Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Plagiarizing Star

As a preparation for my trip to England I purchased a "Times" at the Schipol airport. The format and the style sure have changed, but at least there is a lot of opinion still in the paper. And lo and behold, one of my favorite English commentators, Libby Purves, had a comment about the English university system and a current plagiarist who is a TV star, Raj Persaud. The piece is called "The shame of our lap-dancing universities."

The plagiarist in question was also a hot topic at breakfast, except that no one could remember his name, it was just "that TV doctor guy". His license to practice medicine as a psychiatrist has been suspended for three months on account of blatant plagiarism. Persaud has admitted to publishing the works of others, for example a paper that had to be withdrawn from Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry after the real author of the piece on the Milgram experiment, Thomas Blass, noted that over 50% of the paper was lifted from his work. Persaud didn't understand the fuss, it was just a "typographical error" here.

For another paper, Persaud had asked a colleague for permission to use his works - and then copied it word for word without quotation marks or source.

He was only suspended for three months - and continue practicing after that - because he didn't actually harm a patient, didn't gain financially from the plagiarism, and didn't defraud any funding organizations. They are also sure that it won't happen again, which is rather surprising, seeing that he seems to be a repeat offender. He stepped down from his radio show in 2006 when accusations of plagiarism arose, but returned in 2007, the BBC reports. I wonder if anyone had checked up on his thesis work? Do we really want plagiarists practicing medicine and building bridges and airplanes?

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