So here I am in my lab tinkering with a piece of equipment and for the umpteenth time marveling at how could I cannibalize parts that I see this colleague of mine standing over me across the repair bay. "So you are the whistle-blower". he said
"Huh?!" I extemporated, droping my probe. "Come again...?" I said uncertainly.
"You know...The blog thing...I saw your name" he said. Gradually my auto-intellection circuits are clicking. "Do you mean the Professors Against Plagiarism?" Yep, there was a glint in his eyes.
"I can help you!" he offered. Apparently he knew of several skeleton in the closets. My suggestion was that the said skeletons are better off being there undisturbed. The Professors against plagiarism seem to have had an impact far in excess of what it founders originally had in mind. Some university professors who seem to feel being slighted often treat us as a sort of an academic SWAT team.
"Professor, do you have time?" Says another student. I glare, I hate being addressed by this title since I have not earned it yet but then even nowadays the technicians at tv repair shops call each other Mohandes and Doctor. "What can I do for you?" I ask trying to put the student at ease with a collegial smile. It really didn't came out quite as I intended. The student then bursts into tears claiming that her work has been swiped by some PhD students and offered at a conference. "when is the conference?" I ask uncomfortably. I always had problem dealing with emotional outburst. It later turns out that the conference had taken place last quarter, but it had been just lately that the proceedings had came off the press. Actually I have a student whose sole reason of existence seems to be having his work being plagiarized. It seems that there is an open season on some of the students. Apparently some see both the founding and supporting members of this blog as a sort of Solicitor/arbitrator.
It is 06:30 A.M. I just open the laboratory to check the equipments for the 8:00 class. I see a brown envelope on the center conference table. It is addressed to me. I open it, after a mere moment weighing it. There is an unsigned letter with copies of two annotated books. "These are the evidence. I seek none but Justice. You know what to do" the letter says cryptically. Apparently one book contains broad, unreferenced passages from the other work. I put the package in a file cabinet I had set aside for such things. It seems that I need to order a new one very soon. Perhaps the anonymous sender thought that we are a kind of Scholarly FBI or BPI (Bureau of Plagiat Investigation).
I believe that this weblog indeed had a great impact. For some of us more than most. However from all the encounters I had so far, it seems to me that most universities lack a detailed protocol for dealing with such issue. The Information Studies Lab at University of Tehran is one such organization trying to ascertain the possible patterns of such protocols. On good authority, I know that they have even sent students to Sharif University to see how do they deal with plagiarism. I find this amusing because I do not understand why Sharif seems to be seen as so controversial.
At any rate, I like to know whether we should actually work towards organizing a symposium dealing with the possible forms of the anti-plagiaristic protocols or even those dealing with the culprits. Who is willing to lend his purse?