What’s yours is mine… or is it?
‘Steal with pride’… is a phrase that I’ve heard a number of times in NHS meetings. But is that approach really acceptable? Let’s consider two definitions from the Cambridge online dictionary and then look at three case studies and assume that in each case, you are the aggrieved party. In each instance, consider if your work has been: a) stolen, b) plagiarised, c) both or d) neither…
STEALING: ‘to take something without the permission or knowledge of the owner’
PLAGIARISM: ‘the process or practice of using another person’s ideas or work and pretending that it is your own’…
CASE STUDY 1: The Director of a National Clinical Audit is giving a high profile talk in the USA and you observe via a YouTube clip that in her presentation she uses an infographic you have created that timelines the recent history of clinical audit. Mysteriously your logo has been removed and you are not referenced. However, it is clearly your work in terms of both content and execution.
CASE STUDY 2: You are looking through Twitter and spot a Clinical Audit Action Plan infographic. On further examination, you notice that this has been copied word-for-word from a document you created. Your logo and all graphics have been removed and there is no reference to your work. The Trust concerned have re-badged your work as their own and re-designed your original infographic. And your infographic looked better!
CASE STUDY 3:You become aware of a Trust that have taken your training materials and re-badged them with their own corporate logo. While your logo has not been removed, in almost all cases the Trust’s logo is now very prominent and bigger than your logo. This is work you have created and copyrighted but shared widely for others to use.
To shed more light, these are all real-world scenarios that have happened to CASC over the last 12 months. We could call out those involved and mention 2 other similar recent cases, but we aren’t like that! It is very annoying especially as we know that if we did the same to the NHS then legal proceedings would almost certainly ensue. But in many ways, we take it as a compliment when people try to pass our stuff off as their own.
That said, you may be aware that CASC don’t currently have full access to the NQICAN forum. Apparently, this is because we have been told we may gain a commercial advantage, presumably from seeing what other people are talking about and sharing online! We’ve got to be honest… this is a bugbear as we always attempt to source and reference the work of others. Is this the case for all, whether they work in the NHS or outside of it? For us, it should be pretty simple… if you have worked in clinical audit then conducting the process itself teaches you to search for best practice and reference/acknowledge it. But keep a look out, because as our case studies show, not everyone follows this simple rule.
Indeed, there is a distinct possibility that what you have created is currently being ‘stolen with pride’. Hopefully you’ll catch them out… the fun bit is certainly listening to all the excuses…
Please read more from plagiarismsearch.com (where we sourced the above image for this article). Their article on why people plagiarise is excellent and is linked here.