Thanks to the development of technology the world is getting smaller and smaller. As the people from different parts of the world communicate more frequently, cross language plagiarism, also called translation plagiarism, is bound to arise. In most cases, authors can directly copy ideas from other language and culture without taking any risks. Meanwhile, the authors can gain both fame and wealth in their region. On the other hand, even if we detect the authors who plagiarized ideas from other language, it’s very difficult to judge it. Moreover, there is almost no such possibility to stop as they usually cross international borders. In this article, a typical case of translation plagiarism will be introduced, and followed by reasons, social impact and potential solutions.
“Fang Zhouzi” is one of the most famous Chinese scientific writers who is also well known for his campaign against pseudoscience and fraud in China. He is keen to find other Chinese scholar’s plagiarism cases and make the result known to the public. Chinese people always said “Tall trees catch much wind”, which means a person of high position is liable to be attacked. As he became more and more famous, some of his articles are even found to be plagiarism. Most of them are considered to be translation plagiarism.
According to China Academic Integrity Review, more than 60 of his articles have suspicion about plagiarism. I cannot say all of those 60 are cross language plagiarism. At least, some of them really make sense. Here is a famous example of his plagiarism:
In 1995, he was a graduate student in Michigan State University. He wrote a paper, “What Is Science？” (《科学是什么？》), which discusses the definition of science. In next decades, this essay was published both on the internet and even in a book. None of them mentioned the reference. It appears that the whole content of that writing belongs to Fang himself.
However, the main idea of his essay belongs to Dr. Robert Root-Bernstein, a professor at MSU. In the book Science and Creationism, wrote by Dr. Robert Root-Bernstein in 1984, a paper titled “On Defining a Scientific Theory: Creationism Considered” summarized four sets of criteria which define a scientific theory.
The following comparisons indicate that both essays have almost the same ideas:
Dr. Root-Bernstein wrote:
“There are four primary logical criteria for a theory. It must be (1.a) a simple unifying idea that postulates nothing unnecessary (‘Occam’s Razor’); (1.b) Logically consistent internally; (1.c) logically falsifiable (i. e., cases must exist in which the theory could be imagined to be invalid); (1.d) clearly limited by explicitly stated boundary conditions so that it is clear whether or not any particular data are or are not relevant to the verification or falsification of the theory.”
“Logically, a theory must be 1) in accordance with ‘Occam’s Razor’, i. e. simple, without unnecessary details, without lots of postulates and conditions...