Economist claims in study that plagiarism goes unpunished

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Most academic disciplines largely trust a decentralized approach to policing potential instances of plagiarism, counting on scholars to report situations when they occur, and journal editors or academic administrators to respond to and punish breaches upon learning about them. The assumption that wrongdoing will eventually become known, and that a cheater’s reputation will be destroyed (along, not unimportantly, with fears of legal dangers for getting involved) has led most scholarly societies to avoid playing a direct role in policing academic misconduct. (One disciplinary group that did investigate charges of plagiarism, the American Historical Association, gave up doing so in 2003.)

That approach makes sense if the appropriate people are fulfilling their appropriate roles in that informal system, says Gary A. Hoover, an associate professor of economics at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. But Hoover, whose personal experiences as a victim of academic piracy have led him to study the state of plagiarism within his chosen field, argues that the system falls down if incidents don’t get reported to those with the power to punish the perpetrators, or if those with that power don’t act.

And too often they don’t, Hoover argued in a presentation made to a group of government economists in Washington on Friday, based on a series of surveys and papers he has produced on the subject of economics plagiarism....

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