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Author Topic: Plagiarism Chronicles  (Read 462424 times)
mountainguy
The no longer carbonated
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« Reply #1470 on: May 01, 2012, 1:11:30 PM »

I just met with my plagiarist a few minutes ago. After I explained the charges, her response was "Okay, I guess I did it."

Sigh.
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ex_mo
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Peddler of backroom smut.


« Reply #1471 on: May 01, 2012, 1:25:07 PM »

I just met with my plagiarist a few minutes ago. After I explained the charges, her response was "Okay, I guess I did it."

Sigh.

 It is kind of amazing how they just fold under the evidence. 

Student B just left my office.  His contention is that Student A did not know he had is paper, that he got it from another student who "typed" Student A's paper.  Which adds a whole new wrinkle to this.  He did not give me the typist's name. 

What I'd love to do is retroactively fail Student A's paper, which would result in him failing the required course and make him ineligible for graduation.  But, that is not likely to happen. 

Student B told me that he knew it was the wrong thing to do but that his backpack had been stolen with all of his papers/laptop in it and that he panicked.  I pointed out that I would have perhaps been willing to work out an extension or other accommodation had he asked, but that after this I am not willing to do anything for him except fail him.

Sigh.

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rroscoe1
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« Reply #1472 on: May 01, 2012, 1:42:50 PM »

I define plagiarism quite explicitly and at some lengthy both in my syllabi and the term paper guidelines that I give my students. I also discuss plagiarism on multiple occasions in class. The penalty for plagiarism in my class is a zero on the paper, an F in the course and a misconduct report sent to the administration.

I have only had a few cases of plagiarism within the past year or two. However, this semester I suddenly have several cases on my hands, including one of my advisees and a student that with a B+ in the class. I find these quite distressing. All of these cases are blatant as they involve cutting and pasting whole paragraphs from internet sites. The students all confess that they plagiarized and admitted what they did was wrong. The general explanation is that they waited until the last minute to write the paper and plagiarized because they thought they wouldn't be caught, even though when I explained plagiarism to my classes I told them how easy it is for me to spot it and how quickly I can find papers on google or with turnitin.com.

I'm starting to wonder if I could do something else to educate my students about plagiarism. Does anyone have any suggestions on this issue? I thought that the threat of an F in the course would suffice, and it seemed to have work for some time. But that may not be the case anymore. What else could I do? Have students who plagiarize write a paper on why plagiarism is wrong? I suppose they might plagiarize it as well. My point is that I want students who plagiarize not only to suffer the consequences of their actions i.e. with their grades, but also to learn something from what they did so they will not so again in the future.

Any thoughts? I'm still reeling from several case of plagiarism these last last few days.  
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yellowtractor
Vice-Provost of the University of the South-East Corner of Donkeyshire (formerly Donkeyshire Polytechnic) (a Post-1992 University) and also a
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« Reply #1473 on: May 01, 2012, 2:13:52 PM »

Fortunately I teach at a SLAC that requires incoming freshmen to take an orientation class on plagiarism and even take a test to prove they've mastered the concept.

Roscoe, try showing them the instruments we use to enforce originality of thought.  Make sure you oil them before you show them--they glint so prettily in the lights.
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rroscoe1
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« Reply #1474 on: May 01, 2012, 2:33:14 PM »

Fortunately I teach at a SLAC that requires incoming freshmen to take an orientation class on plagiarism and even take a test to prove they've mastered the concept.

Roscoe, try showing them the instruments we use to enforce originality of thought.  Make sure you oil them before you show them--they glint so prettily in the lights.

I purposely attempt to construct the questions that I pose to students for their papers in such a way as to encourage them to think critically about their assigned readings. I also do so in a manner that makes it difficult to take generic information that one can drudge off the internet from wikipedia and the like and pass it off as an intelligible answer. Even if for some strange reasons I don't catch plagiarism from internet sources, at a minimum the paper will receive a low grade because it will simply not answer the question. When possible and appropriate, I also assign more obscure texts, even if it is a short journal article or short primary source that supplements an assigned text that is more commonly read and hence has information about it on the internet.

But maybe I need to oil my instruments a bit more.
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lowerninthward
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« Reply #1475 on: May 01, 2012, 3:33:29 PM »

I am sure my students still get a few past me, but in general I am emphatic that: A) Their flawed work is better than someone else's great work B) I will never ask them to do an activity that is beyond their abilities for the level that they are working at, sometimes it just feels that way... and C) Often a plagiarized source is well above their own level of understanding of said topic, when asked what "their" writing means, and they truly do not know, they must then answer if it is or is not their work, and the fess up pretty much immediately. The class gets the plagiarism sermon the day after, and of course at the beginning of the term. ~lnw
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snowbound
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« Reply #1476 on: May 01, 2012, 4:42:48 PM »

I define plagiarism quite explicitly and at some lengthy both in my syllabi and the term paper guidelines that I give my students. I also discuss plagiarism on multiple occasions in class. The penalty for plagiarism in my class is a zero on the paper, an F in the course and a misconduct report sent to the administration.

I have only had a few cases of plagiarism within the past year or two. However, this semester I suddenly have several cases on my hands, including one of my advisees and a student that with a B+ in the class. I find these quite distressing. All of these cases are blatant as they involve cutting and pasting whole paragraphs from internet sites. The students all confess that they plagiarized and admitted what they did was wrong. The general explanation is that they waited until the last minute to write the paper and plagiarized because they thought they wouldn't be caught, even though when I explained plagiarism to my classes I told them how easy it is for me to spot it and how quickly I can find papers on google or with turnitin.com.

I'm starting to wonder if I could do something else to educate my students about plagiarism. Does anyone have any suggestions on this issue? I thought that the threat of an F in the course would suffice, and it seemed to have work for some time. But that may not be the case anymore. What else could I do? Have students who plagiarize write a paper on why plagiarism is wrong? I suppose they might plagiarize it as well. My point is that I want students who plagiarize not only to suffer the consequences of their actions i.e. with their grades, but also to learn something from what they did so they will not so again in the future.

Any thoughts? I'm still reeling from several case of plagiarism these last last few days. 

Why do you need to "do something else to educate my students about plagiarism"??  You're already doing that.  The problem is not your failure to sufficiently educate them about the issue; in fact, your success in so doing is attested by the fact that the culprits openly recognize that what they did was plagiarism.  It's not ignorance that's making them plagiarize, it's the usual same-old reason: they "waited until the last minute to write the paper and plagiarized because they thought they wouldn't be caught."   

The appropriate response to students who decide to violate the policy anyway is to exact the appropriate penalty (which you are doing)--not to use precious class time to further belabor the point, to the detriment of the honest students who come to the class to learn.

BTW, good luck in getting your plagiarists to write essays on plagiarism.  Since they're flunking the class and being turned in anyway, why would they?
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snowbound
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« Reply #1477 on: May 01, 2012, 4:45:40 PM »

Fortunately I teach at a SLAC that requires incoming freshmen to take an orientation class on plagiarism and even take a test to prove they've mastered the concept.

Roscoe, try showing them the instruments we use to enforce originality of thought.  Make sure you oil them before you show them--they glint so prettily in the lights.

Yup, most of my plagiarists have definitely mastered the concept!
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dr_alcott
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« Reply #1478 on: May 01, 2012, 4:45:53 PM »

I'm starting to wonder if I could do something else to educate my students about plagiarism. Does anyone have any suggestions on this issue?

Do you accept late papers? In my experience, a decent percentage of plagiarism happens when procrastinators panic. In addition to some of the things already mentioned, several times a semester I remind students of what the penalties are for late work. I remind them that people sometimes make crappy choices when they are stressed out, overwhelmed, and/or fatigued; I remind them of their options when they find themselves in such circumstances; and I remind them that it's better to take a late penalty than to earn a zero and jeopardize their academic career.

On preview, I agree with Snowbound. Our students usually know that plagiarism is wrong. They just have crappy problem-solving skills.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 4:48:20 PM by dr_alcott » Logged

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yellowtractor
Vice-Provost of the University of the South-East Corner of Donkeyshire (formerly Donkeyshire Polytechnic) (a Post-1992 University) and also a
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« Reply #1479 on: May 01, 2012, 4:46:41 PM »

Fortunately I teach at a SLAC that requires incoming freshmen to take an orientation class on plagiarism and even take a test to prove they've mastered the concept.

Roscoe, try showing them the instruments we use to enforce originality of thought.  Make sure you oil them before you show them--they glint so prettily in the lights.

Yup, most of my plagiarists have definitely mastered the concept!

Well, we pull out the course and their electronic signature upon its completion whenever charges of actual plagiarism surface.  This seems to streamline the process.
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snowbound
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« Reply #1480 on: May 01, 2012, 5:09:44 PM »

There was a while a few years ago when plagiarism in my classes sharply diminished.  It was the heyday of Rate My Professors and it turned out several posts in a row complained about how hard I was on poor plagiarists. (Students in several classes told me about it.)  Word got out among the students and  seemed to have a deterrent effect.  Would-be culprits either took another section or behaved when they were in my class.  Sweet!

However, RMP is largely forgotten about now and the posts on plagiarism got superceded anyway.  I'm trying other ways to revive my reputation as a plagiarism harda$$. One thing I sometimes do is, on the first day of class when we're talking about the course in general, I'll make some generally encouraging remarks like, "If you come to every class, do the reading, really think about and discuss the concepts, and turn in all your papers, you'll have a very good chance of passing the class. Usually only about 10% of students flunk my class, and that's mostly just for plagiarism."  There's always jaws that drop open at the the thought of 10% flunking for plagiarism!  It's actually not as many as it sounds.  Maybe 2 plagiarists and 1 or 2 other-reason in a 30-person class, but it sounds like more.
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peppergal
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« Reply #1481 on: May 01, 2012, 5:21:07 PM »

"I have in the past had students expelled from the university for plagiarizing in my class, and I will not hesitate to do it again.  So before you try, consider whether the risk of expulsion is worth it."

Since I started giving that spiel on the first day of class, I have not had a single case of plagiarism (and I do check).
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polly_mer
practice makes perfect
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #1482 on: May 01, 2012, 5:56:15 PM »

Rroscoe1, can you get some students to come talk to your class about their experiences post-plagiarism?  I know that my plagiarism rate drops dramatically once a fairly vocal student gets nailed and starts telling everyone how unfair I am for sending someone to the dean and not allowing submission of the final report for plagiarism on a draft.
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llanfair
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Whither Canada?


« Reply #1483 on: May 01, 2012, 8:09:09 PM »

"I have in the past had students expelled from the university for plagiarizing in my class, and I will not hesitate to do it again.  So before you try, consider whether the risk of expulsion is worth it."

Hmmm ... I wonder if I'd go to hell for [untruthfully] using this line?
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polly_mer
practice makes perfect
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #1484 on: May 01, 2012, 8:16:20 PM »

"I have in the past had students expelled from the university for plagiarizing in my class, and I will not hesitate to do it again.  So before you try, consider whether the risk of expulsion is worth it."

Hmmm ... I wonder if I'd go to hell for [untruthfully] using this line?

I've never used that line, but I have cited the statistics that I am personally responsible for reporting 10% of the plagiarism cases that were found guilty in the past year.  I then explain that penalties for being found guilty range from a zero on an assignment to expulsion from the school.  In the past five years, several people have been expelled for plagiarism.

I simply don't mention that the worst punishment anyone has ever gotten in my course is a report to the dean and a zero on an assignment worth 10% of the course grade.  I allow students to not think carefully about the details of what I said and draw the conclusion that I have reported plagiarists who have been expelled.
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I've joined a bizarre cult called JordanCanonicalForm's Witnesses.  I have to go from door to door asking people things like, "Good evening, sir!  Do you have a moment to chat about Linear Transformations?"
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