An anonymous respondent forwarded this short story to us, a despatch from
a shallow grave the trenches (pure fiction of course):
This is my Zombie story. Exhausted by another tight deadline – no make that six tight deadlines – I found myself searching the internet for some quick and dirty research. I just needed a couple of definitions to get me going. Of course wicked-paedia was my source, helped by searching with Voogle. With a tweak and a fiddle I found I could create a paragraph that sounded like my own (but was really inspired by those wicked-paedia pages). All went well. My colleagues thought I was pretty good because I could always generate some more words to go with the next part of the papers or report we were writing.
But one day a zombie paper I’d created came back to eat me. As a fun exercise someone decided to run some colleagues’ published papers through a text matching (mixed thatching) software program. Guess what they found? Yes, somewhere between 10% and 30% of our published work came from the un-dead world of cyberspace. I was named and shamed. I might have been able to get away with using the wicked-paedia once or twice, but my appetite for the pre-digested had become insatiable (I had ambition to satiate and some ERA rankings to feed).
The university had to act. First they removed me from the list of academic integrity officers. Well I could hardly sit in judgement of others when I was bereft of integrity myself. No wonder I was so good at searching out offenders – I knew all the tricks. Next they asked me to relinquish my role as Sub Dean and Chair of the Faculty Assessment Committee. Finally, the asked a recently retired member of staff (someone so old we all thought he was already dead) to investigate the allegations made against me. I am now on extended leave without pay while a decision is made. I live in limbo, no in purgatory! I have no future, but cannot create a new future until this is over.
The groves of academe and the lofty ivory towers made me this way . . . and now I am abandoned in the back lots of the graveyard shift at McDonald’s. Strangely, I now have the time to carry out the thorough research and careful writing that I so earnestly desired. Without my heavy teaching burden and many academic governance responsibilities I have the one resource that I could not get. But my heart is broken. I hate myself and my mind is consumed, not by a zombie, but by grief and revenge. And I will have my revenge. I now spend my days running the published works of my nearest and dearest colleagues through the ‘mixed thatching’ software. I don’t know if I do this because I want to warm them of ‘the plight of not giving cred’ or if I want to see them become like me. If more of them are like me, or become like me, I’ll no longer be in the minority. I’ll no longer be shut out. We can eat each other’s brains and take over the world.
I’ve got to be careful because I’ve heard that there is a new contagion developing in a lab somewhere in Adelaide. I know they are working on it because I’ve overheard words like ‘developing a culture . . .’ and ‘spreading’, and ‘disseminating’. This thing could be dangerous and interfere with the practice my own foul habits. I’ll keep you posted . . . I’ll be out in the graveyard tonight . . . two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun.