When Tyndale House first responded to allegations of plagiarism in A Call to Resurgence by Mark Driscoll, the publisher claimed that Driscoll’s citation of Peter Jones was proper and conformed to “market standards.” Many people disagreed with Tyndale which has raised questions about what “market standards” should be.
I learned yesterday about one effort to address the question of standards. I spoke to Neil Holdway, treasurer of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) and an editor with the Chicago area Daily Herald. In April, 2013, ACES joined with nine other associations of journalists for the National Summit on Plagiarism and Fabrication which was a part of ACES annual conference. As a component of their efforts to raise awareness and suggest standards, the groups, along with 24 media and educational organizations, released an ebook about plagiarism titled Telling the Truth and Nothing But (download here).
I spoke with Neil about the Driscoll controversy, but in this post, I just want to raise awareness of the association’s efforts to address plagiarism in media. In the ebook, plagiarism is defined as
The report also deals with recycling material.
…presenting someone else’s language or work as your own. Whether it is deliberate or the result of carelessness, such appropriation should be considered unacceptable because it hides the sources of information from the audience. (p. 5)
The practice of reusing previously published material raises an intriguing question: Can one self-plagiarize? Perhaps a better way to frame the discussion is to consider the term “recycling material without disclosure,” as discussed in a Poynter Institute post about Jonah Lehrer’s serial reuse in The New Yorker and Wired of material he had previously written for other publications. By any name, what Lehrer did was wrong: In no case should journalists copy material they have written for previous employers. (p. 13)
Although the exact situation of recycling in material from book to book is not addressed by the ebook, Holdway told me that the principles about recycling which are outlined in the book could be applied to the case of Driscoll’s use of material from past books in newer ones. Perhaps with the efforts of ACES and like-minded groups, a consensus will develop relating to market standards on recycling.
Among many other questions, I asked Neil what his thoughts were about the allegations of plagiarism directed at Mark Driscoll. I will have his response on that subject in at least two future posts. For now, I hope you will check out the ebook and related resources from ACES.