Polly Plagiarises Polly

Well done to Mr. Portato for noting this:

From today\’s column:

Studying ourselves is something the British do exceptionally well. Social scientists, geneticists, psychologists, demographers, medical researchers and epidemiologists flock here from all over the world, seeking answers to fundamental questions from our unique series of birth cohort studies. No one else has anything like them.

Thousands of babies born within a few months have been studied throughout their lives: the first cohort in 1946, the next in 1958, then 1970. The wealth of information is remarkable, with the oldest subjects now in their 60s. But a disastrous 30-year hiatus left a gaping hole in the histories of a generation. After 1970 surveys were cancelled by Margaret Thatcher, despising social science and perhaps preferring not to know the social consequences of her policies.

From Polly\’s column 7 June 2010.

Studying ourselves is something the British do exceptionally well. Social scientists, geneticists, psychologists, demographers, medical researchers and epidemiologists flock to the country from all over the world, seeking answers to fundamental human questions from Britain\’s unique series of birth cohort studies.

No one else has anything like them. Thousands of babies born within a few months of each other have been studied throughout their entire lives: the first cohort was in 1946, the next in 1958, then 1970. Their parents, their families, their health, their progress in school, their relationships and their careers – all are still monitored regularly.

The wealth of information is remarkable, now the oldest are in their 60s. But after 1970 there was a 30-year hiatus, leaving a gaping hole in the social and medical histories of a lost generation. The survey planned for the 1980s was cancelled by a Conservative government which despised social science – and perhaps would rather not know the social results of its own policies.

Today:

Labour arrived eager for research and immediately commissioned a new birth cohort to mark the millennium, tracking for ever the progress of Blair babies.

Last year:

Labour arrived in 1997, keen to gather research on all aspects of policy and eager to commission a new millennium birth cohort to track the progress of Labour\’s babies.

Thing is, she\’s on salary, so the Editor can\’t really ask to reduce her fee by the amount that she\’s quoted (without attribution) herself.

And no, of course it isn\’t a scandal. Quoting yourself is just fine and dandy, although it is usually prefaced by an \”As I said earlier\” or two.

13 comments on “Polly Plagiarises Polly

  1. That’s almost as bad as the one from Littlejohn a few weeks ago, where he was directly lifting something from an article he’d written about five years ago, and passing it off as a new article.

  2. Quoting oneself suggests a rather high level of self-regard.

    In a Steve Bell cartoon in the 1980s, David Owen said:
    “I believe- and I think rightly so- that…”

  3. Tim, I insist, you need more difficult targets.

    With your network of internet spies and the arrogant attitude of your targets, it is just too easy….

    What fun!

  4. At an academic level, unacknowledged self-plagiarism (‘autoplagiarism’) is the same as any other form of plagiarism. On a large enough scale it can cause you to fail a degree.

    Kind of ironical when Ms Toynbee is defending birth cohorts for their academic potential.

  5. I don’t recall the Thatcher government criminalizing sociological research, or rounding up those who tried to learn a little more about their fellow citizens and carting them off to Labour camps. Does Polly mean simply that sociologists were giving a bit less of other people’s money than they had previously received, and chose to cut that research rather than something else? The project (in many ways very interesting) could have been carried out without Mrs T’s permission surely?

  6. But what has been the benefit of those studies, other than providing jobs for social science graduates and material for “social commentators*”?

    *I think that’s what she’s called when appearing on the BBC.

  7. You cannot answer fundamental questions from cohort studies – they merely provide data from which one may deduce correlations and provide ideas for asking questions and carrying out basic research to look for answers.
    So the next question is whether Polly Toynbee is just plain stupid or is deliberately misleading on the topic or is assuming that the rest of us are stupid and trying to sound clever. No, that’s not a fundamental question because the answer is (iii) about 90% of the time.
    I do try to ignore her but occasionally her insolence gets under my skin. I have no problem with condescension from my superiors (which is rarer than it should be) but condescension from intellectuals inferiors like her periodically gets irritating.

  8. The benefit to us as a society? Minimal.

    The benefit to the social engineers? Massive. Both in future employment, and in advancing their goals.

    And does anyone ever question the ethics of signing up your newborns to be prodded, poked and sampled?

  9. She has obviously been learning from that great scribe Murphy, who regularly quotes from his own reports, without mentioning the authorship.

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