[Taxacom] Dealing with the morally reprehensible act of plagiarisation

David Campbell pleuronaia at gmail.com
Tue May 28 16:53:09 CDT 2013

In taxonomic work, often extensive quotation or close paraphrasing from
previous work is necessary-there are only so many reasonable ways to
describe the same organism.  However, the original source obviously
deserves to be appropriately credited.
Re-use of previous material can cause other problems as well.  I ran across
a specific case where one well-known worker published a popular account of
fossils from a particular, relatively poorly studied area.  It included
apparently unacknowledged pictures duplicating figures published elsewhere
by another worker.  In addition to the ethical question (which conceivably
was due to the publisher), this meant that I could not trust the figures to
actually represent specimens from the region in question and thus could not
verify the records.  Authentic material would likely have been rather
uglier, though, and thus it raises the question of purpose-in the face of
limits to the number of illustrations, is is better to have a good figure
of a non-local specimen, to better help people to identify their finds, or
to figure a poorly preserved or otherwise less distinctive specimen to
better document what was actually found?

Dr. David Campbell
Assistant Professor, Geology
Department of Natural Sciences
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017

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