Professor Learns Lesson On Plagiarism: People Use Search Engines

from the that's-why-the-call-it-the-internet dept

Every day it seems people are stumbling upon old ways of finding new information online. Just today we noted companies’ (or the media’s) newfound discovery of web forums. Now, E-Media Tidbits points to a lawyer’s blog posting describing how she accidentally uncovered a history professor’s plagiarized commencement speech. The lawyer, Sally Greene, was using Google to find a quote by Hegel, but in the process found two speeches that used the quote: the first from the well-known academic Cornel West, and the second 10 years later from the lesser-known Bryan LeBeau. After a bit of analysis, Greene discovered that LeBeau had cribbed and slightly tweaked lots of his speech from West’s earlier one. Apparently, LeBeau reproduced some of the speech on a department email list, which he didn’t realize would also be accessible through the internet. The professor now says he was rushed, borrowed the quotes, and spaced on the attribution. He says he’s learned his lesson about attribution, but he might also have been referring to the Google Factor: always assume people can locate and expose your misdeeds, even an obscure 10-minute plagiarized speech.

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