Monday, October 18, 2004

"Jessica Pivik, please come to the Dean's office"

You know, I make fun of Jessica Pivik for lifting the "sources" for her pointless sex column from Google searches, but reading her column this morning, I was struck with a question:

Is Jessica guilty of academic misconduct because of her plagiarism?

The LSU Code of Conduct cites as a specific example of "Academic Misconduct":
Committing Plagiarism. "Plagiarism" is defined as the unacknowledged inclusion of someone else's words, structure, ideas, or data. When a student submits work as his/her own that includes the words, structure, ideas, or data of others, the source of this information must be acknowledged through complete, accurate, and specific references, and, if verbatim statements are included, through quotation marks as well. Failure to identify any source (including interviews, surveys, etc.), published in any medium (including on the internet) or unpublished, from which words, structure, ideas, or data have been taken, constitutes plagiarism

So if we look at Jessica's fascinating column on the female orgasm this week, we see a couple of questionable Google-fed citations.

The first is a quote from Dr. Jane Greer, who Jessica identifies as "a sex expert for Redbook magazine".
"Women who report having multiple orgasms also tend to have a high level of awareness about their bodies and what pleases them," says Dr. Jane Greer, a sex expert for Redbook magazine.

Googling that entire quote reveals that it was lifted from a Redbook column called "Jane Greer Let's Talk About Sex".

But Jessica doesn't cite the quote as "Jane Greer, a sex expert for Redbook magazine said in a recent column". Her reference implies that she interviewed Dr. Greer ("says" in journalism-talk means someone said this to you). I don't think that's a "complete, accurate and specific" citation of the source of this material.

Jessica also "quotes" Dr. Laura Berman, who is the director of a sex clinic in Chicago.
"What vibrators give women is a tool to take charge of their sexuality, either to improve what they have or get back what they lost." says Dr. Laura Berman, a sex therapist and director of Chicago's Berman Center.

Googling that quote shows that it comes from a Chicago Sun-Times column written by Dr. Bergman. Again, the context of "says Dr. Laura Berman" is much different than "wrote Dr. Laura Berman in a Chicago Sun-Times column".

But Jessica did get one attribution right. She cites a Masters & Johnson quote as coming from a book, which is the ethically-correct way to cite such second-hand material. Of course, Dr. Masters is dead, so it would be harder for Reveille readers to believe Jessica talked to him.

I don't know if Jessica is getting course credit for her Reveille work (if she is, she's clearly engaging in academic misconduct), but isn't it about time somebody at the Reveille call her on this plagairism? It reflects bad on those of us who graduated from the LSU Journalism program.

Gosh I hope I run into Jessica when I'm down in Baton Rouge this weekend.