June 20, 2012

The ethics of recycling content: Jonah Lehrer accused of self-plagiarism - Op-ed: Is it OK to reuse old work? That's a loaded question with many variables. - ArsTechnica

Jonah Lehrer has long been one of the rising stars of the science writing world. I was a huge fan of his work when he wrote for Wired (a sister publication of Ars) and was happy when he recently left for the New Yorker full-time (again, another Conde Nast publication). That continued rise might be imperiled now, however, after the discovery of several instances of Lehrer re-using earlier work he did for a different publication.
Yesterday morning, Jim Romenesko, a well-known media watcher, noticed striking similarities between a piece by Lehrer published last week in the New Yorker, and one that Lehrer wrote for the Wall Street Journal last October. The blogosphere being what it is, it wasn't long before others were digging.  More than a handful of other instances of this happening were quickly uncovered—to the extent that this should be seen as carelessness rather than misfortune. Writers beware: in the age of crowdsourcing, this sort of investigation is child's play.
A day later, and the Twittersphere being what it is, there's been much discussion on the topic. Can you really plagiarize yourself? Is it plagiarism to get paid to give talks that rehash work you've written? Is it plagiarism to give the same talk to different audiences? >>>


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