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Plagiarism: a study in the spectacular fall of Dr. Chris Spence!

Plagiarizing the Plagiarist

There is no question that Chris Spence’s fall from grace was painful and sobering for all parties.  In her research, Blum (2009) observes, “Mention plagiarism, and certain writers’ names are bound to come up.  The public appears fascinated by plagiarism, a sin for which only some of the prominent are likely to be singled out and even fewer punished.” (p. 16)

In the course of my research, I have encountered an interesting phenomenon.  As it turns out, Dr. Spence’s plagiarized article, Without school sports, everyone loses, has in-turn been plagiarized!

Perhaps Blum is correct in noting that it is only the plagiarists who happen to be prominent public figures whom are singled out for reputation destroying commentary.

In my opinion, it is one thing to plagiarize, and quite another to plagiarize from a well documented and public case of plagiarism.  In some ways, these examples are even more of an insult to journalism ethics.

Lincolnshire Sport

This organization aims to engage residents in physical activity and promote the playing of sports across the English county.  Working with a variety of partners, creating and managing special events and programs, they aim to foster the national goals of well-being and fitness at the regional level. (Lincolnshire Sport, “About us”, 2015)

On September 19, 2014, Lincolnshire Sport published a story containing nearly identical and unattributed language to that found in Dr. Spence’s plagiarized article.

The story was published with the following title:  Without school sport, everyone loses

(http://lincolnshiresport.com/news/2014/09/without-school-sport-everyone-loses)

First, the author uses an almost identical title.

Second, here is a very similar passage.

Lincolnshire Sport article:

“And while the physical benefits that sport provide to children are evident, we must also remember that the psychological and social benefits are abundant as well.” (Blake, 2014)

Dr. Spence’s article:

“And while the physical benefits that sports provide to children are evident, we must also remember that the psychological and social benefits are plentiful as well.” (Spence, 2013, A15)

Deccan Herald

This newspaper has faithfully served the people of Karnataka, India for over fifty years.  According to its website, the newspaper’s agenda is comprised of a “relentless campaign against corruption…” (Deccan Herald, “About Us”, 2015)

On January 8, 2015 the Deccan Herald published a story containing nearly identical and unattributed language to that found in Dr. Spence’s plagiarized article.

The story was published with the following title:  Sports for good academic spirit

(http://www.deccanherald.com/content/452158/sports-good-academic-spirit.html)

Deccan Herald article:

“Students are challenged by sports to use their minds in guiding bodies through the dimensions of time and space in the field of play. Learning the skills of sports offers multiple opportunities to taste success.” (Antony, 2015)

Dr. Spence’s article: (this passage was plagiarized from Anita L. Defrantz’s New York Times piece)

“We are challenged through sport to use our minds in guiding our bodies through the dimensions of time and space on the field of play. Learning the skills of sport provides opportunity to experience success.” (Spence, 2013, A15)

Deccan Herald article:

“As obesity rates soar for our children, it is more important today than ever to encourage children to participate in physical activity.” (Antony, 2015)

Dr. Spence’s article: (this passage was plagiarized from an Encyclopedia.com entry)

“As obesity rates soar for children in Canada, it is more important than ever to encourage children to participate in physical activity.” (Spence, 2013, A15)

Deccan Herald article:

“And while the physical benefits that sports provide to children are evident, we must also remember that the psychological and social benefits are plentiful as well.” (Antony, 2015)

Dr. Spence’s article:

“And while the physical benefits that sports provide to children are evident, we must also remember that the psychological and social benefits are plentiful as well.” (Spence, 2013, A15)

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