Monday, September 12, 2011

German speaking self-plagiarism?

No doubt that the "Frey affair" has created enormous polemic and has opened a deep discussion about research ethics in Economics as well as questioning on the incentives of the "publication industry" (described as prostitution by Frey himself). After the original self-plagiarism issue with Titanic data appeared, various other potential cases have raised. Recently Frey has written a letter to the ("dismayed") editors of JEP, basically recognizing his mistake. 

The reason to rise the issue again is a recent analysis that relates Frey's behavior as part of the "German(-speaking) academic environment", where "the typical German professor publishes a lot of rather insignificant articles, in particular book chapters and "Festschrifts." These works are rarely original, and are not expected to be so." The comment had immediate impact in the blogsphere (e.g. here). 

Since I have recently moved to this "environment" I would like to hear the opinion of my colleagues about this point. I can see that there is a tension between the traditional German way and the now international (Anglo-Saxon?) standards of academia. Various Economics Departments (like here in Frankfurt, and also in University of Zurich, where Frey was kind of outsider for what I have heard) have started adopting structures similar to American and UK universities. It is likely that the tension between the traditional and the new academic structures creates incentives for self-plagiarism?? (something probably not considered as a problem in the former system) 

I also think that the strong emphasis in the Handelsblatt ranking can partially influence in this behavior. 

Anyhow, for what I have seen, I think that generalizing the "Frey affair" to the whole German(speaking) academic system is exaggerated.   

No comments:

Post a Comment