Since writing the first follow up on Saturday (July 30) to the initial blog post “Ed Smith pulls a Melania Trump“, I had been working various avenues and contacts to find the answer to the simple question: Did Ed Smith write the piece “Stress: What makes us stronger” that appeared in The Economist on July 23?
Based on the details I have learned in the process, it can be confidently stated that Ed Smith did not write the original piece or have any hand in it, and in fact, the piece was written by one of The Economist’s staff journalists.
I have also learned that The Economist is satisfied with the amended column at ESPNcricinfo “Why sportsmen need stress” with the (belated) attribution and the footnote acknowledging the same, and does not seem to have any issues or reasons to take any further action on this matter.
It is possible that Mr. Smith was inspired to write his ESPNcricinfo column after he came across the piece in The Economist. But he doesn’t appear to have thought or found it fit to provide any proper citation or attribution to The Economist even as he seems to have taken the liberty to state the studies cited in it, and also a liberal use of the same verbiage in some of the passages as they appeared in the original piece. It was only after the “Ed Smith pulls a Melania Trump” appeared (on July 28) did his column at ESPNcricinfo was amended (on July 29) to include “As The Economist explored recently” with the footnote.
Ah, the footnote! “The author, who has taken an interest in the study of stress and written on the subject for many years, wanted to acknowledge the Economist’s survey of the subject“. [Italics mine]
So much entitlement in that one sentence. That he has taken interest in the study of stress and written on it, somehow absolves him of the sin of not acknowledging nor citing in the first place the work he seems to have been inspired by. It is plainly damage control couched in self-serving words.
The dictionary defines Plagiarism as “[a]n instance of plagiarizing, especially a passage that is taken from the work of one person and reproduced in the work of another without attribution“. In Academia, someone including someone else’s results in their own publication, and attempting to pass it off as their own, without proper citation will be accused, without a doubt, of plagiarism.
It must be noted here again, as I did in the first follow up, that Mr. Smith is Director of an M.A. course on “History of Sport” at the University of Buckingham. One can only wonder how he would have handled if one of the students in his course handed in their dissertation that contained reproduction of someone else’s work without proper attribution or citation.
And as to ESPNcricinfo’s stance in all this, that’s for another post at a later time.