticism, and no more.’ “ [Here's the definition of sotticism.] Amazon still sells this book.
- You’re Looking Well (Lewis Wolpert 2011). Faber and Faber stopped selling the book in 2014. Though it seems to be on Amazon. He plagiarized parts of his next book, it appears. [details]
- Imagine (Jonah Lehrer 2012). Houghton Mifflin recalled all copies, reimbursed people if they wanted to bring in copy to where they bought it. [details]
- Government Bullies (Rand Paul 2012). Center Street promised to fix the “misunderstanding.” [details]
- A Call to Resurgence (Mark Driscoll 2013). InterVarsity Press seemed sorry, and explained how author erred, but I don’t think it recalled the book. [details]
- Seeds of Hope (Jane Goodall with Gail Hudson 2013). Grand Central (Hachette) had author(s) rework the book for new publication. Hachette made public announcements about recall, reasons. [details]
Turnitin, the leading provider of plagiarism-detection software, is ubiquitous at the high school and college level. But I’ve always wondered if and when the service will be used in middle schools and, gasp, elementary schools. Well, Turnitin recently answered my query: middle schools are adopting it at “a fine clip,” but usage among elementary schools is rare. That latter, nonzero number is interesting — I would love to know how those elementary school teachers use it, potentially when some of their students cannot even read yet. As I’ve written elsewhere, elementary school is probably the best time to teach about authorship and honesty — it’s in those early grades that kids learn how to cut-and-paste, the plagiarizer’s favorite tool.
And for those districts that start using it with first graders, that means students will be exposed to plagiarism discussions for a good 12 years before they hit their first college course — that’s just amazing. If you’ve ever taught college students, you’ll know that when caught cheating, the top excuse is “but I didn’t know it was plagiarism … we never learned about that in high school.” With up to 12 (twelve!!) years of exposure, that certainly will be a lame excuse … though I’m sure they’ll still use it.
If anyone does research on the risk factors contributing to plagiarism among college students, it would be interesting to look at how their grade school teachers dealt with the plagiarism issue (ostriching, Turnitin, etc.). If you do it, please let me know …
UPDATE: please see this page for updated slides and additional tips.
Here are tips for educators on how to attribute images in a Powerpoint slide deck (hit pause button to assert manual control of the slide advance). The tips are focused on the logistics of attribution (placement, text color, etc.) since the law aspect is, um, complicated. It’s just a draft, so if you have suggestions, let me know in comments or via email. I made it because very, very few educators seem to provide image credits. Or at least the ones who post their slides online …
In other news, my other thoughts on Powerpoint.
And, since you’re reading below the fold … any advice on getting WordPress to display Powerpoint slides so that URLs work? I’ve tried several plug-ins, but nothing seems to work.