Professor warns of plagiarism in economics profession


Plagiarism is more than a university policy. It is also a concern in the economic professional world.

Dr. Gary A. Hoover, a professor of economics at the University of Alabama, discussed the threat of unpunished plagiarism in the economics profession with TCU students and faculty Friday afternoon in Reed Hall.

“I have seen more of the underside of the economics profession because people ask me to consult on cases. I am wondering if anyone in the profession is well behaved,” Hoover said.

Hoover helped lead a survey concerning the plagiarism of words and ideas within the economics profession after a collaborative work he participated in was plagiarized without consequence. Some economists who have submitted plagiarized material to academic journals are not being punished for their actions, Hoover said.

Hoover serves on a plagiarism committee for RePEc, a collaborative volunteer group with an online database of economic research papers, according to its website. Since he began his study on plagiarism in economics, Hoover has found that even well-known and respected economists can be involved, he said.

The professional world of economics lacks an established code of ethics, Hoover said. If this type of academic misconduct is not damaging professional reputations, everyone is at risk of being plagiarized, he said.

Survey results showed that economics professionals of any age and experience are at risk of plagiarism, Hoover said. J.P. Andrew, a TCU philosophy alumnus, said he had not thought to worry about plagiarism when sending his work out for review before attending Hoover’s lecture.

Because plagiarism is as simple as cutting and pasting with today’s technology, things are going to get worse, Richard Galvin, the Betty Wright Endowed Chair in Applied Ethics, said.

Professors in the university's economics department, whom Galvin has communicated with, are very much interested in ethics, he said. However, this awareness is not always the case. Hoover said he never learned about ethics while studying economics.

Charles Sawyer, a professor of economics who organized the event, closed the lecture by reminding attendees that there may be people working as hard to steal research as they are to do research.

The lecture was part of a seminar series that began in October 2012 by the TCU economics department.