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Author Topic: Plagiarism Chronicles  (Read 462711 times)
stanwyck
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« Reply #1500 on: May 03, 2012, 2:38:12 PM »

I wish I had only ONE plagiarist. I'm about to fail 13 students. Setting aside my feelings about the cheating, I'm completely pissed off about the time it's taken to fully document their behavior. Create 13 files, print out 13 original sources, highlight the duplicate passages, write up the evidence, blah blah blah. Because I had tons of free time this week. Just tons.


Holy Carp! 13!
Good on you for following through.

And your TA should be booted.  I used to have to get lab papers to a prof in time for a 9 a.m. course and students were allowed to drop off their work until 10 pm THE NIGHT BEFORE.

Yeah...I already gave the TA a talking-to. As soon as I make it through this plagiarism mess, I'm going to chase down the person in charge and have a chat about it. I'm still banging my head against the desk in the other thread (for those keeping track, Australia1, Germany1, and Finland have all filed grade appeals), and that's taking up much of my time and energy right now.

Meanwhile, in the world of 13 plagiarists...

Student comes into my office, indicates he wants to talk about his essay grade. I flip through his essay. The first three pages have several sentences highlighted to flag the plagiarism, my notes on the margin indicate the original source. Ah. I remember this paper. I turn to the fourth page. The last two paragraphs are highlighted in full.

Me: Setting aside everything else I've noted in your essay, these two paragraphs alone are enough of a problem to warrant a failing grade. When you copied-and-pasted them from the original source, you didn't change the spacing or font to match the rest of the paper. Nor did you change any words. Nor did you cite a source.

Student: Oh, yeah, I know I cheated. That's not what I wanted to talk to you about.

Me: ??

Student: I turned my paper in late and you took off three grades.

Me: As the syllabus explains, I deduct a full grade for every day late.

Student: But it was due on Friday and I turned it in on Monday.

Me: Yeaahhh...three days.

Student: You count weekends? Most professors don't count weekends.

Me: I'm not 'most professors.' I think the syllabus makes the policy clear and if it didn't, well, it's your responsibility to ask for clarification if you decide to turn in a late paper.

Student: That's not fair.

Me: You do understand that you earned a 'zero' on the essay because of plagiarism?

Student: Yeah, but I don't see why you counted three whole days.

Me: (to myself) You've got to be f***ing kidding me.

Me: (out loud) This conversation is over.
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dr_alcott
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« Reply #1501 on: May 03, 2012, 3:25:23 PM »

Yeesh, Stanwyck. At least your plagiarist conceded to the plagiarism. The one I vented about on the Teaching Despair thread--the one who thinks that HIV positive people don't deserve the same privacy rights as the rest of us--didn't seem to think her plagiarism was actually plagiarism because she cited a source. Never mind that she had line after line of quoted material that she failed to enclose in quotation marks. I'm just wrong about that. Silly, picky me.

She also didn't believe me when I told her several other things about her paper. And she definitely didn't believe me when I told her that it's mathematically impossible to pass my class.

I'm just full of bulls*** today, I guess.
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snowbound
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« Reply #1502 on: May 03, 2012, 3:34:27 PM »


When you copied-and-pasted them from the original source, you didn't change the spacing or font to match the rest of the paper. Nor did you change any words.

[/quote

??  Disguising the plagiarism would have made the plagiarism less serious?  Here's how to plagiarize more successfully next time?  ??
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stanwyck
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« Reply #1503 on: May 03, 2012, 4:22:05 PM »

When you copied-and-pasted them from the original source, you didn't change the spacing or font to match the rest of the paper. Nor did you change any words.

??  Disguising the plagiarism would have made the plagiarism less serious?  Here's how to plagiarize more successfully next time?  ??

No, that's not even close to what I meant, and I'm surprised that you interpreted my post as such. The point: I didn't really have to read the paper to know there was a problem, as the formatting instantly caught my eye when I was checking to make sure the bibliography was attached to the essay. Did I not make it clear in my last post that I also highlighted and documented the plagiarism in the first three pages of the paper?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 4:22:50 PM by stanwyck » Logged
tinyzombie
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elevate from this point on - chuck d


« Reply #1504 on: May 03, 2012, 4:38:06 PM »

When you copied-and-pasted them from the original source, you didn't change the spacing or font to match the rest of the paper. Nor did you change any words.

??  Disguising the plagiarism would have made the plagiarism less serious?  Here's how to plagiarize more successfully next time?  ??

No, that's not even close to what I meant, and I'm surprised that you interpreted my post as such. The point: I didn't really have to read the paper to know there was a problem, as the formatting instantly caught my eye when I was checking to make sure the bibliography was attached to the essay. Did I not make it clear in my last post that I also highlighted and documented the plagiarism in the first three pages of the paper?

That idiot can't even plagiarize correctly!

Stanwyck, my sympathy.
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usukprof
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« Reply #1505 on: May 03, 2012, 4:43:49 PM »

:-O
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stanwyck
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« Reply #1506 on: May 04, 2012, 4:00:39 PM »

I promise this is my last post on this topic, but I have to ask: WTF are my students thinking?

It would appear that one of the accused has complained that I'm not following the "if you cheat" policy outlined in the syllabus. True enough. I'm not giving him a failing grade for the course (which is what I said I would do), only for this current assignment. I could understand if one of the students who hadn't cheated was demanding that I hold the plagiarists more accountable (well, even then, I'd say, "Hey, worry about your own grade."). But why would one of the plagiarists want me to follow the original policy?
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #1507 on: May 04, 2012, 4:10:26 PM »

But why would one of the plagiarists want me to follow the original policy?

In some cases, an F can be repeated with minor consequences while a person is stuck with a D or C.

I've seen cases where a C- or D+ is the worst outcome since the student needs a C or better to continue and isn't allowed to repeat courses in which a grade other than F is earned.
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stanwyck
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« Reply #1508 on: May 04, 2012, 4:22:15 PM »

But why would one of the plagiarists want me to follow the original policy?

In some cases, an F can be repeated with minor consequences while a person is stuck with a D or C.

I've seen cases where a C- or D+ is the worst outcome since the student needs a C or better to continue and isn't allowed to repeat courses in which a grade other than F is earned.

Sorry, guess that wasn't my last post.

I thought about that, but at this institution, students who fail a class (or earn a lower grade) because of academic dishonesty issues are not allowed to repeat it. I'm not entirely sure what happens if the class is required for the major, but in this case, there's no possibility of re-taking the course for a higher grade. I know this was explained to the student, too, so...still not sure how he could benefit from the original policy.
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polly_mer
practice makes perfect
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #1509 on: May 04, 2012, 4:33:43 PM »

But why would one of the plagiarists want me to follow the original policy?

In some cases, an F can be repeated with minor consequences while a person is stuck with a D or C.

I've seen cases where a C- or D+ is the worst outcome since the student needs a C or better to continue and isn't allowed to repeat courses in which a grade other than F is earned.

Sorry, guess that wasn't my last post.

I thought about that, but at this institution, students who fail a class (or earn a lower grade) because of academic dishonesty issues are not allowed to repeat it. I'm not entirely sure what happens if the class is required for the major, but in this case, there's no possibility of re-taking the course for a higher grade. I know this was explained to the student, too, so...still not sure how he could benefit from the original policy.

Huh.  I'm stumped as well if that's the case.  Does the student think he has a shot at a grade appeal with a failure, but not with a non-failure?  I know around here people would laugh at trying to appeal a passing grade that included academic dishonesty.  However, students don't think through the fact that faculty will laugh at someone trying to appeal a failure for academic dishonesty as well.
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usukprof
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.


« Reply #1510 on: May 04, 2012, 4:36:24 PM »

But why would one of the plagiarists want me to follow the original policy?

In some cases, an F can be repeated with minor consequences while a person is stuck with a D or C.

I've seen cases where a C- or D+ is the worst outcome since the student needs a C or better to continue and isn't allowed to repeat courses in which a grade other than F is earned.

Sorry, guess that wasn't my last post.

I thought about that, but at this institution, students who fail a class (or earn a lower grade) because of academic dishonesty issues are not allowed to repeat it. I'm not entirely sure what happens if the class is required for the major, but in this case, there's no possibility of re-taking the course for a higher grade. I know this was explained to the student, too, so...still not sure how he could benefit from the original policy.

Huh.  I'm stumped as well if that's the case.  Does the student think he has a shot at a grade appeal with a failure, but not with a non-failure?  I know around here people would laugh at trying to appeal a passing grade that included academic dishonesty.  However, students don't think through the fact that faculty will laugh at someone trying to appeal a failure for academic dishonesty as well.

Fixed that for you.
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polly_mer
practice makes perfect
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #1511 on: May 06, 2012, 12:49:34 PM »

On the plus side, after most of a stack of papers, I have only encountered one probable case of plagiarism.

On the minus side, I can't find the originals from which the student plagiarized so I'm going to have to apply pressure during a face-to-face meeting and wait for the student to admit guilt.

While I can believe that this particular student could write a grammatically correct paper that is logically organized for a solid B, I'm pretty suspicious about a paper that is an A+ paper that contains a few in-text citations that don't appear in the final list and the only search engine hits I can get on similar titles/year combos are for classes.
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usukprof
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« Reply #1512 on: May 06, 2012, 12:55:12 PM »

I once had a student that heavily plagiarised the term paper for a graduate networking course.  He used math that was way beyond my comfort level, and in this case it was easy to determine the original source.  I hauled him in and asked if I should ask him to explain the difference between the two algorithms compared in the paper, and he immediately admitted that he'd copied the material he didn't understand, without me needed to pull up the side-by-side comparisons.

I'd think this sort of tactic might work from what you described.
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Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.  --Dean Vernon Wormer
frogfactory
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« Reply #1513 on: May 06, 2012, 1:19:11 PM »

On the plus side, after most of a stack of papers, I have only encountered one probable case of plagiarism.

On the minus side, I can't find the originals from which the student plagiarized so I'm going to have to apply pressure during a face-to-face meeting and wait for the student to admit guilt.

While I can believe that this particular student could write a grammatically correct paper that is logically organized for a solid B, I'm pretty suspicious about a paper that is an A+ paper that contains a few in-text citations that don't appear in the final list and the only search engine hits I can get on similar titles/year combos are for classes.

It might not be plagiarised.  It might have been bought from one of those "write to order" companies, or written by his/her smarter girlfriend/boyfriend.  If so, it's going to be a tough one to crack.
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history_grrrl
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« Reply #1514 on: May 06, 2012, 2:08:09 PM »

Okay, I'm curious about something.

I have five cases of academic misconduct this term. Two are siblings who colluded massively and also inclued a little  plagiarism for good measure. Two are friends who colluded massively. Number five is the most insidious. He appears to have taken huge chunks of text from other sources (including an essay-mill paper and material he read in class) and then painstaking changed every meaningful word (basically anything that isn't a determiner). The paper reads very oddly, because the new words don't quite work with the original context. It boggled my mind to think of the amount of time this must have taken him. (He also lifted material directly from other online sources, including some other professor's online study guide about the book we read. Seriously, people, talking about historical figures from the 18th century in a paper on something in the 20th century is kind of a red flag, especially when you're a business major who has never taken a history course before.)

But then it dawned on me: I just can't believe this kid took the time to change hundreds of words by hand. There must be some kind of software program students can buy that will run material through a thesaurus and change the meaningful words. Has anyone come across such a thing?
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