Flawed evidence : a case study of misquoting and inaccurate referencing

  • Ken Masters University of Cape Town
Keywords: Evidence, plagiarism, quotation, Michael Gibbons, referencing


The need to quote and reference accurately is crucial to academic writing and debate. While small errors are excusable, obvious interpretations, alterations, additions and deletions are not, unless indicated. In addition, primary texts are preferred; if secondary texts are used, this should also be clearly indicated. This article details a case in which these rules have been ignored. It begins by identifying the scope of the particular case: the mis-quoting of Michaels Gibbons. It then traces the route of the inaccurate quotation as it moves from its source through various influential documents and journal articles, until it is firmly established, and easily cross-referenced, but as a vague resemblance of the original, not recognised by the original author. Although this article deals with this one case, it is obvious that the circumstances are not unique, and that there is little reason to suppose that these events cannot be replicated elsewhere. This case illustrates the need for writers to always, where possible, refer to the original documents when citing them.
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