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  1. Nov 12, 2004 #1
    "...large chunks of No 10's supposedly authoritative report, "Iraq - its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation" had been lifted word for word from [& without reference to] this PhD thesis by Ibrahim al-Marashi"

    In an age when even world leaders plagiarise without blushing, how seriously should plagiarism be taken in schools and universities?
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  3. Nov 19, 2004 #2
    It should be taken very seriously. One who is stupid enough to steal someone's work logically deserves a mark of 0.
  4. Nov 20, 2004 #3
    This is what I think. However, I get the impression that a lot of students and tutors see it as parking offence rather than grand theft auto. I know of students who have downloaded webpages and thought they could get away with it. Perhaps they can.
  5. Nov 20, 2004 #4


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    This all goes to the reason students are in college. Is it just to get the "union ticket punched", to get a document that you have to have to gt a good job (assuming you can!)? If so, I can see why originality is not of concern and any trick that works is fine.

    But if you are there to get your mind expanded, then it's ridiculous that presenting someone else's work as your own is going to help you.
  6. Nov 20, 2004 #5
    I think plagiarism is serious only when you steal OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK. Not when you use an expression that someone came up with and not reference to whoever wrote it. For example, if I use the word "paradigm" in a paragraph, do I have to reference it? How about gravity? Some plagiarim offences are just amazing and I hate how people use plagiarism to harm others how may have unintentionaly plagiarized. I was told that a college professor got kicked out of the college because he refered to work in a book THAT HE WROTE and didn't reference himself (Not sure if it is true, but I heard it from a reliable source). How rediculous is that? And in my college, a girl got thrown out of the english department for copying three successive words from somewhere without referencing in an English paper.

    "Iraq - its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation"

    If I am writing a paper on Iraq and I use "Iraq's deception and intimidation", do I have to reference that?

    Sometimes, after reading something, a word or a sentence gets stuck in your head and it becomes very easy to use this word/sentence in you work without even knowing it. What if this sentence was one of them?
  7. Nov 20, 2004 #6
    I think it is tough now with all the anti-plagiarism software being implemented to check for cheating, where is the line being drawn. Especially in early years of University you are not doing groundbreaking papers and essentially everything you put in your paper would need to be cited.
    Wehre do you draw the line on citing information. I recently had to write a paper on the health care system's of Canada and the US. Unless my paper focused on personal opinions, the information came from somebody else. I could cite every single sentence in my paper if I was anal about it, but then I would get a significantly horrible mark for contributing nothing to the paper. Student's work is limited to the odd sentence in between citations.

    The software being used also makes it tough because it checks for even similar wording of ideas from other sources. How many different ways can you word the importance of a universal health care system. It obviously isn't your personal idea, but how do you cite it specifically to one source.

    I understand a hard stance being taken against blatant cheating, ie. claiming research as your own, claiming statements to be your own, specifically copying text word for word and then not giving credit, but when it comes down to expecting complete citation of ideas because they are not your own takes things a little extreme.

    There are many people that look to cheat the system, which is really unfortunate, but I think that the majority of students are not specifically looking to cheat on their papers.
  8. Nov 20, 2004 #7
    There is probably a sensible balance between being lax and too strict. I get a sense that plagiarism is taken way more seriously in some places than others.

    'Paradigm' I doubt, unless the essay was about Kuhn or specifically related to the notion of paradigms in some way.

    Sounds harsh, but perhaps he was trying to get paid twice for the same piece of work. Like a journalist selling an 'exclusive' to one newspaper, and then another?

    Hmmm. That would only make sense if the words were "et tu Brutus" or something very distinctive. I have always been told: "When in doubt, ask the tutor who is going to mark the work". (I don't have a reference for this quote. Do I get 0% for this post?)
  9. Nov 21, 2004 #8

    • Another exciting way I use questions from the students is in the PROCESS of the exploration of a NEGOTIATED TOPIC for individual, group or class work. I encourage them to begin with several questions (the number of questions is directly related to the age of the students) specifically related to the topic. An essential part of this process is negotiating the ASSESSMENT process:

      What criteria are we looking for? Who is going to mark the work?
  10. Nov 21, 2004 #9


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    Any serious researcher checks before publishing things that 'sound familiar'. To do otherwise is sloppy and careless. No one gets busted for plagarism by accident. No serious reviewer would make such an accusation without cause. I can tell the difference and I never even took an advanced quantum physics course.
  11. Nov 21, 2004 #10
    Whoever wrote this is guilty of misrepresenting the word 'exciting', and needs to get out more.

    And hitssquad, you have misquoted me as posting "(I don't have a reference for this quote.)", whereas I wrote "(I don't have a reference for this quote. Do I get 0% for this post?)" i.e. you closed the parenthesis too early. You can expect to hear from my doctor about this. And take that arrow out of your head, its distracting the other boys and girls.

    Is there a word for when you give something as a quote, but in fact it is your own words? Plagiar-isn't?
  12. Dec 27, 2004 #11
    In general a stiff stance against plagarism is justified primarily because it forces undergrads to actually research the topics on which they write. Any incidental benefit from pointing out cheating is an additional but not primary gain.
  13. Dec 30, 2004 #12


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    I don't think you can plagiarize yourself. However, you could still get in trouble for copyright violations. In other words, the story might be partially true, but I'd be surprised if the consequences were him being fired.

    John Fogerty had to stop singing the Credence Clearwater Revival songs that he wrote just for this reason (plus pay a substantial sum to his old recording company and ex-bandmembers). Even though he wrote the songs, the band, as a whole, had sold the rights to the songs to the recording company that produced their albums.

    Isaac Asimov had a similar problem with the Foundation Trilogy, which he originally wrote as a series of short stories. But in that case, it was no problem for the new publisher to purchase the rights from the old publisher, since the old publisher had put so little effort into the stories and they weren't yielding any money for the old company. But, Asimov still didn't own the rights to those stories - his new publisher did. He got a considerably better deal on the sequels.

    My favorite plagiarism myth is the one about the professor who gives a student an "A" for a plagiarised paper with the comment "When I originally wrote this paper 20 years ago, my professor only gave me a 'C'. I felt it was long overdue that my paper finally was given the grade it deserved, even if to the wrong student."

    It's doubtful, at best, but the TV show "Welcome Back, Kotter" used a twist on this story when Kotter recognizes that Epstein's paper is a copy of the same one Kotter turned in while in high school. Instead of failing Epstein for plagiarism, he makes Epstein redo the paper, commenting to his wife, ""I said I turned that paper in myself; I never said I wrote it."
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