Plagiarism plague

Below Heather is guest posting about her recent experience with what she feels is unjust plagiarism. She asked to use Worn Through to discuss this issue, and I said “sure” because I think it is important to address this type of behavior.

Furthermore, I too recently experienced plagiarism, on a much smaller scale than Heather, but it still burned. Prior to my return to school this past year I was the Director of an art gallery for one year. The gallery has an annual newsletter, for which I wrote a biographical essay describing my background, accomplishments, and commitment to arts and culture in the community. This newsletter is distributed to a few thousand people. This year I was able to see a copy, and upon reading the new Director’s biographical essay I was astonished to see she had my background (with subtle changes) and exactly the same verbiage about her commitment to the arts, the community etc. Exact same paragraphs which I spent a lot of time on phrasing my exact feelings.

So, plagiarism big and small is unethical, frustrating, and reflects horribly on the plagiarist (of course). Take a few to read Heather’s account which had a much larger audience than my newsletter issue.

FROM HEATHER: While doing some “freshening up” research recently, for a paper I published online on the Iconic nature of the shirtwaist dress “Icon: Tracing the path of the 1950s Shirtwaist Dress” in 2005, I was shocked and angered to discovered that my article had been substantially plagiarized by a reporter for the Financial Times of London.

Columnist and fashion editor, Vanessa Friedman, utilized and did not credit my work in her article “FT WEEKEND – STYLE: The working woman’s best friend” of April 22, 2006.

While I appreciate and was flattered that Ms Friedman found my research interesting and useful, it disheartened me that a journalist at such a high caliber publication as the Financial Times would plagiarize the work of an academic. Friedman’s article very clearly lifts quotes, points and arguments from my much longer article which explores the development of a shirtwaist as an icon – as far as I’ve been able to discern, the only research yet to do so.

Friedman’s article, while it did include additional quotes from contemporary designers that were not a part of my paper, does lift significantly from my work without recognition or consultation. (“recent films such as Pleasantville and Far From Heaven”; quoting the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in a 1916 pattern book in the collection of the Costume Institute at the MET in NYC; and covering key points highlighted in my paper including Dior, Donna Reed, idealized motherhood, and summarizing my descriptions of early shirtwaist designs).

Ms. Friedman has clearly passed this research off as her own work, and, I assume collected a paycheck for this piece. This is highly unethical and appalling behavior. I think I deserve an apology, a copy of a printed notice published in the paper (including a link to my original article), and for Friedman’s article to be removed from the website. Compare the two yourself and see if you don’t come to the same conclusion.”

Many thanks Monica, for sharing my story.

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1 Comment

  • Lauren November 17, 2007 01.18 pm

    Monica and Heather, keep us posted on both of your situations! Thank you for bringing both of them to light!


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