Posted on December 6, 2007
Plagiarism issue for journalism textbook?
According to a column by Guy Berger, a South African journalist and journalism educator, a Howard University journalism professor has complained that her writing has been published under another author’s name in a very well-regarded textbook.
Howard’s Anju Chaudhary, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, co-authored the Asia section of the third edition of the textbook Global Journalism, published by Allyn & Bacon — a company that produces many of the best-known textbooks in our field. In the fourth edition of the same textbook, according to Berger, two different authors were hired to write the Asia section — Jiafei Yin, of Central Michigan University, and Gregg Payne, of Chapman University. Apparently, no credit (or payment) was given to Chaudhary for the new edition (see the table of contents).
Berger (Rhodes University, Grahamstown) has taken some time to compare the two editions, and his findings will look familiar to just about every journalism educator who has ever compared a graduate student paper to the published sources that are cited in the paper: Paraphrasing without attribution.
Another issue arises if you examine Berger’s comparison: Even though 10 years separate the two editions of the book, some numbers in the Asia section have not changed at all. Is it likely that the literacy rate in India did not change by even 1 percentage point between 1995 and 2004? That exactly the same number of daily, weekly AND monthly newspapers were published in Bangladesh in 1995 and in 2004? According to Berger, the population of Bhutan is given as “less than 1 million” in both editions. The CIA World Factbook gives a 2007 population estimate for Bhutan of 2,327,849. Should we assume the population more than doubled between 2004 and 2007?
This question concerns more than copy-and-paste scholarship. It concerns more than turn-a-blind-eye editors, and more than budget-obsessed publishers who provide no fact-checking oversight at all for the textbooks they publish — and for which they charge such high prices. The very accuracy of the text appears to be at issue in this case.
I’m posting this to invite discussion.