TU Graz has recently published an update to its “rules of good scientific practise”. The German title of this document is “Richtlinie zur Sicherung guter wissenschaftlicher Praxis” (https://bigfiles.iaik.tugraz.at/get/325b819e8e51d9fc33f0a411ba507979).
Among these rules is also a call to all university teachers to adequately address the problem of scientific misconduct (“Problematik wissenschaftlichen Fehlverhaltens”) within their courses and also within any other mentoring of trainees. Responding to this request, I post the following comments.
A typical case of scientific misconduct is using someone else’s work without stating so. This we call “plagiarism”. In paragraph 6 of the “rules of good scientific practice” we can read the following definition:
“Ein Plagiat liegt jedenfalls dann vor, wenn Texte, Inhalte oder Ideen übernommen und als eigene ausgegeben werden. Dies umfasst insbesondere die Aneignung und Verwendung von Textpassagen, Gedanken, Hypothesen, Erkenntnissen oder Daten durch direkte, paraphrasierte oder übersetzte Übernahme ohne entsprechende Kenntlichmachung und Zitierung der Quelle und der Urheberin bzw. des Urhebers.”
Quite often, students get scared when it comes to “good practice”. After all, there are so many possibilities to fail in life.
My advice is to spend some effort on how to avoid plagiarism. Read, for instance, the text found on http://www.plagiarism.org/.
Start with “PLAGIARISM 101”. Click on “What is Plagiarism” and start reading carefully. You find strong words like “steal”, “theft”, “fraud”, or “lie” — certainly not something you want to be connected with.
If you read carefully, you find also text about using images, videos, or music in a work you have produced without receiving proper permission. Here, we enter the world of the “right to copy”, also known as “copyright”.
Let me use an example to clarify:
I refer to the original picture https://kcposch.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/img_9676.jpg?w=624
as found on https://kcposch.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/25-tips-for-all-newbies-at-tu-graz/.
A copy of this picture is used without permission, for instance, on http://donqubin.blogspot.co.at/. Here is a screenshot from this webpage from Nov 19th, 2014:
I would like to add that the author of the blog has mentioned the source of the text he refers to. Perfectly done with respect to citing a source. No plagiarism.
I would, however, remind that using other media like photos, films, music is even more critical when it comes to using these without permission. Read here, in case you are interested in detail: http://www.bloggingbasics101.com/2011/09/legally-use-company-logos-on-couponing-blog/.
Let me add one remark: “The Internet does not forget!” If you are dishonest within your scientific work today, someone can—and will—make you responsible for doing so at some point later in your life, when it really hurts. Then, you might be some country’s minister, for instance. Read details here: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/chronologie-die-plagiatsaffaere-von-annette-schavan-a-882397.html.
My advice: Learn to stay clean, and then stay clean.
So much for today, in serving my duty to adequately address the problem of scientific misconduct.