Andrew Galloway has been a member of Cornell University’s English Department since receiving his PhD from U. C. Berkeley in 1991. He has written numerous essays on medieval English, Latin, and French literature and culture from the tenth to the fifteenth century, especially Piers Plowman, Chaucer’s poetry, Gower’s poetry, and their fifteenth-century followers, as well as essays on medieval historical writing such as a chapter in the Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature (2002) and, recently, entries for the Brill Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle.
For seven years he edited the annual volumes of The Yearbook of Langland Studies, and he provided the translations of the Latin verses and glosses for the new 3-volume edition of Gower’s Confessio Amantis by Russell Peck (2000-2005). His monographs include The Penn Commentary on Piers Plowman: Volume 1 (2006), and the short introductory monograph Medieval Literature and Culture (2006); later this year will appear under his editorship The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Culture.
He is currently working on other edited volumes plus studies on medieval ideas of need, medieval dream visions, London literature, Gower’s uses of classical literature, and a history of Middle English literature.
Andrew Galloway has been a member of Cornell University’s English Department since receiving his PhD from U. C. Berkeley in 1991. He has written num . . .
As putting this question into an historical and cultural frame like that suggests, such standards are neither eternal nor transcultural. Context matters for definition, and for judgment. As a scholar of western medieval literature and culture, I am very conscious of many aspects of this issue; the world I study involves a lot of recycling of materials, and not at all necessarily for lazy or naive or self-serving reasons. In early medieval culture, for instance, when a monastic artist illustrates a sacred book, it can be a mark of humility to copy a picture from another book as exactly as possible. The problem then is that some artists were better than their models, and perhaps less inclined to be entirely submissive to their perhaps less cultivated abbots. (For the curious, I take this example from Jonathan J. G. Alexander, Medieval Illuminators and their Methods of Work, [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992], pp. 90-92.) In that context, the most interesting and talented originality often appears in very fine details rather than broad conceptions; such originality is actually not what the artist is supposed to be doing, and the pressure to stifle such pride is strong. Even forgeries of writs in medieval culture are not necessarily outright theft or misrepresentation, although they can be that as well.
Our modern culture has, at least officially, a different ethical imperative than such cloaking of oneself in the mantel of others’ ideas. Thus when I confront modern cases of plagiarism about medieval literature and culture, a completely different set up assumptions apply than in the culture itself—and rightly so. Modern plagiarism in the humanities is no better than a counterfeited coin or a stolen patent—or a plagiarized piece of scientific research. At the same time, humanists might be forgiven for wondering about the context in which such modern plagiarized work appears (including the crafting of critical writing as well as the research behind it). Humanists are trained to think about the social context and institutional settings for the development and circulation of ideas and writing. Can we, then, offer something to the broader questions about plagiarism in all intellectual fields?
For instance? I unfortunately know many, thanks to my role for some years as chair of the Academic Integrity Hearing Board of the Arts and Sciences College of Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, where I was charged with presiding over the “hard” cases of undergraduate plagiarism that reached that Board. That work led me to reflect on the structures and pressures that can lead to undergraduate plagiarism, or help fend it off.
I’d like to think I have made some changes. One of the results of this experience in my own teaching was (to put it generally) my redoubling of efforts to be attentively involved in the development, the process, of students’ work, rather than simply accepting finished products. Another was to allow and foster experimentation, and even failure, at least at a first try, rather than insisting on polished perfection. Those two principles (and I much prefer them to the routine use of plagiarism-checking databases, although those have their uses) are in general much more easily brought to bear on doctoral work, where slow development and trial and error is much more frequent and routine than is usually possible in undergraduate work. Possibly for that reason, I am quite sure that I have never seen plagiarism in doctoral work I have supervised, as opposed to the numbers of times I have seen it in undergraduate work. Partly, of course, the latter numbers are simply because of my role in holding hearings for an entire College. I would expect, however, that this ratio is fairly common.
Recently, however, I was presented by Integru of a case of a dissertation in my area of the humanities from a university in Romania, which has spurred these reflections. For this case, I confess, stumped me. Not because I am not qualified. In fact, I am not only quite familiar with the particular field, I even know the work of the particular scholar whose dissertation (from over four decades ago!) was the source recycled by the Romanian doctoral student in question [ed. the person is now a lecturer]. Moreover, I have the qualifications of the experience mentioned, where as a chair of the Board I had to help assess often quite tricky cases and appeals concerning academic integrity. But this case stumped me precisely because—like some of the other publicized dissertations from higher profile cases—it was so blatant. It pointed to the need, or, at any rate, my need, for better understanding of just how such a case could have occurred. Surely it did not appear in a vacuum. Or perhaps it occurred because there was too much of a vacuum of some crucial kind, an absence of checking and critiquing of the kind that every intellectual field must have to survive.
Asked about what “outcome” I could imagine for this case, therefore, I could only reply that the most productive outcome I could think of would be a searching investigation of the structure of advising, funding, mentoring, assessing, critiquing, and defending doctoral or any academic work at the institution in question. Only then might I propose any structural changes. One simple step, however, might be adding the requirement of international external examiners of all humanities doctoral theses, as is common enough. A more labor-intensive step would be requiring regular consultations between students and their faculty chairs and committee members.
Modern work in the humanities in general deserves the same kind of rigorous scrutiny and thus praise or blame as any other field. We humanists need to study our own contexts of knowledge production at all levels, and to compare research institutions transnationally as well as nationally. If the evidence suggests a systemic problem, the topic is ripe for a more searching understanding of structures of support and critique—of the kind of systemic cultural inquiry that humanists are, in their own research at least, often trained to undertake.
But these matters are, of course, not just for humanists. Scientists, economists, political scientists, and many others are often equally trained to ponder and criticize the wider structures and contexts for supporting and critiquing ideas—indeed, sometimes better trained or more accustomed to doing this than humanists.
As I hope is obvious, I offer such views not as an opinion or guidance based on any real knowledge of the circumstances of what I encountered, but quite the opposite: as an invitation for further investigation and clarification by others. I’m convinced that academics in all disciplines as well as the knowledgeable general public would have much to offer in reply, just as I’m sure that the discussion will help my own understanding of what fosters a “culture” of intellectual integrity—or its opposite—in any time or place.
Prof Andrew Galloway
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This contribution makes two critical points. Firstly, that high ethical standards are essential in all areas of intellectual endeavour, not just in the hard sciences. And secondly, that preventing poor academic practices like plagiarism through careful teaching is better than identification after the event.
A general culture of academic integrity has yet to take root in today’s Romania. Identifying and exposing cases involving those who teach the next generation is an essential part of pushing for improvement – which is why the Integru site is so very important.
Distinguished journalist, Ms Alison Abbott, is right that the preventing poor academic practices like plagiarism through careful teaching is better than identification after the event.
Meanwhile in Romania the solving of present misconduct cases is expected by all honest academics as a way of preparing a better future. For this there is Integru.org.
Dear Dr Alison Abbott,
I would like to see that Nature, in its scientific impartiality, would be interested to publish about using a fake doctor title by Norica Carmen Godja, a manager of scientific area from an Austrian company, even is a Romanian with the Austrian citizenship, in order to get funded by EU programs-Clean Sky.
Her fake doctor title was changed by EU Commission in Mrs after I wrote more times, but not this is a problem. The problem is maybe more grave than that in which someone wrote the references at the end of dissertation. Using a fake doctor title is named imposture and it is punished by law. Why nobody noticed this?
I am just a computer scientist, I have nothing to do with the current universities here in Romania (besides the fact that I graduated CS at the Institute Politehnica of Bucharest).
I’m writing you this comment because I believe it is worth investigating this.
The culture of plagiarizing comes frm the communism era. You need to realize that:
1. The intellectual elite was replaced brutally by the communist regime with individuals who had other ‘virtues’: the ability to bend before the Party, the ability to lie and denaturate the truth.
2. At those time, Ro was an enclave. Very few people had full access to foreign books; it was those people above that were placed in positions from where they could have access to the information published ‘outside’, in the western world. This is especially true in sciences.
Reproducing the work from ‘outside’, those individuals gained more power and more privileges. Of course, since they believed at that time nobody will check, they just did copy-paste. Hooray. Those individuals soon started to form aurae, aquiring entire circles of disciples, all based on the theft above. They were promoted even more.
This status perpetuated until after the Romanian Revolution of 89; they were still not able to understand that the world has changed around them. They still believed we are isolated, on our own island, therefore they continued to act as before.
These people never promoted real intellectuals of scientists. Or even if a guy showed signs of promise, he was forced first to put some dirt on him (plagiarizing was an accepted practice), so that the ‘field master’ could blackmail him in the case he needed to (don’t you love the communist system ?). So, one hand washes the other, and everything was fine …
Until mr. Ponta’s case, there was no real punishment for those here caught in wrongdoing. We have members in our Academy who plagiarized – we read it in newspapers, the subjects are still members! (e.g. Constantin Popa, copied entire chapters from Harrison – “Principles of Internal Medicine”, he destroyed the Neurology in Romania, AFAIK; another case is mr Ionel Sinescu, still MD, still a member of our Academy, and so on). In fact, you will see that there is still no punisment on the local level for those exposed in this site – anyway, I find it very hard to believe that this will change soon …
Lack of punishment, lack of power of people exposing plagiarism, the relative omnipotence of such ‘field masters’ plus all the above requires a real investigation (and -why not – may be a subject of some sociology phd thesis).
Ok, sorry for this long message, I just hope I gave you some starting points for a nice research. Interdum stultus bene loquitur
This very insightful contribution of Prof Andrew Galloway made me think of one piece of evolution I noticed about my teachers back in the 90s, when I studied philosophy at the same “Al.I. Cuza” university in Iasi (my second degree was in psychology in Göttingen, Germany, so I have had a pretty good opportunity to compare different approaches in the academic field.)
We all know how poor and shrunk were the humanities in the Romanian universities before 1989. Their expansion after that moment was remarkable but decorated with some peculiarities. My teachers wanted very much to specialize in some field or another. It was so much to recover. So, many of them thought seriously of finding a field, as narrow as possible, and became a professional in that field. Each shall approach some of the big unexplored sea of the humanities and secure their position as specialists and chair holders. So far, so good. Now think of a large sea with many, many small boats. For me, nothing yields more uncertainty than this image. Only poor communication is possible. Little collaborative effort can emerge in front of a storm. No critical support. It was like that in the humanities (it still is, I would say). No wonder that some find themselves tempted to pick someone’s very specialized and quasi unknown (at least in the local geography) contribution, say a PhD thesis from the 80s, and to show it as their novel contribution to the field, their accreditation as specialist. The supervisor is in another boat, not so far from her pupil, but far enough and he can barely distinguish what is original in that contribution and what is not. This magical concept, i.e. inter-subjective validation of one’s scientific activity, requires at least two people engaged in collaborative research (or, to maintain the analogy, at least two people in the same boat). More than two is better. A whole globalized community watching on my little boat is the best I can wish for my peers.
Andrew, thank you for the interesting approach of the subject. It is a good “food for thoughts” and I hope for the right people who should understand that a scientific title have nothing in common with their personal ambitions (either political or in the university), but with their capability to express new ideas and made known their real contribution to a certain field. However, I have to admit, I feel rather uncomfortable seeing the name of my country, Romania, beside the word “plagiarism” in the title. As a tribute for the many Romanian scientists who worked and are working honestly for the good of all of us and for the Romanians with important contributions in all the scientific areas, fields and domains yesterday, today and tomorrow I feel that is not correct to point a finger on this country as a whole (as in the title), for the shame that should be on some people representing, in my opinion, in the best case, themselves and not the country. It is well known that the plagiarism is a present virtually in all the countries, and pointing a finger on a particular one (in this case Romania) I believe is not fair. Thank you again for the interesting lecture, opening the dialog for matters sometime considered as “tabu”.
@Adrian: Your comment baffles me.
First, Prof Galloway’s article and title simply narrow the scope to that of the plagiarism in Romania, and is actually written from quite a fair perspective. The title to me looks pretty much perfect. There is no finger pointed at the country as a whole, but at a phenomena that exists in Romania, regardless of how thick or thin it is in comparison with other countries.
But you do raise an important point, and I again disagree with your opinion on it:
Those authors DO represent the country too, and not only themselves.
I don’t think it’s necessary to remind of the almost endless stream of Romanian research ministers (!!!), prime minister, rectors, deans, “researchers” etc., but just in case, remember Ioan Mang, Corina Dumitrescu, Ecaterina Andronescu, Victor Ponta, Leonard Azamfirei, Constantin Copotoiu, Klara Branzaniuc, Aurel Ardelean etc etc etc? … who still refute any plagiarism or misconduct despite blatantly clear evidence!
All of them very much also represent the country Romania. It is them and their actions that make you (and all of us) feel some shame when seeing “Romania” next to “plagiarism” in the same sentence, and it is THEM, THEIR INSTITUTIONS and STATE INSTITUTIONS who you should target your anger/disappointment/shame to and do something about it.
I for one feel ashamed that such international personalities like Professor Galloway are taking precious time out of their schedule to go beyond the line of duty and try to clean the mess which happens to be in our back yard. As I see it, they’re not doing it for Romania, nor for the worthy academics there, but out of a sense of respect and duty for the academic profession and title.
Quite frankly, we should be thankful to them for stating facts and doing things that we didn’t or still don’t have the courage to face and do … for that, shame on us!
Integru.org is doing a fantastic job by exposing thieves like the ones above, while experts like Professor Galloway are providing the immensely needed authority. The fact that “Romania” and “plagiarism” are in the same sentence should not make us resentful, but instead should make us contribute to fixing the actual problem.
I think it’s time we all did. Integru.org and its experts are doing a fantastic job!
p.s. I will support the Integru.org portal by recommending and inviting experts I know. I don’t yet feel enough of an expert in my field to answer review questions.
Thank you for your comment Dorin. So you accept that in this country the “plagiarism” (meaning to steal) is a “culture”?. Are you sure we understand in the same way such a broad word like “culture”? Usually a culture is something specific to a population. So the plagiarism is specific to the Romanians? I don’t want to enter into a polemic but I strongly disagree that the plagiarism is in the “culture” of the Romanians. And about how representatives are the peoples referred by the article, to be honest, is the first time I heard their names. So, how representatives are those “teachers” for Romania in comparison with well known Romanians like Mircea Eliade (who accordingly to this paper is part of a “culture” of plagiarists)? Are the politicians fighting in the name of Romania or for themselves when they are trying to accumulate votes using those incorrect means (like counterfeit dissertations) and a lot others by the way? Of course I feel in the best case pity for the peoples using plagiarism, showing just their personal ambitions (to put titles on their names) and not their knowledge, But I am not ashamed of being Romanian, and by no means I consider “plagiarism” part of my “culture” as a Romanian with all due respect for prof. Galloway. In fact I proudly represented Romania in my activity (as a lot of other Romanians) and my personal feeling is that the real Romanian culture is appreciated. On the other side I admit that the plagiarism is a real danger for ALL the cultures nowadays where the access to the information is so easy and there are enough lazy students, lazy candidates for titles and lazy teachers who are not carefully reading the candidates thesis. And Romania should be, beside other countries affected by this (Germany-high rank politicians, Hungary-high rank politicians, and so on) a part of the solution and not part of the problem. So what follows?” The Culture of Plagiarized Dissertations in Germay: A Call for Inquiry in the Humanities—and Beyond?” and “The Culture of Plagiarized Dissertations in Hungary: A Call for Inquiry in the Humanities—and Beyond?”. Maybe the correct title should be “The Culture of Plagiarized Dissertations in the World: A Call for Inquiry in the Humanities—and Beyond?”. And yes, Romania is part of the World. Motto: “Tara este poporul, nu tagma jefuitorilor”-Tudor Vladimirescu (“The country is the peoples and not the group of the robbers”-Tudor Vladimirescu, Romanian revolutionist)
@Adrian Petrica: Since you asked for my opinion, then yes, of course I fully accept that there is a culture of plagiarism in Romania. The sooner all of us accept that, the better. Prof Galloway may defend his point if he wishes.
You seem to appreciate those who are honest, which is completely skewed. In a normal environment, that’s not something to be appreciated. That’s something to be expected. The fact that in Romania it became something to be appreciated shows that the opposite entity, i.e. the dishonesty, is wide-spread …
The argument you portray continues to baffle me, as I see it skewed and dangerous (if not even harmful). In short, it sounds like “the country is not 100% rotten, so let’s not say that if there are exceptions, and leave the matter alone” … and it is precisely what has been happening in Romania for more than half a century: nothing has been done about it. It continued to flourish and now we have a prime minister with a plagiarized PhD and a whole stream of high, medium and low profile cases like him in pretty much all universities across the country!
Ethics wise, the academic environment in Romania is awfully rotten, and I will not have a debate about exceptions. The first step in fixing any problem is pointing out and admitting that there is one. This step is most efficient if the ones who do the pointing out that there is a problem are authoritative voices. That’s why Prof Galloway’s contribution (both in Review 10 and also in this article) and of all the other international experts on Integru.org is so crucially important.
Remember, we are responsible for this dreadful state too. Let’s wake up, and then do something about it.
p.s. And please let’s not compare Romania with Germany in this regard, neither regarding the plagiarism culture (i.e. scale), nor regarding doing something about it. We all know what happens in Germany once such cases are being exposed.
Dorin S, I was just about to post the same ideas, but you outlined them better than I could have. I completely agree with you, with the fact that ethics wise Romania is in a dreadful state, that the misconduct scale should make us shiver with shame – being widely spread both vertically and horizontally – and that we need to wake up and do something about all of it.
I’d like to comment on Professor Galloway’s point, which basically says that prevention is better than reaction.
While principially that’s very true, I think that concentrating most or all of the efforts in prevention wouldn’t quite work right now in Romania due to the already wide spread phenomena and the lack of sanctions, but most importantly, the lack of authority. Currently in Romania, sanctions would have to first start being applied in order to discourage others. Then you can build a prevention system on top of that. The problem is that there is no actual authority to implement sanctions: the head of the government has shamelessly copy/pasted his PhD thesis, has been exposed, reviewed by international experts in his field, and still refutes all accusations, and has been supported by the minister of research and education, most heads of institutions, etc ever since they (effectively) overthrew the former government last year (*) and then were voted by the people with an overwhelming majority …
Such a climate makes one wonder “what can really be done to stop this?” And let’s not forget, stopping it woulnd’t be enough, we need to improve it after that. Sure, prevention is better than reaction, but we’re facing a really deep and wide problem which requires actual measures.
In my opinion, these crooks exist because the people allow them to … the people voted for Victor Ponta (plagiarist, then prime minister, still prime minister) and for Ecaterina Andronescu (plagiarist, then minister of research, now puppeteer)! So as Dorin correctly said, the people too are responsible for the current state. In my opinion, the public perception has to change before we can hope for any actual change. How do we do that?
Well, dear Professor Galloway, to me it seems like the hope is coming from you and authoritative voices like you. I’m not saying it’s the only way (although frankly, I can’t quite pinpoint another) but this could really work. Like Dorin, I also hope that more of us realize the importance of this and start contributing.
I too appreciate this platform, Integru.org, and I too appreciate you and the heavy-weights like you for having taken the time to offer reviews on Integru.org.
(*) I should point out that the previous minister of research, Dr Daniel Funeriu, this time a respectable academic internationally (unlike the atrocious and plagiarist Ecaterina Andronescu), made some very impressive steps towards cleaning and improving the romanian academic system, including prevention e.g. by requiring external international reviewers for research grants. It was going in the right direction. Andronescu reversed most of his measures after Ponta and his crooked gang came to power last year, by issuing ministerial orders. For example, following Integru.org’s Review 5 of the plagiariazed research grant asking for 600,000 USD of public funds, Ecaterina Andronescu eliminated the foreign reviewers saying they are too expensive. The funny thing is that all reviewers have been paid the same sum, regardless of geographical location or nationality.
I agree with most of Dorin and Tudor’s comments, but I would be hesitant to use the term “culture of plagiarism” because it might suggest that plagiarism might be programmed into Romanians’ DNA. I know that it was not what Prof. Galloway was conveying in his articled but it might be misconstrued.
I also disagree with Dorin assessment that plagiarism at this scale has been the norme in Romania for the past century. Plagiarism did exist before 1989, but it has grown at an explosive rate only after the political changes.
With this caveat in place, I do agree that plagiarism has reached epidemic proportions in Romanian academia, and there is a real danger that the culture at large may become imune to the stigma attached to this phenomenon.
There is resistance to this phenomenon from within the academia, mostly (but not only) from pre-1989 trained individuals. However, the immense political pressures render these efforts impotent. For example, the University of Bucharest took up the case of Mr. Ponta and concluded it was plagiarism but the powers that be thought otherwise. This to me shows that the academic autonomy of Romanian university is de-facto non existent.
What can be done?
I think that Integru.org is a first important step for two reasons. It brings back in the spotlight the the stigma and immorality of plagiarism. More and more newspapers are quoting Integru findings. The recent resignation in Iasi shows that the public opprobrium can have an effect.
As importantly, Integru is at this moment the only place where intellectuals from inside Romania and beyond its borders can approach and hope that suspicions of plagiarism will be given the attention they deserve, without the fear of political intimidation I sensed in some of my friends bravely on the academic barricades in Romania. Integru makes it easier for the Romanian diaspora to help their colleagues back in Romania who still care about this issue.
Integru alone cannot dramatically change things. Some structural changes are badly needed. Real academic autonomy springs to mind. Rigorously enforced academic honor codes of the type used in many US universities can also help. This is a bit tricky because enforcing ethical standards requires individuals whose reputation is beyond suspicion.
Next, we need to have some concrete data to better gauge the right prescription.
While many of us believe that plagiarism is widespread, none of us have a real idea what widespread means. Take for example the doctoral dissertations in the last 20 years: how many of them are plagiarized, 1%, 10%, 20%? I have to admit that I do not know what organization in Romania can carry such an investigation.
Are the very bureaucratic promotion criteria and the dismal lack of resources aggravating the plagiarism phenomenon? If say a chemist or a biologist is to publish in a high impact journal, yet she has no appropriate resources to conduct research, how can that person make genuine and honest progress?
Im my view there is no immediate solution to this problem, and at some point politicians need to get involved. There has to be a critical mass in the Parliament that thinks that this course leads to the destruction of Romanian education, culture and reputation. How big are the odds of this happening? In my estimation they are discouragingly low. On the other hand I am sure of one thing: if everyone is quiet about this, nothing will change. That is why I am a bit more optimistic since Integru appeared on the scene.
It s interesting to see that the same authors from CEST-Wiener Neustadt did not publish the periodic and final reports and publications on CORDIS webpages. It seems for them the rules are not really rules.
The authors are: Dr Erich Kny, Mrs (ex-Dr) Norica Godja.
I can not beleive that it is possible to get funded for a research project and give back 0 results.
I wonder what an effect has Integru.org on these ones: http://bit.ly/1ndYtAS
Finally, after one year, the periodic and final report for one of projects were added. Waiting for the other reports and publications.
It’s clear that the rules are not the same for all. some of scientists or non-scientists, but self-titled as a “doctor”, are supported in EU research, get funded, publish or not the reports, articles, conferences, etc. Nothing touches them, They are over law. Keep the eyes on them!
As I have read the many very interesting and insightful comments, I have gained a yet deeper respect for the courageous and thoughtful editors reading and organizing Integru, and for those many Romanian academics and intellectuals who are intent on pondering structural changes in the circumstances that promote intellectual integrity. My deepest misgiving is that my term “culture” in the title might seem to imply something unchangeable. “Culture” is a slippery and easily distorted term, though still I believe a useful one in some discussions. As I meant to show in the column itself, my intention was simply to think in terms of systems and quite changeable structures and assumptions, in the humanities in particular but other fields too (as many of the comments indicated), rather than exclusively focusing on individual cases. I have wanted more than once to jump in and say how much I love Mircea Eliade (responsible for the first “opening” of my mind as a youth), and many another Romanian genius and artist. Integru has displayed for me some of the intellectual courage and acuity that constitutes the true Romanian cultural tradition, which I have been grateful for the opportunity to encounter anew.