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Plagiarism - Case B6

Dr. Alice Charles, a mid-career scientist, was revising and updating a book chapter. This led her to review other articles on the same subject to help determine what new material to cover. During the course of her reading, she came upon a chapter in a major text by Dr. Chris Long, a departmental chair at a leading medical school, that contained long passages from her previous chapter without attribution.

Dr. Charles called Dr. Long and confronted him with her finding. At first, he vehemently denied having used any of Dr. Charles's text inappropriately. Dr. Charles then faxed Dr. Long copies of the offending passages. After some delay, Dr. Long finally responded, acknowledging that the language was indeed remarkably similar. Dr. Long noted that he had engaged younger members of his research group to write portions of the chapter because he was very busy at the time that the deadline was approaching. Furthermore, to defend himself, he pointed out that much of the original research on which her chapter was based was derived from the work of his laboratory .He admitted only to negligence in not adequately monitoring the activities of his subordinates.

Dr. Charles replied that the subordinates were not acknowledged in Dr. Long's chapter either, and that admission of plagiarism required more than an apology. She indicated her intention to report the matter to Dr. Long' s dean and the editor of the text.

Questions:

  1. Did Dr. Charles act appropriately? Would you have done anything differently? Considering the difference in status between herself and Dr. Long, was she taking a professional risk?
  2. Did Dr. Long do anything wrong? What if he were copying his own previous writings?
  3. How would you have handled this matter if you were Dr. Long and were confronted with Dr. Charles's revelations?
  4. If you were Dr. Long's dean, how would you handle Dr. Charles's letter, which contained copies of the plagiarized texts?
  5. Upon hearing Dr. Charles's complaint, what would you do as editor of Dr. Long's textbook?
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