Ideoplagiarism and policymaking

대한민국 교육부장관 박순애 관한 표절논란 기사가 많이 떴는데 여기서 가장 중요한 포인트는 셀프 표절이다 (self-plagiarism). The fancy word for this is “ideoplagiarism.” Now, plagiarism per se is an indefensible act in academia – where people peddle in the currency of ideas, it is nothing less than thievery. However, self-plagiarism – I would argue – is a different kettle of fish.

One of the things that got 박순애 in trouble is that she took a paper that she published, I believe, as a doctoral student at the University of Michigan and translated it into Korean and republished in 한국정치학회보, and this is seen as ethically suspect (CV-padding). Everyone is now so inured to publications as academic signifiers that we forget that they exist to DISSEMINATE IDEAS. So how is re-publishing papers – especially papers on policy – for a non-anglophone readership an issue ethically (as long as the author states clearly that this is what she/he is doing)? If she wishes to cast a wide net and influence policy, re-publishing in another language is not only ethically acceptable but is an obligation of the author.

Mark Israel has a nice piece on the issues of ideoplagiarism.

In biology, ideoplagiarism is embedded in the culture of publication. You can argue that review papers are a form of ideoplagiarism – but that they serve a useful function (agglomeration of disparate ideas). There is also the practice of distributing data over multiple papers – which can affect how you plan experiments and frame your theoretical constructs in the first place.

In Korean society, where there is a free flow of academics into and out of government, and academic expertise is generally held in high regard, the stakes are even higher and the media get involved in its usual hamfisted way and you end up with distorting effects.