The sincerest form of flattery

Wed 17 Sep 2008 02:14 PM

Philip Kitcher introduced the phrase 'Galilean Strategy' in a 2001 paper to describe a form of realist argument. I wrote about it shortly after, and my paper was published in 2003. Today, the top Google result for the phrase 'galilean strategy' is this page, the abstract of a paper at African Journals Online. The paper, which apparently appeared in Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy in 2006, bears the byline E J Udokang. Suspiciously, the title of the paper (Success, Truth and the Galilean Strategy) is only a comma away from being the title of my paper. The abstract, but for a few spelling errors introduced in the Sophia version, is verbatim my abstract.

I have contacted the editor of the journal, which seems for all I can tell to be otherwise reputable.

Plagiarism this blatant is pretty shocking, because I have always had copies of my papers available on my website. Any referee or editor would have no trouble finding my original version, if they took the time to look. The enterprising plagiarist is better advised to lift prose from papers by luddites who only allow their words to appear in expensive, closed-access formats.

If a paper of mine were reprinted somewhere, under ordinary circumstances, then I could extend the line on my CV to mention both the original publication and the republication. Here that does not seem to be an option, unless I am willing to punish plagiarism with identity theft and claim that E J Udokang is a pen name. That way lies madness, though, and it is better to let it go. I am never likely to be in a situation where my reputation is tarnished his plagiarism, where an interlocutor thinks me presumptuous for coopting the insights of Mister Udokang.

Update, one day later

Udokang's abstract is still the first result when googling 'galilean strategy.' However, this blog entry is the first thing you get if you google 'e j udokang.' My revenge!


from: Greg

Wed 17 Sep 2008 08:10 PM

This is completely unbelievable! That's a twilight zone level of weird. Good luck sorting that out...