Some philosophy articles might be exposed as containing plagiarized material, might have editorial notes appended to them indicating as much, or might even be retracted, yet no matter how thoroughly or how many times their plagiarism is noted, they will continue to be cited in the literature and affect the course of scholarship.
Retractions occur for several reasons, some related to research misconduct (such as plagiarism, fabrication and falsification). The continued citation of retracted work is a significant and severe concern. The fact that this is occurring means the body of scientific knowledge is being compromised and polluted. Steps must be taken before we cite work, to ensure it has not been retracted. This item, published in November 2023, looks at this problem in philosophy.
In July 2010, Michael V. Dougherty, Pernille Harsting, and Russell L. Friedman published a dossier detailing extensive plagiarism in the work of Martin W.F. Stone, who worked in medieval and Renaissance philosophy. They gave it the straightforward title, “40 Cases of Plagiarism“, noting “it is important to emphasize that the list is not exhaustive.” One aim of publishing it was to make it easier for researchers to identify and cite the roughly 170 plagiarized sources and their authors, rather than the plagiarizing works.
Thirteen years later, Professor Dougherty revisits those 40 cases to focus on “the troubling phenomenon of positive citations to these plagiarizing works in recent publications on medieval and early modern philosophy.”
In “After ’40 Cases’: The Downstream Citation of Plagiarizing Articles in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy Research,” published recently in Vivarium, he writes:
With few exceptions, the plagiarizing journal articles and book chapters examined in “40 Cases”—even the retracted ones—have continued to receive positive citations in the research literature over the last decade, with no sign of abatement. These positive citations, sometimes accompanied by extracts that further commend plagiarizing work to readers, are typically used to corroborate some interpretive point. The infelicitous phenomenon of continued downstream citations to retracted research literature has been documented in other disciplines, mostly in the natural and biomedical sciences. Now the humanities possesses a wide-scale undeniable example of such a downstream corruption involving medieval and early modern philosophy research.