6th International Integrity & Plagiarism Conference:
Promoting authentic assessment
What can the education sector learn from the growing number of allegations of plagiarism which seem to surface continually in the world of politics, media and celebrity? These high profile cases illustrate that plagiarism is a metaphorical time bomb, where seemingly long-buried indiscretions can be uncovered in later life and authors called to account. While recognition of the problem is a step in the right direction, we need to do more to proactively promote integrity and endorse positive action within educational institutions.
The 6th International Integrity and Plagiarism Conference will seek to emphasise the importance of academic integrity as a way of life and reaffirm the relevance of academic skills in the real world, where these values should ultimately be rewarded, applauded and celebrated.
Whistleblowers on Plagiarism and the Moral Grey Area- Rui Sousa-Silva
In recent years, several cases of plagiarism attracted media attention worldwide, due to the high profile of the suspected plagiarists. The highest profile cases involved politicians, such as the German Defence Minister Guttenberg (2011), the Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta (2012), and the German Education Minister Schavan (2013). The two German ministers had their doctoral titles rescinded and eventually resigned. In both cases, the instances of plagiarism were detected and made public by whistleblowers, who publicly demonstrated that two ministers had plagiarised (substantial)parts of their theses. The serious impact of these cases led into discussing the possibility that anonymous allegations of plagiarism would no longer be investigated, and moreover that a statute of limitation on the investigation of suspected plagiarism cases could be introduced. The possible implications of a decision of this nature, if adopted, raise some questions. This paper presents, on the one hand, some arguments for whistleblowers, while, on the other hand, challenging some presumptions of whistleblowing, in order to discuss, from a forensic linguistics perspective, the ethical implications behind it. In particular, it discusses whether whistleblowers are driven by self-interest or personal motivation, or on the contrary by the common good. The paper concludes that whistleblowing falls into a 'moral g rey area' that deserves the attention of researchers into plagiarism. It is furthermore argued that any decisions made in this respect should be thoroughly considered so as not to negatively impact the application of plagiarism policy, and the unjust application of sanctions in legal and non-legal contexts.
Rui Sousa-Silva has a PhD in Forensic Linguistics and is a researcher of CLUP - Centro de Linguística da Universidade do Porto. He offers Forensic Linguistics services. For further information, visit his website.