Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Copy Cat

I have been invited to write a review (yay!). I caught my post-doc plagiarizing for my review (boo!). The post-doc is helping me write the review, and he turned his half into me recently. It looked a bit disjointed at first glance. When I started to compare the post-doc's writing to the references cited, I noticed some startling similarities. He cut and paste the abstracts into the review, only bothering to change a few words. If I hadn't caught this now, it would have been published and my career would be over. Over. I'd be banned from publishing at certain places. I was so mad. (Why do I spend most of my work time being angry?)

So, the post-doc is awesome in the lab. I know he isn't making up his data because I'm really on top of what's going on in the lab. I look at raw data files, etc. and others can reproduce his work. I decided to be really stern, but not to kick him out. He brings a great attitude to the lab, has a great work ethic, and produces. We talked about the plagiarism, and he admitted it. I asked him if he did that with his grad adviser, to which he replied no. I think he got lazy, had a deadline, and took the path of least of persistence. I told him that I was going to scrutinize every single word he gave me in the future, and that he almost cost me my career. I can't tell if it sunk in. If it happens again, he's fired - and he knows it.


Anonymous said...

Foreigners plagiarize all of the time. They don't know any different.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous 10:08pm is correct. Some cultures have very different standards of acknowledging others work. But I don`t see where there is a mention of a foreigner in the blog post, unless it is inferred from plagiarizer+good work ethic because that never occurs to non-foreigners people. We don`t have good work ethics.

Anyway this non-foreigner recently almost plagiarized. I wrote my intro and was looking over a review article that I had read once 9 months before when I realized that two full sentences had an uncanny similarity. I even wrote 5-6 words in exactly the same order.


David said...

Sometimes talented people do awful mistakes, that they regret on later. Just don't do it, don't look for shortcuts.

Anonymous said...

I am Annonymous 10:08. I just assumed it was a "foreigner" because 99% of engineering post-docs are not from the U.S. Furthermore, any U.S. post-doc would have been immediately horrified if they had been caught plagiarizing and JP would not have had to wonder if her scolding had "sunk in" because it would have if it were someone from a culture that understood plagiarizing is bad.

Anonymous said...

Not to be disrespectful, but why are you having post-doc help you write a review? Shouldn't you be writing it all yourself, especially if it is only your name going on it? Is this common in your field?

Janus Professor said...

Yes, it is normal for reviews to be group efforts in this neck of the woods. Everyone had a specific section to write, including myself. Then, we glued it together with copious editing.

chall said...

Anon 1 & 2
"foreigners do that all the time"? really?

'Cuse this foreigner, but that's a rather ignorant statement. As well as not going to save you from recognizing it happening in your lab before it's too late.... good luck.

Janus Prof, it's nice to give post doc another chance and I hope they realise the error and how WRONG it was. I can't understand why they wouldn't refrence and rewrite?!