Tag Archives: Plagiarism

The Case of the Lionfish and the 12-Year-Old Accused Plagiarist

The Case of the Lionfish and the 12-Year-Old Accused Plagiarist

Lionfish ImageEarlier this month, Lauren Arrington became a global celebrity. In late 2012, she performed an experiment on lionfish, an aggressive species of poisonous fish that has been overtaking coral reefs in the United States, that showed the fish could survive in lower salinity water.

This finding led to something of a media frenzy this month, with several publications including NPR and CBS doing reports on Lauren’s work.

Those reports credited Lauren for discovering that lionfish could survive in fresh water, saying that it was a discovery that “shocked” ecologists and brought about drastic reform, including a ban on the import of lionfish into Florida.

However, the attention upset Zack Jud, who posted this to his Facebook Page:

According to Jud, he had made that discovery in 2010. He had even published a paper to that effect in 2011 (PDF). Lauren’s father, Albrey Arrington, is listed as a contributor on that paper.

The media turned on Lauren. She went from being the student was schooling ecologists, do being accused of stealing credit.

Unfortunately, the story isn’t that simple. Lauren and her father may have done some things wrong, but the situation is neither a cookie cutter case of a child prodigy nor is it a standard case of plagiarism.

Instead, it’s a case where questionable media coverage may have hurt the reputation not just of a young girl, but also her father and other researchers unfairly.Continue Reading