Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Stealing thoughts
Academia is a small world, as for instance Adrian Miles observes in his vlog and Elisabeth Lane Lawley of mamamusings points out. But in little Norway, academia is smaller than manywhere else in the world, and what goes around comes around rather quickly.

I am thinking of people who steal your thoughts and ideas. I am thinking of thought parasites. The ones who can't make an original link between theory and practice on their own, and prey on others, particularly younger and less established and connected subjects. And they don't steal the ideas where they can be traced, oh no, if you have published you are safe. They steal from drafts, from suggestions, from outlines and conversations. They offer to assist by commenting and reading through your suggestion, then tell you this is not worth pursuing.. and when you look at their work next time they have landed a 100 000$ grant based on your suggestion.

This is sadly a common practice, and some are more infamous for it than others. It's also the reason why many young researchers are afraid to publish prematurely, and don't like the thought of maintaining a blog. I am of the opinion that the blog doesn't make me any more vulnerable to this - it happened to me before blogs, so NOT having one did not protect me - but I can see that it's a reasonable worry. Still, obviously Academia in Norway is small enough that we're able to spot some of the parasites...

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