Academics plagiarizing from blog posts: Not Cool!

This post is a reaction to a Gradient Lair post, specifically, to the part of the latter, where the author talks about academics plagiarizing hir blog posts.

This is deeply uncool. I have been personally guilty of an attitude that blog posts aren’t “real” academic work, even if they’re published on an academic subject. I have been inspired by ideas on blog posts and not cited them in my papers, and that’s plagiarism, and I apologize and will try to do better in the future. I have also experienced this attitude in my colleagues’ work. Blog posts are just informal exchange, they’re not peer-reviewed, so it’s not really plagiarism… well, it is, and it should stop.

I also want to be aware as I’m writing that I’m doing so from a position of privilege, as an academic. I have a Ph.D., and nobody is going to take it away for this blog post. I don’t think it’s fair that, as the author of the post I linked above writes, academics “cannot make content like mine or speak like me if they want to stay in their programs.” Academia is about freedom of expression. Often, it is about being able to stand up to power and entrenched hierarchy because (ideally, at least) you are working outside of it. So, I am sad that it is happening, and I will contribute what I can to help make it stop – mostly by using my privileged position, when I have the time and energy, to speak honestly about inequality and injustice in my area of study.

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