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Plagiarism

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by EvanJ, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

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    1. Has anybody read "The Little Book of Plagiarism" by Richard A. Posner? I just read part of it that is available for free online. Posner says that plagiarism should not be defined as "stealing" because plagiarism does not affect the contents of what you plagiarized. He says plagiarism should not be defined as "borrowing" because the plagiarizer does not return what he or she plagiarized. He also mentions that if you buy a paper and submit it in a class, you are not doing anything the author of the paper would have a problem with but you are still doing something wrong. He also states that students do not care about the sources their textbooks use. I agree with this for the most part, and it reminded me of a book I used in a Fall 2005 Political Science class that disruptively had citations at the end of sentences rather than using endnotes. Page 192 of Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Politics in the United States (Third Edition) by David W. Neubauer and Stephen S. Meinhold has 7 citations.

    2. How much were people here taught about plagiarism while they were students? I had to learn about several types of plagiarism at the beginning of an Economics course in Spring 2005.

    For anybody here who is a teacher or professor:
    3. How good are you at catching plagiarism?
    4. Is it very annoying to you when students plagiarize?
    5. How does the plagiarism rate of your students compare to what you expected before you started teaching?
    6. Do you agree with your school's or department's punishment(s) for students' plagiarism?
    7. Have you ever charged a student with plagiarism but had your proposed punishment overruled by somebody of a higher rank after the student appealed your charge?
     


  2. JeffUreta

    JeffUreta New Member

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    funny that i learned the word Plagiarism in the forums. :)
     
  3. Iceblink

    Iceblink Member

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    Plagiarism will get worse and worse.

    I have had students do a research paper like this:

    1. Get a topic.
    2. Go to Wikipedia.
    3. Print Wikipedia page.
    4. Turn in.

    Also like this:

    1. Get a topic.
    2. Google topic.
    3. Go to first link.
    4. Copy page and paste it into a word document.
    5. Increase font to 22 to meet page requirement.
    6. Create works cited page because the teacher says you must cite your work.
    7. Citation 1: Google.

    I'm willing to bet it's barely better in colleges with people just being passed through with no merit whatsoever.

    It's how I get them too.

    The truth is, my students don't even understand what plagiarism is. They think it's copying things word for word. Many think that if they change a few words here and there they're not plagiarizing... and that I won't find it.

    They don't know how to use their own words and use source material as evidence. Many just copy something, paste it, cite it, copy something else, paste it, cite it, copy.....

    There is almost nothing that these students come in knowing.

    I don't know what's happened. I distinctly remember writing a paper for seventh grade health on psychoneuroimmunology... a topic I found in a Psychology Today magazine. I also remember knowing that I needed multiple sources and that most of it needed to be in my own words. I remember knowing how to use APA style documentation then. I remember reading the article and actually finding it interesting and finding a lot to say about it.

    I also remember getting a deserved A on this research paper.

    I was not a stellar student. I was the kind of student who wouldn't do any work for a teacher I didn't like. But even I can't relate to the utter laziness and apathy of today's students. Of course, I teach in a low-income, minority area. All the constant testing, testing, testing, testing, and the pressure to pass, pass, pass, pass, pass have turned the students into people who will not make it in society... who have no sense of responsibility... who have no motivation.... who shy away from anything that even resembles a challenge................... while the teachers are pressured to have high expectations, to have RIGOR in their lessons, to challenge the students.

    Blah. Plagiarism is reality. Some do it accidentally; some do it on purpose. Others don't know what it is even if you tell them, show them, and help them overcome it. They still end up in one of the other two categories.

    I have never read the Posner book. I am excellent at catching plagiarism, because anything resembling coherent writing was not completed by my students. Nothing in teaching has met my expectations. My school does not have a plagiarism policy that I know of. If they did, it would be my fault if a student plagiarized, because I obviously didn't teach it.

    I want to stress that I still like my job and care about my students, but this is my reality.
     
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  4. Jacen McCullough

    Jacen McCullough Member

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    I was getting a little worried up until this line. I thought you were approaching the burnout threshold for a minute there, Iceblink! Bad week? I don't know how teachers these days put up with it. I loved teaching, but I got fed up very quickly with the bull*#&! and left for academia after just four years.
     


  5. Iceblink

    Iceblink Member

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    Well, I was a career switcher, so I know what it's like to work in the corporate sector, and it's much less meaningful. So I still generally like being a teacher, but we really are churning out some kids that will be the future retail clerks and stock boys of the world. They don't even see it. They're planning on being doctors and lawyers. I tell them that they could become doctors and lawyers, but they have to make some very serious choices and changes to ever achieve anything.

    But most want to be in the NBA or entertainers. "Oh... the NBA. So are you on our school's basketball team? No? Oh. ok. You're not going to college?"

    It's a terrible time to be a teacher. Look at the things happening in my district. A union busting mayor... a CEO who is the mayor's yes man... a bunch of greedy corporations looking to make a buck in education.

    The skill levels of my students have dropped so much in the last few years. They're coming in knowing less and less. I have a student with a documented third grade reading level in a ninth grade class. If I get him to a fifth grade level, it's a miracle. But it'll never be enough.

    I'm supposed to increase the rigor and have high expectations for students who run from any challenge.

    The crazy thing is that somehow they think that "turning around" schools will help. Somehow they think that firing all the teachers and hiring new ones to teach the same students will improve everything. But they can't figure out that somehow, no matter how great a teacher is, if he or she enters into a certain type of school, that teacher doesn't instantaneously become a bad one.

    You could take the teachers from the greatest schools in America, put them in my school, and they'll fail. The precious scores won't improve, because (while I admit I've seen some pretty awful teachers in my career) the problem isn't really with the teachers.

    I've helped to raise scores quite a bit over the ages... but half of what we're told to teach is how to get around reading passages -- how to answer questions without really reading... how to skim... how to guess. The bad thing is that it works... a little. We can get scores from a 14.8 to a 15. I've done better than that most of the time, but that's about the rate over the course of a single year with freshmen.

    I'm just frustrated that so many people think we've got it easy and we're bad at our jobs. I'm a great teacher when I'm allowed to be.
     
  6. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

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    My kid's college papers can't be faked via Wiki. The prompts are narrow and specific, and are based on particular readings. Now that I think of it, the assignments likely have been created with Wiki in mind.
     
  7. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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    For the most part. Of course, students can still pay people to write their papers for them. A few years ago I got two identical papers on the same topic. First offense for one kid, third and final for the other. The latter didn't want to be in college at all, so he didn't care. The first kid was offended and indignant. Over the fact that the person who was helping him to cheat could be so dishonest. Is there no honor in this world?
     
  8. El_tri321mex

    El_tri321mex Member

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    Hah I remember getting caught in the school's library copy and pasting into microsoft word and the school librarian took me right to the professor like a nerd .
     
  9. Dead Fingers

    Dead Fingers Moderator Staff Member

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    As a librarian who specifically works with Grad Ed students, I find similar behavior. This includes the whole spectrum of their searching. Not all, but quite a few have a hard time even generating keywords from their research questions let alone understanding synonyms or...Zeus forbid, actually use the controlled vocabulary/subject headings. So, in some of my classes we discuss information, i.e., getting them to think about the information cycle and deciding what type of information they will need, whether from books, articles, news sites, blogs, etc... We also discuss the limitations of the web and the costs of information.

    We will discuss scholarly/peer review vs. popular as a guideline, but then I will actually give them my own personal philosophy on the matter, that peer review has its own biases and can be driven by profit (See Elsevier) and sometimes blogs on current topics can lead them to better information than a journal that could be a year or two behind. Obviously we discuss authority and what makes it.

    As for assignments, most of the instructors are great and will get me in there right around point of need, not too far before and not after. By the time a student finishes her degree here, they will have had at least 2-4 sessions with the librarian, two of these specifically in their capstone (masters project) classes.
     
  10. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

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    How things have changed: My son finished his first year of college, wrote a ton of papers, and I don't believe that he ever entered the library. Mostly he was supposed to be writing from close readings and/or ideas discussed in class, and when he did want to do outside research the Net got the job done.
     
  11. Dead Fingers

    Dead Fingers Moderator Staff Member

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    A few things with that. The good thing, is yes!, students will be able to do more online w/o having to step into a library. I have been helping one of online students in Beijing with her resources and research. I can talk to her using conferencing software, showing her where to go and how to do things. That, is awesome power. In terms of pushing access and technology most academic and big public libraries are always on the cutting edge.

    The problem with ONLY looking at the surface/free web is that there is a good chance that student will not even come across standard professional journals of a specific field....let alone the professional databases. Second, we are seeing the rise of "good enough", not necessarily the best stuff. One of the first thing I ask students about their web searching habits is 'how many of them actually go past the third page of results". They all laugh because most of them do not. They don't realize that the free web is like looking at an iceberg, where the free access is about 10-20% of the information available to them. Ok, that's fine. Most college assignments these days, unless at the upper levels doesn't need ALL of that. I see undergrad assignments or beginning grad classes need only 5-10 resources.

    Most academic libraries are now pushing 'information literacy' and embedding themselves into classes and university class plans. Over the last few years we have been pre and post testing students on their information skills and overall they do well, with some issues. Their advanced searching skills are lacking...stuff like adding an 'and', 'or' to their search terms, or again how to narrow or broaden a search. One hing that is striking is the lack of knowledge in recognizing the difference between a book and article citation.
     
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  12. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    1 - No, but it sounds strange.
    2 - We were taught about it in high school and again in j-school. Once it was explained to me, it just never occurred to me to use someone else's words.
    3 - Luckily, I've not had to yet because the place I teach has a zero tolerance policy. You plagiarize, you're out. No appeal. You're done.
    4 - It would be more than annoying, it would be disappointing, frustrating and angering.
    5 - Well, it's been 0%, so you can't do better than that.
    6 - Absolutely. 100%.
    7 - No. I'd want to be really, really sure before I brought such an accusation, and if I had solid proof, I wouldn't have to worry about having it overruled. I am confident the powers that be where I teach take it very seriously.
     
  13. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

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    Dead fingers: fascinating! It's quite interesting to get a librarian's perspective on this issue, and I now see how librarians have been doing the things you mention in the age of the innernets.
     
  14. Dead Fingers

    Dead Fingers Moderator Staff Member

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    And we (librarians/teachers/faculty/writing center) need to to collaborate better. We get all variety of faculty: ones who think their students already 'know' all this stuff, others who are 'rah, rah' with the library, but treat library sessions as a day off for themselves and do not assist or engage in the library session....and then those who get it.

    I, myself have been on a big soul searching kick lately of how good of instructor I am. I can do this stuff in my sleep, but how affective am I? I get very little feedback from my directors. I just happen to be lucky that I work with ...teachers.

    One of the things I get angry about with my degree, is that no one discussed instruction/classroom management/learning styles/assessment/etc.... I was thrown into the deep end and have over the last 13+ years figured out some of the things that work and some that do not. In the last couple of years I have really gone on an active learning kick. I don't want to teach students how to use a database, as one, that database interface will change in time and a video tutorial can do that as well. Second, they get bored really quickly. AND I GET BORED

    I want them to understand the information cycle, recognizing the different types of resources, what constitutes research and what makes analysis. I want them to improve their mental vocabulary and understand the costs of information. They need to recognize that not everything is free on the internet, let alone indexed. ...and oh, research takes time and reflection. That last one is the one that kills me.

    Sorry, just pouring things out of my head at the moment. Much more than you probably want to hear. I think at my university we do an uneven job across the spectrum, but it is getting better. Not only is 'information literacy' being recognized as (and going to be a) university standard, but we have been working with faculty the last few years in getting this integrated into their programs.

    On an individual level, I work pretty closely with my faculty in making sure the sessions are at a time when they are focused on a particular project. Even better, with some of my classes, I get to come in more than once, which allows me not to overload them with stuff and get them to practice and reflect a bit more.
     
  15. soccernutter

    soccernutter Moderator Staff Member

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    1 - No, but I agree it be classified as steeling. Further, it amazes me that students will pay to get a paper. Why pay to risk somebody else screwing you over?
    2 - I was taught about plagiarism in jr. high, high school, undergrad and grad school. In grad school, we had a class on assessments (value/different kinds, etc.) and on and off we addressed plagiarism the entire term.
    3 - Fairly good, I think. I know there are programs, but I often will type in word strings/sentences into google and that usually catches the offender. That said, I also tell the students at the start that if they cheat, don't get caught. The idea is that those who really want cheat will be creative, and have to learn something in the process. On a couple of occasions, I caught students "plagiarising," but they got their work from some published article and tied it in with the rest of thie work. Hard to explain, but it was obvious they had read what they plagiarized so I told them not to do it again and let it go.
    4 - Depends. When being uncreative like using wiki or yahoo, then stupid. But when using better sources, not as much.
    5 - About the same as I expected, since I tell them what to expect up front.
    6 - Yes. And I tell my class that as well. It is about critical thinking.
    7 - Nope. I ususaly like to keep things in-house unless it is physical.

    As for grad school, we started with 10 sources because some of us needed to learn APA, but unless we are writing a short paper (2-3 pages), rarely is less than 5 sources accepted. I know that my capstone (in process) has 25+ sources, and I'm about 60% done. Some of my classmates have only 15 (mimium requirement). I expect another 10 sources, and can't understand how some have only 15.
     
  16. StiltonFC

    StiltonFC Viking Pineapple Presents

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    Earlier this school year, I did a 2 week substitute job at a California Distinguished School. The 5 classes ( 170 students ) read (?) and watched the DVD of Death of a Salesman. They received on the Friday prior to my two week stint a handout giving 4 possible essay topics. There were 4 plagiarized papers. This is not a high number, but it's indicative of how kids view writing assignments. I spoke to all 4 of them, and they thought because I was a sub, they were more likely to get away with it.

    BTW, most of the "good" submissions were in the 80-85% range as far as grading is concerned. I gave one kid 100% after 10 minutes googling excerpts from his essay because it was so good.

    The consequence for this kind of cheating at that school is failing the assignment and a whole grade deduction for the semester grade.
     
  17. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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    This sounds like a great idea: Ten points for each minute spent googling. If you can find 10 minutes worth of material that's good enough to check, 100%. If you find 8 and a half minutes, 85%. If you find a match for WHAT you're googling, F and all the ensuing extra penalties.
     
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  18. StiltonFC

    StiltonFC Viking Pineapple Presents

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    every kid got at least a C if they turned in an essay. some of the papers were probably not worth that much credit, but they weren't dismal to read.

    i really thought the 100% paper was plagiarized. the kid had a low C prior to that assignment. he got a 92% on the test. he was a graduating senior, so anything passing was fine with him.

    i wouldn't want to spend 10 minutes on every paper. that's 1700 minutes. almost 30 hours. not likely.
     
  19. Skippysasquirrel

    Skippysasquirrel Member+

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    1. Nope, but I am familiar with Posner, but I am familiar (somewhat in passing) with his work. I don't always agree with him, but I think he's generally just fantastic.
    2. Not much... I'm not sure if I knew the meaning of the word in high school (maybe superficially), but in college my professors assumed as much and weren't too strict. In grad school and law school it has been a different story.

    I've had limited experience as an instructor, but I'll give it a whirl:
    3. Not good, but luckily there is software now :)
    4. Absolutely, but I force myself to remember that first someone has to teach them not to do it.
    5. Meh, similar.
    6. Yes, although I think it should function on a more case by case basis, as coincidences do happen (mind you, not when 75% of a paper can be found elsewhere...)
    7. Nope!
     

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