Textbook Plagiarism

A student who plagiarizes (even in high school, presumably) faces serious disciplinary action. But a textbook that plagiarizes? No one in the $4 billion U.S. textbook industries much minds that. See the New York Times story. There’s some comment on the pitfalls of ghostwriting, too:

William Cronon, a historian at the University of Wisconsin who wrote the American Historical Association’s statement on ethics, said textbooks were usually corporate-driven collaborative efforts, in which the publisher had extensive rights to hire additional writers, researchers and editors and to make major revisions without the authors’ final approval. The books typically synthesize hundreds of works without using footnotes to credit sources.

“This is really about an awkward and embarrassing situation these authors have been put in because they’ve got involved in textbook publishing,” Professor Cronon said.

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