Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It’s Still Plagiarism when You Steal from a Press Release

This morning I saw an interesting piece on Andrew Sullivan’s blog talked about extracting biodeisel from spent coffee grounds (James is skeptical). What caught my eye was that the piece Sullivan quoted made reference to “the ACS Journal Energy & Fuels,” which clearly should be “the ACS journal Energy & Fuels” (note the placement of the italics).

I wondered if Sullivan or the person who wrote the press release got it wrong, and when I clicked on his link, I was taken to a blog named Physics.org. The article was there, now given a byline of Vicky Just. The mistaken italics were still there. Since Physics.org didn’t seem to be related to any university or research institute, lines like
Dr Chris Chuck, Whorrod Research Fellow from our Department of Chemical Engineering
A blog with its own department of Chemical Engineering, now that would be something!

More research. Dr. Chuck is at the University of Bath. Ms. Just copied the press release from the university’s web site word for word, failing to even change “our Department of Chemical Engineering” to “the department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath.”

I know there are blogs out there that are nothing more than aggregations of things written elsewhere, and that press departments are happy to see their work get disseminated (they don’t care about the clicks), but putting your name on something you didn’t write should violate even the (minimal) ethical standards of blogging. If nothing else, you should be subject to online abuse.

Shame on Ms. Just for her truly lazy work.
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