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2014, Cilt 4, Sayı 2, Sayfa(lar) 073-089
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DOI: 10.5961/jhes.2014.091
Within the Timeline of Science Ethics: Two Parenting Advice Books and a Scientific Milestone
Emel AKÖZER1, Mehmet AKÖZER2
1Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Ankara, Turkey
2Social Sector Consultant, Ankara, Turkey
Keywords: Science ethics, Presentism, Ethical principles, Scientific misconduct, Plagiarism

Plagiarism allegations on similarities between Dr. Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child Care (1946) and Dr. İhsan Doğramacı's Annenin Kitabı (1952; The Mother's Book) and the public presentation of the ruling on the 15th of April, 2014 by European Court of Human Rights consummating legal proceedings on these allegations, are not likely to contribute to ensuring a correct understanding of plagiarism as conceived in science ethics in the general public and scientific community. First, the Court has not ruled in support of the veracity of allegations. Second, parallels between the two books – regarding genre, claims to originality, and the nature of similarities – do not justify evaluation in reference to the concept of plagiarism as defined in science ethics. Besides, intellectual property law, on which allegations pretend to be based, cannot be taken to found illegitimacy of plagiarism in terms of science ethics. Science ethics defines plagiarism as misconduct positively with reference to norms of scientific integrity, the fairness principle, and values essential to collaborative work, rather than negatively with reference to violation of intellectual property. In the mid-20th century, in an environment where such principles or values have not yet taken root, the course of the discovery of DNA structure, one of the century's greatest breakthroughs, has enabled ethics violations substantially surpassing issues of intellectual property or plagiarism, and moreover, these violations have apologists even today. Scientific integrity and fairness imply “treating colleagues with integrity and honesty” as equally as “providing proper references and giving due credits to the work of others”. Abusing plagiarism allegations as a means to defame colleagues or permitting such abuse to become commonplace neither suits advocacy of scientific ethics nor complies with the “fairness” principle. A strategy to fight plagiarism must be tested against whether or not it contributes to entrench the norm of scientific integrity and fairness principle or how far it contributes.

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