Put an end to plagiarismA number of public officials, entertainers, star lecturers and other celebrity figures have recently garnered unfortunate attention for plagiarism. Actress Kim Hye-soo admitted to cutting and pasting other author’s works in her graduate school dissertation and offered to surrender her master’s degree. Comedian Kim Mi-hwa and bestselling author and motivational speaker Kim Mi-kyung quit their respective radio and TV programs due to similar charges. The chief pastor of SaRang Community Church and a board member of the Foundation for Broadcast Culture also lost their jobs because of plagiarism.
Yet Huh Tae-yeol, the president’s chief of staff, and Lee Sung-han, the National Police Agency commissioner nominee, both of whom have acknowledged that parts of their doctorate theses included unauthorized sections of other people’s works, have not taken responsibility. Seven of the legislators who were elected in elections in April last year were also charged with plagiarism, but they continue their jobs unaffected.
Plagiarism is considered a capital crime in academics. Using other people’s writing or research without their consent is theft of intellectual property. It’s a serious moral offense that requires strong sanctions, regardless of the person’s social status.
They say they didn’t write their theses for academic purposes or even claim that copying used to be common in the past. But the fact remains that they used others’ academic achievements in order to bolster their reputations and pursue their own ambitions. Others who laboured over their works, on the other hand, feel let down by the prominent figures who have chosen the easy way.
The recent chain of confessions should raise our awareness of the seriousness of plagiarism and the consequences of stealing other people’s work. In the United States and Germany, for example, anyone charged with plagiarism is expelled from whatever industry, academic field or public office they work for.University authorities need to be more vigilant and strict about plagiarism. They should teach students what it is and explain that it is a grave crime. Professors should actively guide their students through thesis research and writing.
Three professors usually review dissertations for master’s degrees; five check doctorates. If those people did their jobs properly, they could have prevented plagiarized works from being published. Worse, some local universities even sell degrees to raise money.
Education authorities must come up with a stern response to negligence at universities regarding plagiarism and other negative practices related to degrees.