Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Weick Plagiarism Update

Andrew Gelman, who is a steadfast critic of academic plagiarism (I discovered his blog when I was writing about Frank Fischer), has a post up that discusses my work. Also, as we can see from that post, Wikipedia's article on Weick now covers the issue as well.

I have neglected to mention that I recently published an analysis of Weick's response to my charges in the Journal of Organizational Change Management. And the editors of that issue, who include the journal's editor, Slawek Magala, offer a clear statement about why Weick's behaviour is less than exemplary: "Claiming exemption from a taxing criticism of our community bent on the growth of reliable knowledge is a fairly simple attempt to improve one’s standing, but it should not be respected."

Like me, Gelman wonders why plagiarism cases tend to fade away without being fully resolved, without a clear "finding of fact". I think he is right about the "Schroedinger's Cat" effect. In fact, there is a great deal of equivocation in organization theory, whereby stories are told without making clear whether they are allegories or anecdotes or incidents. Even when those words are used, they are not held to the relevant critical standard, whether when being written or being read. Still, contra Nick Cox, the fact that it is a "rural legend", does not excuse the fact that Weick's version is a verbatim transcription. If Malcolm Gladwell tells a familiar story in the New Yorker, I am allowed to tell it without citing him (because it's a well-known legend, etc.). But I'm not allowed to use Gladwell's words. I'm allowed to summarize the plot of Hamlet without citing everyone else who has done so. But I'm not allowed to use 144 words of some minor scholar's article on Hamlet to do it.

I'm going to use the occasion to write more about this subject this week.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

Even German politicians who plagiarize can continue being in the public eye (just not as politicians, at least not for a while).