I’m sure everyone’s been reading about the recent plagiarism issue over on Story Siren (thanks to Liz Burns for the great round-up). My friend Chuck talks about the “kitchen sinking” that often happens when something like this occurs.
It’s beyond the question of citation, though. There’s the question of consequences. When I was at Hamilton College, we signed an Honor Code statement that the school took very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that the President, Eugene Tobin, resigned when his lack of citing a book review was caught. More recently, the President of Hungary was forced to resign. The examples go on and on… but then there’s the case of Doris Kearns Goodwin who has managed to evade serious consequences from her plagiarism issue.
So ultimately, what will the consequences in this case be? Or in this case, highlighted in the WSJ’s Best of the Web column. Both writers have taken the questionable content down. In the Story Siren case, there’s been a lot of vitriol between her supporters and those of the two victims. In the WSJ case, this “apology” was issued: Note: Creators Syndicate mistakenly sent through the wrong text for Joe Conason’s column. The following is Conason’s updated column for this week.
In thinking about how to approach this with students, it’s important to differentiate the plagiarism from the public outcry. It’s always been important to speak with them about what plagiarism is, how to avoid it and what the consequences could be – now it’s equally important to work with them on protecting their own on-line work and how to respond appropriately (whether they’re responding to someone accused of it or being accused themselves.