Monday, April 03, 2006

Research and Plagiarism

I wrote a while ago about research and plagiarism mentioning along the way that Raj Persaud was being investigated for plagiarism. The investigation is continuing but according to the Guardian both the British Medical Journal and Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry have retracted articles by him because he copied from an American academic, Prof. Thomas Blass.

Blass was reported in the Guardian thus: "The alleged plagiarism came to light when Thomas Blass, professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, happened upon Dr Persaud's article. The piece, entitled 'Why The Media Refuses To Obey', was about the social psychologist Stanley Milgram, famous for his 1963 "obedience" experiments, when people were encouraged to "electrocute" peers as punishment for a mistake. Professor Blass has written a book and numerous articles on Milgram. He said he was shocked by the similarity between Dr Persaud's piece and his work. "I am reading it [Dr Persaud's piece] and all of my words are echoing back at me," he told the Guardian. "He had taken paragraphs from my work, word for word. Over 50% of his piece was my work, which I have spent more than 10 years researching. I felt outrage, disbelief and incredulity this could happen, that a person who is himself a writer could do this. It's very disconcerting.""

Persaud put it down to a cut and paste error.

This has now been taken a step further and Persaud will not be presenting BBC Radio Four's psychiatry programme, All in the Mind. The Guardian quoted the BBC saying, "Dr Raj Persaud offered to stand down until this matter was resolved. The forthcoming series will be presented by a series of guest presenters, including Claire Hammond and Tanya Byron."

I hope for the sake of all concerned that this is sorted out soon. Plagiarism is one of the worst crimes in the academic world and one that is besetting students more and more. Ultimately, it leaves an awful smell in its wake.

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