In a February 10 blog, Gerald Posner did his best to explain an onslaught of plagiarism accusations, and his subsequent resignation from The Daily Beast.
While it is not uncommon for journalists to own up to acts of misconduct (particulary when it is discovered the one was , in fact, many), I was dismayed by one comment:
“Clearly, if I were a serial plagiarizer, I would have scanned my own drafts with such [plagiarism detection] software before submitting to the Beast.”
Now Jack Shafer, who ultimately broke the Posner plagiarism story in a Slate piece, did a wonderful job responding to Posner’s assertion in a February 11 follow-up …
“But examples of plagiarized stories found by me and Slatereaders establish that Posner is a serial plagiarist! Of that there is no dispute! That he didn’t scan his drafts with software before submitting them to the Daily Beast doesn’t prove he isn’t a serial plagiarist.”
Shafer did well to point out Posner was exactly that which he claimed not to be, but I wanted to further address a growing misconception about plagiarism detection technology. I will not dispute that in many cases organizations and/or individuals may choose the unethical path of using plagiarism detection software to shadow misconduct.
I think it more common, though, Mr. Posner, that organizations and individuals employ plagiarism detection software for the simple purpose of quality control.
A good example regards our company’s relationship with journal publishers. More than 75 global scientific, technical and medical publishers have deployed the iThenticate Plagiarism Checker to supplement the editorial review. Bill Hagen, Manager of Intellectual Property Rights at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), was poignant in his analysis of his organization’s use of plagiarism detection software:
“We’re glad to see so many societies embracing CrossCheck [powered by iThenticate], because it helps to protect the integrity of IEEE’s publications program and, by extension, all of IEEE.”
Plagiarism detection software can, and should, be a proactive effort to supplement quality assurance processes. Used in this fashion, the technology can prove a critical component to a successful business model.