I hate to ask this, but apparently many are. Is Ann Voskamp a serial plagiarist?
World News Group’s Emily Belz writes, “The short answer is ‘No,’ but a couple of examples of minor plagiarism should give authors and publishers new determination to take great care in attributing stories and wordings to their creators.”
She notes that an anecdote in Voskamp’s The Broken Way reads almost exactly as it was written in social media by Cynthia Occelli, so all sides acknowledged the copying, but this passage did not throw a flag when run through the publishing industry’s plagiarism detector. That puts the responsibility for writing your own words back on the author.
Some Christian publishers are taking the expensive step of using plagiarism software during their editing process to guard against intentional and unintentional plagiarism, according to World Magazine. Emily Belz writes:
Most publishers think authorial self-preservation, strict contracts prohibiting plagiarism, and a good team of editors will result in a plagiarism-free book. But when plagiarism is unintentional—a missed citation or a miscopied note from a research assistant or just sloppiness—those checks can be insufficient.
I saw this kind of unintentional plagiarism or sloppiness while editing a set a workbooks a few years ago. Usually I was verifying a quotation to see if the attribution was correct, and some of them had incorrect or odd punctuation, so I tried to find an adequately sourced quotation in order to correct what my manuscript. A couple times I found the quotation and surrounded text were all quoted from another work and improperly attributed.
Professor Collin Garbarino gives World this explanation for this persistent problem. “We’ve got some pastors writing books on topics that they only superficially understand. If you haven’t mastered the subject matter, you’re going to have to rely on someone else for your ideas. If you’re under a deadline, you might cut corners.”
Here’s a lightly political topic on which I’d like your comments. William Bigelow accused President Obama of stealing his latest tagline, “We’re all in this together,” from Britain’s Labour Party leader. Read the short post and tell me if you think this should be consider plagiarism. The last example given, where Mr. Obama copies words from Deval Patrick, looks like plagiarism to me, but the tagline? I don’t know. This seems fair game to me, though it’s naturally opening yourself up for a shot like Bigelow’s post. I mean, if the new socialist president of France talks about wanting a country where “we’re all in this together,” I’d hope that connection would still harm any U.S. national politician, notwithstanding Dennis Kucinich.