Monday, July 25, 2016

Plagiarism in high places

There has been an interesting discussion on the North American information literacy discussion list about how and whether Melania Trump's apparent plagiarism can be used in information literacy education. It has been pointed out that it can also be used to raise discussion of issues such as ghostwriting, and also differing types and degrees of plagiarism. To me, it seems particularly problematic to plagiarise something which is supposed to be about how you feel, but I'm probably just politically naive.
In case you haven't already found them, useful resources are:
The CNN video comparing Melania Trump's and Michelle Obama's speeches:
A BBC multiple-choice quiz (guess who was plagiarised)
It's also interesting how the issue is being discussed in different ways in different media.

Brian Martin has written a lot about his strong opinions on academic integrity, plagiarism, suppression of whistleblowing and what he calls "Institutionalised plagiarism ... when credit for work is routinely attributed wrongly, nearly always to those with more power." (Martin, 2008). His articles could also provide fuel for discussion. This page has his essays and articles, but also chapters by other authors from The handbook of academic integrity (2016) (by the way, I have to ask, what market is this book priced for?! it makes you extra grateful for the extracts published on Martin's website)

Reference: Brian Martin. (2008, 31 October). When ghosts plagiarise. ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
Photo by Sheila Webber: Eliza thinks I may have plagiarised, July 2016

1 comment:

LJ said...

While high-profile commentators are talking about Melania's and Michelle's relatively similar speeches, many are also discussing how their speechwriters have been writing similar content to some other former presidents' wives' speeches. It isn't surprising to learn of this type of thing with Americans' political election speeches. Eddie Murphy stars in a fantastic parody movie, The Distinguished Gentleman, about American politics before President Barrack Obama was elected as US President. In it, Eddie's character, a US Congressman, steals or uses famous speech-lines as he accepts his election from his Florida district. Eddie Murphy said a few lines about the issue being "change; change for the future" and later, a very similar slogan was used by Barack Obama in 2008. If you have not seen the film then I recommend it because it is an interesting film with a decent plot. I'm an Economist and have written papers comparing and contrasting former presidents' speeches, this is not the same thing as plagarism. It is a standards driven and convential sort of mentality. Writing schools try to train students to use effective styles of communication. Plagarism is stealing someone's writing for personal gain, it is not using the same style format.