jump to navigation

Copy and Patse …. October 6, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

Earlier this year UK Independent Journalist Johann Hari was exposed for plagiarism. Now it appears that such practices have reached our shores.

Former UUP man Steven King writes a column for the Examiner and appears to be writing an awful lot that is very similar in content to Spiked Onlines Brendan O’Neills musings.

More on it here at BrianWhelan.net

You’d wonder how prevalent the practice is?

On a slightly related note, my wife is a secondary teacher. Regularly as corrections are being done in the evening, I’d be dispatched to the computer with a students essay  to find if it was their own work or not. More often than not its copied straight from cyberspace with no effort even put to using a Thesaurus to change a word here or there. There is of course a certain satisfaction in playing essay detective and solving the crime of plagiarism by a student, a ‘gothcha!’ moment.

King though is far from a secondary school student …..


1. Chet Carter - October 6, 2011

So the Irish Examiner is now following the Revolutionary Communist Party line? Shocked and stunned.


EWI - October 6, 2011

What exactly is the Spiked line on De Nort? I’m wondering whether the connection here is the general reactionary-rightwing tone or something deeper.


Monty Mole - October 6, 2011

Republican. Critical of SF but not supporting dissidents.


WorldbyStorm - October 6, 2011

Yeah, it’s a real old oddity of Spiked/RCP… a remarkable identification with PIRA that survived other shifts of theirs


2. LeftAtTheCross - October 6, 2011

In fairness I will admit to cogging the odd section from an encyclopedia myself for the occasional leaving cert’ history essay, or at least leaning heavily upon it. It wasn’t so easy to check for plagarism back in the day before the internet.

TBH, I know this has come up before, but the very possibility of a simple cut & paste in the educational context does raise the question of relevance to the material being taught and the method by which it is taught and learned, or at least its relevance to the bulk of students who will not go on in later life to use the critical and literary skills that are associated with reviewing / analysing say a piece of prose or an essay on some historical event or process.

Nothing to do with what you’re getting at in your piece of course…


3. D_D - October 6, 2011

Brian Trench has written on plagiarism:

Trench Warfare: Crackdown on Plagiarism, (editor), Harper, 2002.


4. Crocodile - October 6, 2011

A friend who teaches in America tells me that fighting plagiarism takes up a serious amount of her time: some colleges there have full-time anti-plagiarism staff. At the high school where my friend teaches, the only offence incurring automatic expulsion – apart from drug dealing – is a second offence of plagiarism. The father of a girl whose ‘work’ was 99% identical to her ‘source’ still took the school to court, claiming coincidence. Brass necks are not indigenous to this country.
And, of course, we’re proposing turning a large share of our second-level assessment into ‘course work’ and ‘portfolios’ aka ‘downloading’. Expect a bit of grade inflation then.


5. Ramzi Nohra - October 6, 2011

I dont think I’ve ever seen Brendan O’neill and Steven King in the same room at the same time..


6. Feadog - October 6, 2011

My wife is a Primary teacher and often despatches me to the computer with student essays. More often than not they are copied straight from the internet. There is a satisfaction in playing essay detective and solving the crime of plagiarism by a student. Disgraceful.


7. Mark P - October 6, 2011

It will be interesting to see the fallout from this. Harry Browne has been doing some more googling of King’s columns and posting about it on twitter. The Examiner have announced that they are taking the issue very seriously, are awaiting a response from King and will take a swift decision.

King, of course, isn’t just an opinion columnist, but someone with a pretty substantial record and involvement in unionist politics.


8. Pidge - October 6, 2011

Comment Removed as requested (IEL)


Mark P - October 6, 2011

In all fairness, I don’t think it’s a great idea to throw that sort of allegation around about named individuals unless you can and do document it.


Pidge - October 7, 2011

Fair point. If a mod could delete the comment, I’d appreciate it. I had an ancient blog post about it a while ago, on a now-deleted blog. I’ll have a look around for one now.


smiffy - October 6, 2011

Interesting (although mark p makes a fair point). A key difference, though, is that King is a relatively serious guy, whereas the other fella …


9. Chet Carter - October 6, 2011

… and to be fair it often seems that many of the Sindo journalists are just recycling articles from Melanie Philips and Richard Littlejohn that they read in the Mail the previous week.


crocodile - October 6, 2011

At the Sindo they recycle the handout they are given at the editorial conference.


10. FergusD - October 6, 2011

Don’t most journos recycle the same old shite they heard somewhere? Get it from blogs and wikipedia mostly.

It is true some students do this too, in the UK we use Turnitin to find it. A minority do it, but I suppose the temptation can be great as it is so easy.


11. Jim Monaghan - October 6, 2011

I was asked to sit the College of Surgeons entry exam many moons ago. I refused.
It is a huge problem. That is why I am for exams. It is a quality controll test that it was you that did the work.I am, also, wary of continous assessment. “Was it you, or your nice parents.”


Chet Carter - October 6, 2011

Careful Jim, you’ll be calling for academic selection and the return of Grammar schools next.


12. WorldbyStorm - October 6, 2011

I’ve got to be honest. I found the last four years I was worn down by the amount of copy and paste in third level in essays that I read. And it was completely unartfully done – no effort to disguise it. It got to the point where I could tell you immediately if something in an essay was lifted from a wiki page about individual x or topic y.

And where it wasn’t lifted from wiki it was easy by googling to hunt down the source. What amused me, sort of, was the idea that I was such a chump that I couldn’t suss the change in language between their own work and that lifted from elsewhere.

To me the problem is two fold, a complete disinterest in seeking out anyhthing but the most obvious sources and secondly an unwillingness to engage with the subject at hand. So the learning aspect becomes minimal. And although rephrasing factual information in ones own words sounds, and often is, tedious, it is a key way of getting to grips with a topic so that it can then be analysed further.


Feadog - October 6, 2011

My teenage daughter was a little creative in her school essay and was told to stick to the prepared essays which are being learned by heart for the exams.


WorldbyStorm - October 6, 2011

well that’s the flip side of it, so perhaps there’s a sense of ‘prepared texts’ that permeates some students approaches.


sonofstan - October 6, 2011


What gets me is when they C&P and don’t even bother to change the font. That’s just disrespecting me……


WorldbyStorm - October 7, 2011

Been that soldier…


Starkadder - October 7, 2011

In 2005 I wrote a history essay on the Weimar Republic which
used several books and journal articles on the subject-as well
as the then-current Wikipedia entry on the WR.
I didn’t get any complaints from my tutor for using Wikipedia
as a source, though I suspect that has completely changed nowadays.


13. Tomboktu - October 6, 2011

When I started a taught masters a few years ago, I was puzzled when told that the exams would be take-home papers, to be done in three days. And then I looked at the past papers. There is an art in crafting a question where it is not enough to simply cut-and-paste material.


14. Stephen King. Ireland’s Very Own “Harigate” Scandal? « An Sionnach Fionn - October 6, 2011

[…] Ah, the Irish media establishment. Newspapers, radio, television. The ladies and gentlemen of Irish journalism. What can one say? Does anything about them surprise us any more? […]


15. ejh - October 6, 2011

I wouldn’t advise copying the post title.


irishelectionliterature - October 6, 2011

🙂 There’s no Spell checker for post titles 😦


WorldbyStorm - October 7, 2011

It’s not an intentional joke? It works great as one…


irishelectionliterature - October 7, 2011

I was going to pretend it was, but honesty got the better of me 🙂


16. tomasoflatharta - October 6, 2011
17. Richard - October 6, 2011

But you’re supposed to plagiarise to make your articles look good..

The thing is, Stephen King is not the most prominent plagiarist at work in Irish media. That honour goes to George Hook.


Two weeks later Hook was published in the Irish Times defending fee-paying schools.


And, of course, there have been no consequences with regard to his radio programme.

Now you could argue that O’Neill makes a living from writing and therefore the theft is more serious, and it probably is in terms of the morality of each plagiarist’s actions. But what is worth noting is the difference in reaction. Whereas the Irish Examiner seems to have been quite active in acknowledging the problem, I have not seen anything from the Irish Independent in that respect. It did not trouble the editors of the Irish Times to publish Hook subsequently. (And needless to say it did not trouble his employers at Denis O’Brien’s CommuniKorps). I find it hard to believe that the Irish Times, which considers itself the standard bearer for Irish journalism, was ignorant of it. I think it is more likely that they did not consider it an issue because Hook is marketed as a slobbering shock-jock inclined toward the odd lapse in etiquette, and thus a leniency was showed towards him because he may be considered a ‘bit of a character’. Well, his radio show is disgusting right-wing claptrap and he cheerled the blueshirts on to victory as MC at their Nuremburguette at the Aviva stadium before the last election. And nothing has been done about it because….?


WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2011



meng die - October 8, 2011

The Independent’s picked up on the Stephen King accusation


Not a mention of it’s own little problem with Hooky of course.


18. irishelectionliterature - October 7, 2011

I see Kings column has been suspended by The Examiner.


WorldbyStorm - October 8, 2011

It’s crazy stuff. How on earth do they think they can get away with this in the current era?


Starkadder - October 11, 2011

The Irish Examiner is investigating allegations of plagiarism against one of its columnists…
It is alleged he (King) copied large sections of a recent column from a speech delivered by Brendan O’Neill last year…
On Twitter, Mr Vaughan promised to investigate the allegations.

“We are looking into claims that opinion columns by Steven King contained plagiarised material.”

Mr King was a special advisor to the Ulster Unionist leader during the 1990s in the run-up to the signing of the historic Good Friday Agreement. His column has been “discontinued”.



19. ejh - October 8, 2011

Theresa May, anybody?


20. Kings of Plagiarism: a Prime Minister (Taoiseach), a President and Unionist Small Fry « Tomás Ó Flatharta - October 8, 2011
21. tomasoflatharta - October 8, 2011

Perhaps Enda Kenny deserves some analysis ; many Cedar Lounge Readers know of a very well-publicised incident of plagiarism recently while the current Taoiseach shared a platform with Barack Obama :

Kings of Plagiarism: a Prime Minister (Taoiseach), a President and Unionist Small Fry



22. sonofstan - October 8, 2011

‘Only be sure. please, to always call it ‘research”


23. ejh - October 8, 2011

Possibly with politicians, the problem is that they’re not writing the speeches, their young researchers are, and these are precisely the sort of kids who have got used to getting away with things.


24. Starkadder - October 8, 2011

On the subject of Hari: should the Cedar Lounge Revolution
be keeping Hari’s website on its list of links after he has been
found to be putting out false information?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: