Search Results for "plagiarism"

Aug 02 2010

College kids and their plagiarism (or college professors and their quaint insistence on proper citation of sources).

Today, The New York Times has an article about students and plagiarism that I could have sworn I've read at least a dozen times before, at least in its general gist.

As an exercise, before you click through to read the article, grab some paper and a pencil and jot down two or three reasons you think will be offered that the current generation of college students does not grasp the wrongness of using the words and ideas of others without attribution.

Is your list ready?
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31 responses so far

Apr 27 2010

From the annals of plagiarism: with friends like these ...

As we creep toward the end of the spring semester, I noticed a story at Inside Higher Ed about a commencement address gone wrong:

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12 responses so far

Mar 31 2010

Preventing Plagiarism.
Especially in student papers, plagiarism is an issue that it seems just won't go away. However, instructors cannot just give up and permit plagiarism without giving up most of their pedagogical goals and ideals. As tempting a behavior as this may be (at least to some students, if not to all), it is our duty to smack it down.
Is there any effective way to deliver a preemptive smackdown to student plagiarists? That's the question posed by a piece of research, "Is There an Effective Approach to Deterring Students from Plagiarizing?" by Lidija Bilic-Zulle, Josip Azman, Vedran Frkovic, and Mladen Petrovecki, published in 2008 in Science and Engineering Ethics.
To introduce their research, the authors write:

Academic plagiarism is a complex issue, which arises from ignorance, opportunity, technology, ethical values, competition, and lack of clear rules and consequences. ... The cultural characteristics of academic setting strongly influence students' behavior. In societies where plagiarism is implicitly or even explicitly tolerated (e.g. authoritarian regimes and post-communist countries), a high rate of plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty and scientific misconduct may be expected. However, even in societies that officially disapprove of such behavior (e.g. western democracies), its prevalence is disturbing. (140)

Here, there is some suggestion of potentially relevant cultural factors that may make plagiarism attractive -- and not the cultural factors I tend to hear about here in California, on the Pacific Rim. But maybe we can extend Tolstoy's observation about how each unhappy marriage is unhappy in its own way to recognize the variety of cultural contexts that spawn dishonest students.
And this is not just a matter of the interactions between students and teachers. Bilic-Zulle et al. point to plagiarism in school as something like a gateway drug for unethical behavior in one's professional life -- so potentially, reducing academic dishonesty could have important consequences beyond saving professors headaches.
In any case, the big question the researchers take on is how to reduce the prevalence. Is it effective to emphasize the importance of academic integrity, or to threaten harsh penalties if plagiarism is detected?

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14 responses so far

Jul 08 2009

Newspaper's editor exposes intern's plagiarism.

The Colorado Springs Gazette discovered that a summer intern in their newsroom published articles with plagiarized passages. The editor of the paper, Jeff Thomas, deemed this plagiarism a breach of the paper's trust with the public:

[R]eporter Hailey Mac Arthur, a college student doing a summer internship in our newsroom, has been dismissed from The Gazette. The Gazette forbids plagiarism, which is the act of employing the creative work of someone else and passing it off as your own. None of the four Gazette articles attributed borrowed material to the [New York] Times, as is required when quoting the work of some other publication.
Here are selected excerpts from the four Gazette stories, paired with links to the Times news stories from which material was inappropriately borrowed. ...

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9 responses so far

Oct 09 2006

Cultural differences of opinion about plagiarism.

In a post months and months ago, I wrote the following*:

I've heard vague claims that there are some cultures in which "plagiarism" as defined by U.S. standards is not viewed as an ethical breach at all, and that this may explain some instances of plagiarism among scientists and science students working in the U.S. after receiving their foundational educational experiences in such cultures. To my readers oversees: Is there any truth to these claims? (I'm suspicious, at least in part because of an incident I know of at my school where a student from country X, caught plagiarising, asserted, "But, in country X, where I'm from, this is how everyone does it. Sorry, I didn't know the norms were different here." Unfortunately for this student, the Dean was also from country X and was able to say, with authority, "'Fraid not.")

Since then, I've found some slightly-less-vague claims from the pages of Chemical & Engineering News. However, these are still almost second-hand, "word on the street" kind of claims that some cultures involved in the practice of science think plagiarism is just fine. Have a look at the relevant passage:

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13 responses so far

Aug 13 2006

Advice: "Am I enabling plagiarism?"

From time to time I get emails asking for advice dealing with situations that just don't feel right. Recently, I've been asked about the following sort of situation:
You're an undergraduate who has landed an internship in a lab that does research in the field you're hoping to pursue in graduate school. As so often happens in these situations, you're assigned to assist an advanced graduate student who is gearing up to write a dissertation. First assignment: hit the library and write a literature review of the relevant background literature for the research project. You find articles. You read. You summarize and evaluate and analyze, over the course of many pages.
What you write is good. Not only is it praised, but it is incorporated -- in some cases, word for word -- into the chapter the grad student is writing.
Uh oh.
You know (because you have been told) that just doing this kind of literature review wouldn't be enough to make you an author of any published paper that comes from this research, but your gut tells you there's something not quite right about the situation. And, another researcher in the lab is taken aback to learn that what you have written is being used this way. In fact, the graduate student's supervisor makes it clear that your words can't be used verbatim in the thesis or any manuscripts to be submitted for publication; the wording will have to be reworked.
Are you enabling misconduct? Are you being taken advantage of? And, given that you're being asked to do some more literature reviews, what do you do now?

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Jul 19 2006

Dealing with plagiarism once the horse is out of the barn.

Not quite a year ago, I wrote a pair of posts about allegations of widespread plagiarism in the engineering college at Ohio University. The allegations were brought by Thomas Matrka, who, while a student in the masters program in mechanical engineering at OU, was appalled to find obvious instances of plagiarism in a number of masters theses sitting on the library shelves -- paragraphs, drawings, sometimes whole chapters that were nearly identical, with no attribution at all to indicate a common source.
Pretty appalling stuff. But back in November 2005, the OU administration didn't seem to see it as a big problem -- at least, not as of problem of the magnitude Mr. Matrka saw. But Mr. Matrka's efforts have finally had some effects. Chickens are coming home to roost not only for the students who plagiarized in their theses, but for the faculty members who seemed willing to let this conduct slide.

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May 11 2006

Plagiarism and Podcasts.

Do you ever feel like hearing me rattle on instead of just reading it? Here's your chance!
You can listen to the first episode of the ScienceBlogs podcast, in which I speak with Katherine Sharpe about the evils of plagiarism (among other misdeeds) in the world of science.

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Apr 27 2006

Authorship and plagiarism: an object lesson.

Published by under Ethics 101

Even though it's outside the realm of science, given its relevance to recent discussions here, I just can't leave this story alone:
Via Nanopolitan, the latest on the sad case of Harvard sophomore and author(?) Kaavya Viswanathan, whose situation keeps unravelling. Viswanathan got herself a book contract while still a high school student, and then wrote (maybe) the young adult novel How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. Recently, it has come to light that dozens of passages in that novel bear an uncanny resemblance to passages in two novels by Megan McCafferty. Some seem to have been lifted word for word, while others seem to have modified just enough not to be immediately detectable with Google.
In the business, we're accustomed to calling this plagiarism. The only complication here is whether Viswanathan is the one who committed the plagiarism here.

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Mar 27 2006

Plagiarism is bad.

Published by under Ethics 101

My students know that plagiarism is bad. You'd think a major wire service would know it, too.
But it would seem that maybe the Associated Press doesn't know that failing to properly cite sources is plagiarism. Or perhaps the AP does know, but doesn't care. When your business is built on the premise that you are a reliable source of information, it seems to me that this is a very bad strategy.

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