Plagiarists 'like drug cheats'
By Jared Savage
Friday Nov 20, 2009
A doyen of New Zealand literature has compared plagiarism to drug cheating in sport because of the unfair advantage it gives over contemporaries.
Award-winning author and poet Vincent O'Sullivan, (pic left), an emeritus professor of English at Victoria University, was reluctant to comment directly on the "Witi Ihimaera situation" but said the drugs analogy was fair.
"It's a performance-enhancing technique that works at someone else's expense," he said.
"Apart from the personal ethical issues involved, plagiarism gives an unfair advantage over contemporaries and colleagues."
His comments follow further claims by Professor Keith Sorrenson, a University of Auckland emeritus history professor, that Ihimaera plagiarised his work in the award-winning novel The Matriarch and later apologised to him.
Professor Sorrenson says the latest plagiarism row - in which Professor Ihimaera has admitted using unattributed material from 16 other authors in his latest book, The Trowenna Sea - showed he had "learnt nothing" from the earlier incident.
Professor Sorrenson decided to not lay a formal complaint, but mentioned the plagiarism in passing to a journalist who wrote a story for a Wellington newspaper.
Professor Ihimaera did not respond to telephone messages or emails yesterday.
He has apologised for the "errors" but said the unacknowledged work in The Trowenna Sea was only 0.4 per cent of the 528-page book.
Read the full article in the NZH online.
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