Monday, June 16, 2008

Plagiarism, Persaud, and Perfidy

Over two years ago Persaud's lifting of Thomas Blass' work on Stanley Milgram landed him in trouble (see here also). Persaud is a media psychiatrist who presents a number of programs on British television. Since the demise of Anthony Clare, the doyen of this group, Persaud has tried to take over. Persaud's problem is that he spread himself too thinly and something had to give.

In Persaud's case it was originality with a move to plagiarism. Persaud is an academic as well and he well understands how academics deplore plagiarism. Today he faced charges of dishonesty before the General Medical Council which has the power to strike him off the medical register.

The BBC reported:
Three years ago an article was withdrawn from Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry after US professor Thomas Blass claimed that "over 50% was my work".

At the time, Dr Persaud apologised for the error and told the Guardian newspaper that it had been a cutting and pasting error which meant some references had been omitted.

A second article was retracted by the British Medical Journal "owing to unattributed use of text from other published sources".

"Cutting and pasting" is the usual excuse with forgetting to add the citation.


Jeremy Donne QC, GMC counsel, accused Dr Persaud of enhancing his own reputation at the expense of the hard work and scholarship of other people.

"The articles, we say, speak for themselves and they all demonstrate the extent Dr Persaud has appropriated the work of others as his own."

Academics spend years studying and researching their ideas, usually without much thought for commercial gain. That's not the reason we are academics. So to have someone steal your ideas, is to have them steal your soul.

I have seen it happen to others and it's happened to me. It's theft. And so at first you don't believe it's really occurred. Then all the emotions associated with theft arise: anger, hurt, wonder. It damages one's feeling of trust. Persaud is a psychiatrist: he of all people ought to understand that.