Plagarism in Academia


Hey Folks,

I am really interested to hear people's opinions on this particular issue. I'm interested to know how wide spread plagiarism is in academia. I don't mean students copying assignments, I mean plagiarism of a more serious nature like researchers passing off the work of other people in their labs or departments and having it published or patented.

I see this as one of the most serious impediments to progression in any field of inquiry. I think that advancing the state of knowledge particularly in the sciences really necessitates open collaboration and communication amongst the peers of that discipline. Yet such doing so can really result in a researcher having their best ideas, theories and methods being used, published and patented by other researchers without any form of recognition what so ever. It is kind of sad really but it does appear to be the rule rather than the exception.

I find it remarkable what some people get away with in this respect. My ex-PhD supervisor has been accused by a number of people who worked with him of effectively stealing research from other people at his old university as well as his own post docs and making money in the process and one of his research associates claims to have evidence of this. I have no doubt that he speaks the truth. My supervisor himself once said to me that one of the post docs he worked with during his PhD accused him of stealing his research and I did notice on a couple of occasions about how easily he "seemed" to confuse his ideas with other people's

This guy is a lecturer at one of the best universities in the UK ( oxbridge ). I once heard one of his post docs say Dr X happens to be full of great ideas, the problem is they just happen to be other people's ideas.

I've seen him present the work of undergraduate students at project meetings (without acknowledging them) to make it look as if the project we were working on was making great strides when in fact it wasn't and I often wonder how many of his so called ideas and project proposals come from his undergraduate students, who from what I saw were generally very bright and did some outstanding research for their projects.

I'm really amazed how far people can get in academia with such obvious indications of dishonesy and plagiarism levied against them.


I've come across this as well, although not with my sup involved. The student who had his work nicked kicked up such a stink he was eventually placed as first author on a paper. Goes to show: if it happens fight for recognition.


My suspicion is that what you describe is predominantly a problem in science where there a loads of authors on papers, everyone ublishes loads of papers, and the question of who's contributed what in the lab can be a bit blurred at the best of times, allowing anyone who is unscrupulous to take full advantage. It's much harder in other subjects where single authored work is the norm and where if you suddenly started publishing on something there'd been no signs of you working on, then alarm bells would ring.
If you or others have evidence of actual plagiarism, i.e. theft of work published elsewhere, why don't you complain to the journal that's published the work? Science journals do investigate and retract articles if there's proof.


Hi there,

Yes I think you are right. What I am talking about is very much geared towards the sciences. In essence, the person  who has claimed that my supervisor had been stealing other peoples research found a paper published based on work from a PhD students thesis without their acknowledgement. It sounds pretty serious although it doesn't appear to be as simple as just running to the journal. This post doc still works in the same lab and I can't imagine making these allegations against his supervisor will do his career any good. Even when he leaves he will have to be careful about how he proceeds. This particular field is a small incestuous field and this particular supervisor is very manipulative and could very well make things difficult for this post doc if he tries to take him down.
Personally I won't get involved unless I have all the facts and even though I'd like to see the supervisor taken down a peg or two it really isn't in my interest to do so as there might be a chance I re-apply to the university to do a PhD in the coming years.

I'm sure he will get what is coming to him eventually