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A Reply to a Plagiarism Accusation

Updated on March 19, 2011

Text of New Hubber 'just kidding's' Request For Me

Why in the WORLD would you plagiarize someone else's work?!?!?!

Your root beer article thingy has the exact same wording as professor fankhauser's, and you didn't list him as a source!!! that's totally plagiarism!!!!!!!!!!!! I created an account on hub pages just so I could ask you that question, so I better get a good answer! I am a huge fan of fankhauser's work . also I posted a comment on the page.
asked by just kidding 29 hours ago

Just Kidding - Did You Bother to Read My Hub Before Making This Request?

March 19, 2011

Just Kidding - since you went to the trouble of opening an account on HubPages solely for the purpose of posting this question I will answer your question despite the fact that I previously posted a 1,329 word reply to the same accusation made by Dr. Frankhauser himself two years ago in the Comments section of my Hub entitled How to Brew Root Beer and Ginger Ale.

However, before continuing, I have a question of my own for you and that is, have you actually read my How to Brew Root Beer and Ginger Ale Hub as well as Dr. Frankhauser’s pages entitled Making Root Beer at Home and Making Ginger Ale At Home both of which appear on the website maintained by his university and to both of which I have links to in my Hub?

I Have Never Copied Other People's Work

I ask this question because I honestly doubt that you bothered to read any of the above mentioned pieces as, contrary to your accusation that my root beer article thingy has the exact same wording as professor fankhauser's, I did not use the exact same wording as Professor Frankhauser used on his site.

First, I have never copied and pasted works by others and then claimed them as my own and I never will do this as it is unethical and illegal.

Second, as I have explained to Dr. Frankhauser both in my reply to his comment on my Hub two years ago and in an earlier private email to him, I was not even aware of his web site until he included a link to it in the comments he first posted on my Hub during the last week of December 2007. (While I don’t mind criticism of my writing or of my positions on topics I write about, I do object to unfounded personal attacks on my character which is why I deleted Dr. Frankhauser’s December 2007 comments on the Hub.)

Following the receipt of Dr. Frankhauser’s 2007 accusation, I went so far as to copy and paste the content of my Hub into a Google Search bar and did a search to see if his website would come up. It didn’t, but I did find three other instances of my content having been copied and pasted into sites by others (one was in the form of a sidebar of the newspaper of a college in Washington State - the newspaper appeared both in print and online). None of them credited my Hub as their source and, to my knowledge, all have since been removed.

I did the same with the contents of Dr. Frankhauser’s articles and my Hub did not come up in the results (as I recall one duplicate copy of his site did show up but there was a statement indicating that he had given permission for that site to copy his page).

I say this because, not only was I unable to find his site using my content and vice versa, but HubPages now routinely uses more sophisticated software to search for duplicates and notifies us to either remove the content if we copied it or to contact the other site with a removal notice if they copied our Hub.

While many of my Hubs have been copied by others, Dr. Frankhauser’s article has never shown up as a duplicate of my Root Beer Hub.

Copying, Paraphrasing & Plagiarism

I published the Hub How to Brew Root Beer and Ginger Ale on December 8, 2006 in response to a request on HubPages’ request page. I was unaware of Dr. Frankhauser’s website until a year later when accused me of plagiarizing his work.

Plagiarism can be the simple copying of a work by someone else or it can be the presenting of an original idea by someone else as one’s own. This latter instance is done by re-writing an article by someone else using different words.

This is known as paraphrasing.  Paraphrasing can be used to present an original idea of another as one’s own or as a means of presenting the complete work of another as one’s own. Paraphrasing in this manner is also plagiarism.

Copying or even paraphrasing some facts or ideas from the work of someone else is often acceptable provided the writer identifies it as coming from the work of another and properly cites the author and source of that information.

Professor Frankhauser's Real Complaint

Professor Frankhauser’s real complaint appears to be the fact that he published the content on his website in 1996 and 2000 and that these were the first articles to be published on the web involving the fermentation process and the process for making yogurt, cheese and beverages such as root beer and ginger ale.

Given that the World Wide Web only came into existence in 1994, I have no reason to doubt his claim that he was the first to publish this information on the web.

What I disagree with is his claim that, by being the first to publish this information on the web, he and his sites are to be referenced as the source of the original work in these areas by all future articles on the web on these subjects.

If I am understanding him correctly, I am supposedly guilty of plagiarism not because of the wording of my Hub but because of where I choose to publish it. According to this theory, he would have had no problem with by Hub if I had published it by carving it on a stone, inscribing it on a clay tablet, writing it on a parchment scroll or writing it on paper and publishing it in a book or magazine.

As far a I know, it is content, and not the media on which the content is published, which determines whether there has been a plagiarism or copyright violation.

Professor Frankhauser on His Website Does Not Cite or Give Credit to His Sources

This being the case, then Professor Frankhauser can be accused of plagiarism as well because, as I have pointed out to him in both a January 1, 2008 private email response (to which he has never replied) to his original late December 2007 accusations and in my January 11, 2009 comment on my Hub (it is the 47th or 48th comment immediately below his posting of a day or so before) he does not cite any sources for the recipes and information he posted on his web site.  

Nowhere on his web does Dr. Frankhauser cite or give credit to anyone for his information on fermentation.  
He also does not give credit to any of the sources for his recipes for root beer and ginger ale although his recipes are nearly identical to the recipes and instructions found on the back of the boxes which contain the bottles of root beer and other flavoring concentrates used to make these beverages (regardless of the brand they are all nearly identical to each other and to what Dr. Frankhauser has written on his website).  

Neither does he give credit to any of the recipes found in the numerous cookbooks published during the past century and a half all of which are nearly identical to what appears on the back of the boxes of concentrate, on Dr. Frankhauser’s website, in my Hub and, I suspect, in many introductory high school and college textbooks that contain a unit on fermentation.  

In the Links module of my Hub I have links to eight recipes for ginger ale and root beer, all of which are to books in the vast online library of Google Books and all of which were published (one as long ago as 1866) prior to Dr. Frankhauser’s publishing of them on his website.

I Was Making Root Beer, Wine and Yogurt Almost Three Decades Before Dr. Frankhauser Put Up His Website

You asked why I didn’t list Dr. Frankhauser as my source.  Well, what I have described above is one reason why.  

Again, I was not only not aware of Dr. Frankhauser’s website until a year after I wrote and published that Hub but I already knew about  how fermentation worked and had experience, beginning in the early 1970s when my younger brother and I began making yogurt, wine and root beer as a hobby.  

This was years before the two Steves, Jobs and Wozniak, came out with the Apple computer in 1976, before IBM came out with their first Personal Computer in 1981 and before the World Wide Web came into existence in 1993, to say nothing of Dr. Frankhauser publishing his website in 1996.

Over the years I have also toured numerous wineries and breweries in the United States and Europe.  These tours have always included talks by the guides on the fermentation and brewing process.  

Finally, for the record, I did not claim credit for inventing the fermentation process or for devising the recipes for root beer and ginger ale as you implied in your request.  

We Both Wrote about A Process That Has Been Discussed and Used for Thousands of Years

While I did not give credit to Dr. Frankhauser whose website was published some 6,000 years or more after the ancients first discovered and used fermentation, I did note in the first paragraph of my Hub that ancient peoples discovered the fermentation process (however, since they didn’t leave any records of the discovery, I was unable to cite a specific source for this discovery).

Further, in the second paragraph I state that root beer and similar so called small beers were brewed regularly by people in Elizabethan England (Elizabeth I reigned from 1558–1603) and Colonial America (this would have been before the Declaration of Independence in 1776).

I also mentioned in my 2009 comment on my Hub that since ancient times illiterate criminals in prison and soldiers in the ranks have been using the fermentation process to brew, usually forbidden, alcoholic beverages. One obviously does not need to read, let alone have a PhD in chemistry, to be able to explain this process.

As I stated in my lengthy 2009 reply to Dr. Frankhauser’s 2009 comment on my Hub (the 47th & 48th items in the Comments Module) neither of us presented any new or unique information or discoveries.

Instead we both wrote about a simple process that has been known and used by humans for 6,000 years or more. As to the recipes in question, they have been handed down for generations since at least the Middle Ages and are nothing more than instructions for combining 4 or 5 ingredients in more or less fixed proportions to produce a beverage. There is no unique way of presenting these recipes as one either describes them the same way as thousands of others have done or say nothing.

Despite His and His Student's Baseless Accusations, I Still Admire His Writing

I have no beef with Dr. Frankhauser and respect him as an authority in his field.

He did an excellent job of presenting information on the same topic as I wrote on and after learning of his site I not only included links to his pages describing the process of making root beer and ginger ale but also left in place the links he provided to his site in the 2009 comment he posted in the Comments section of my Hub.

In closing, I have to ask, if I had actually copied Dr. Frankhauser’s work why would I have been so stupid as to provide links to the evidence of my transgression?


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    • profile image

      A UC Clermont student 

      7 years ago

      I am currently a student at UC Clermont. Dr. Fankhauser was my A&P professor, and I would have to say that he is a very good professor. However, I think the accusation of plagiarism that he has made is wrong. Even if it's just for the sake of the image of our school, I wish he would delete the reference to this from his site.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I agree with melbel and simeonvisser. These accusations are ludacris, and I find it very hard to believe that someone who studied long and hard enough to get a PhD could be serious in a case like this.

      I applaud you for your professional and calm air throughout this issue. Nothing angers me more than being accused of something I did not do, so I empathise with you. I can tell that you are the kind of person who, if it were brought to your attention that you'd done something wrong, you would admit it and apologize. But being repeatedly accused of nonsense must be tiring and aggravating. Again, I want to say I am impressed at your restraint.

      I find it highly amusing that Dr. Frankhauser has not responded at all to your mention that he did not credit HIS sources.

      Perhaps he could take a bit of time away from hunting down root beer recipe bandits, and educate his students on the spelling of his name, eh? =]

    • Rudra profile image


      7 years ago

      Sorry to say but never heard of Dr Frankhauser.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      7 years ago

      This so-called professor's classes must be quite interesting. Obviously, the man has no understanding of the internet. Makes me wonder just what he does understand, besides a years-long pout.

    • Alexander Pease profile image

      Alexander Pease 

      7 years ago from Maine

      That is an awful thing that they did. I could not begin to imagine how to respond to someone if they posted something like that to my profile. It looks as though you handled it well.

      Great hub on the awareness of plagiarism. :D

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      If you want to see a perfect example of plagiarism, check out these two pages:

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 

      7 years ago from Ireland

      A very interesting hub on plagiarism and in your case being falsly accused not once but twice of it.

      Fair Play to you for answering the accusation of 'JustKidding' in a restrained and professional way.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Chuck, you didn't plagiarize anything. Not within the correct usage of the word. I have five or six reputable sources for the information I publish on history topics. Just because I use reliable sources doesn't make my articles plagiarism, either. We all have a variety of sources for the material we publish here, and it's still original work. In your case, you were primarily writing from your own experiences. I really don't see how someone could think that was plagiarism, at all.

      A frivolous accusation does harm. I wish "Just Kidding" would realize that and make like a clam.

    • katiem2 profile image


      7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Chuck, Your work and credibility speaks for itself. I guess you could say it's an honor to be approached by critics, hmmm who has arrived. :) Katie

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      7 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Am I the only one who feel that artists, writers etc. should get over themselves and feel complimented when someone else uses their work?

    • ocbill profile image


      7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      The strange thing is even Google paraphrases facts or spurts out paraphrased facts and news from various sources. If the media can do it in print or video(TV) why not the little guy? I think they are after blatant and obvious more than excerpts. It is a tough business to monitor indeed.

    • bobmnu profile image


      7 years ago from Cumberland

      If by writing on a topic that someone else has written about is plagiarism then what about all the stories that follow the theme of Romeo and Juliette? Several years ago a new movie came out call Three Men and A Baby. People raved about the "new Idea" for a movie. This movie was a make over of a John Wayne film "The Three Godfathers". The same could be said of the movie "Pretty Woman" which was a remake of "My Fair Lady". There are a limited number of

      Themes that can be written about so is the First Person to come up with the idea the only one who can use that or any modification of the idea.

      With something like an article posted on how to do something then for it to be plagiarism you would have to show that you cut and pasted the article. I think the good Dr. should get on with his life since he did not invent the process for either of the two drinks.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am sure that David Fankhauser's is not the first person in the world to make Root Beer. As long as he did not patent his process, anybody can make the beer and write about it.

      JustKidding is doing exactly that: just kidding.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 

      7 years ago

      who is Dr. Frankhauser and how many different ways can you make Root Beer or Ginger Ale?

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Palen 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      The thing is that he didn't even invent root beer. Just because you write something on the Internet first doesn't mean you have a copyright on making root beer.

      For example, I have a hub on unicru. It is one of the foremost anti-unicru articles out there -- it has been cited in the wall street journal, etc. There have thus been many articles made explaining similar ideas.

      I doubt I'm the first person to be angry at Unicru, I'm just one of the first to express it online. Do I care that others also express their distaste for unicru on the Internet? No. I don't. Because I care so much for the ideas that I present in my hub, it pleases me to see that many other people are on the same bus. Dr whatever should be happy that making root beer (although you were not aware of his work until AFTER you published your hub) is popular. Isn't the purpose of creating an article supposed to be about sharing ideas? What if I were to read his work, try making root beer and come up with my OWN method? Can I not publish my variations online according to his line of thinking? Isn't the point of research to have other people use it to do further research? Going out on a limb, but this is maddening. You're dealing with it very reasonably. :)

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Chasuk - thanks for your comments and the link to the article on the Copyright Office website.

    • graceomalley profile image


      7 years ago

      I think the limits of copywrite and patents as well as being pushed these days. Maybe these meanings are somewhat in flux, or maybe some just hope they are. I recently saw a documentary (I think it was Food Inc.), and corporations are currently trying to patent all sorts of things - seeds (which can blow onto your land without your knowledge, but you can then be sued by said corporation for infringing on their patent) and even tortillas. Tortillas have been around for thousands of years, but a corporation is trying to patent them. I think the rest of us have to push back against this sort of thing, and keep both practise and law on the side of reason.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image


      7 years ago

      I read the three articles in question and did some Google searches for comparison, and there does not appear to be any plagiarism involved. I wanted to run it through, but the free use of that tool had exceed monthly usage and was not able to.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      This is helpful for an understanding of plagiarism. Thanks!

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      simeonvissor - thanks for your comment. This is exactly my point which is that this was a general information article and not the announcement of a new scientific discovery.

      I also agree that if I were a student assigned to write a research paper on this topic of fermentation and the making of root beer and ginger ale and I submitted the Hub in question as written and published on HubPages I would be given a failing grade and possibly expelled for plagiarism for not citing my references.

      However, I doubt that if Dr. Frankhauser was my professor, a failing grade or attempt at expulsion would not stand up on appeal if I had properly cited a reference for each fact. This would be true even if I properly cited references from the web other but did not use Dr. Frankhauser's article on the web as a source.

      Even though my root beer Hub was a general information article and not an academic piece and therefore did not require citation for the information which is common knowledge, I have since first being contacted by Dr. Frankhauser, researched and found written sources for all of the facts both of us used, but neither of us cited, in our respective pieces.

      While not original source material or even unique perspectives on the topic, every one of these sources was copyrighted prior to 1996 the year Dr. Frankhauser first posted his material to the web.

      Further, none of these books cited previous authors as their sources (they didn't cite anything at all) for the simple reason that they were just passing on common knowledge. Even the 1866 Jenny June cookbook I linked to in Google Books in the preface proudly described the extensive travel and interviews they undertook to collect the recipes that people told them from memory - memories of their mothers and grandmother's for generations before who had handed down through the ages.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This may have some relevance:

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I do have to say that I am a former student of Dr. Fankhausers, and I know that we made the items that you speak of as part of our labs back in the late 90's. However, like you said before it is easy to see that they are close, but anyone can see that fermentation is going to be close no matter how you publish it. You can only put it into words a couple of ways.

    • simeonvisser profile image


      7 years ago

      "What I disagree with is his claim that, by being the first to publish this information on the web, he and his sites are to be referenced as the source of the original work in these areas by all future articles on the web on these subjects."

      This might reflect a misunderstanding of the web. In science you need to cite the first publication that presents a certain idea / proof but that does not apply to the web. On the web there is no requirement to find the first possible page that publishes something because that would be 1) unneccessary and 2) impossible in most cases.

      And as you say, you don't need a PhD to understand this; this is not a scientific publication but just a general informational article.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @inmate702: You seem to be arguing that David Fankhauser's expertise grants him sole disseminator privileges. This nonexistent privilege apparently justifies false accusations of plagiarism.

      Your irrelevant recollections of yogurt making inspired neither awe, nor ridicule, but they did succeed in making your fatuous support of David Fankhauser even more ludicrous.

    • profile image 

      7 years ago

      Professor David Fankhauser should get this information for his vast knowledge on fermentation and his exclusivity on the process...

      Beer and root beer were not the most popular drinks in my Old Country located some place in the Balkans, however every one used to make yogurt, cheese, plum brandy and other products which are a result of fermentation long before his article.

      I remember that my grandmother had the best yogurt and cheese and the best cherry brandy I ever tested in my life...

      I am a city boy, yet I used to make yogurt all the time. The process was very easy. The mils sold in the grocery stores was not pasteurized as it should have been, and still contained most of the enzymes it was supposed to have removed. Buying a bottle of milk (glass) and letting it on the window silt for a couple of days turned it into buttermilk or eventually yogurt if a few things were added.

      I think that the good professor needed some attention and this was the only way he could get it!

      Too bad that some people don't know the limit between sublime and ridiculous...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      David Fankhauser is funny. He claims to be a professor at someplace named Clermont College, yet he seems unfamiliar with the definition of plagiarism. He also seems to believe that Chuck is one of the owners of Hubpages. You would think that a professor would possess greater comprehension skills. However, if "just kidding" is a student of Clermont College, then I probably shouldn't be surprised!!!!!!!!!!!!


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