Plagiarism and other diseases

January 4, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Plagiarism, Teaching English | 10 Comments

I’ve eventually started reading and marking film reviews – and after four only, I already have sufficient material to make my point about microplagiarism. How nice – and how exasperating 😦

Outside it’s still looking dim and unlikely to change over the next days. Still no snow below 1300 meters.If we had some snow, at least the light would be brighter. Cannot wait to get out of this fog hole. Normally, in the early days of January, the Fön wind comes up to chase away the snow and clouds for a couple of days. But what if there’s never been any? Hard to say.

And I feel a cold coming up. I need something to cheer me up today.

Will Cute Overload be able to do the trick?


Nah, I don’t like canines anyway. Ugly mug.


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. mein gott, du bloggst aber fleißig, these days. haste statistik-blut geleckt (“fastest growing blog”)? suchst du ruhm und ehre? oder flüchtest du so aus der grauen vorarlbergwelt? halt durch! lg ingo

  2. 🙂 Na, ick hatte mir vorgenommen, jeden Tag ein Blogpost zu vefassen. Ist tatsächlich gar nicht so schwer, auch wenn das SIgnal to Noise Ratio dann was runtergeht. Is sicher was anders wenn man eh schon bei der Maloche mit nix anderem beschäftigt ist. Frohes Neues! Bin schon wieder krank, obwohl ich mir doch die tolle Grippespritze hab geben lassen.

  3. re: Plagiarism, I think I told you in the summer that I had applied to become a researcher for ‘UKEssays’ (aka ‘Academic Knowledge’). They claim that they only write essays as ‘examples’ for students’ own research. What does in fact happen however is that they send out emails to every ‘researcher’ with real essay questions, word count and other requirements included, which researchers then compose according to the exact spec.

    Of course, it’s ‘up to the student’ how they are going to use these essays. Since students have to pay for these ‘example essays’ (I would guess anything between £100 and £500, depending on scope – they also offer to write ‘example dissertations’ and I believe even PhDs), my wild guess is that a considerable percentage will submit the essay as their own. I think ‘researchers’ have no copyright to whatever they produce.

    It’s not exactly plagiarism but it’s still dodgy. I wonder whether it’s possible to tell whether a student has composed it his or herself or simply bought it off the Internet. Difficult to prove, though if the student is generally bright and active in seminars and produces a first class essay, this is easier to believe than one that is absent a lot and generally disinterested and also produces first class work.

    Some students try masking their plagiarism by only copying one or two really good paragraphs (word for word) and then write in their own words around the really good paragraphs. Easy to tell though – one very good spot-on paragraph, highly academic, followed by some journalistic style rubbish with personal opinions thrown in 😛

  4. It’s absolutely dodgy, and if it’s not plagiarism, then it is encouragement to plagiarise. But there’s nothing you can do – I can recall one student of the past who I thought was as sumb as a doorknob. Missed alled the submission dates for assignments but then submitted one fabulous assignment in the end… couldn’t find a trace of it on the net, and I am fairly good at retrieving the original source… I gave her zeros for all missing assignments and and A minus 10% (because it was late) for the final assignment and she passed… nothing you can do if you do not have a proof.

    The kind of plagiarism you’ve mentioned is the one that I am dealing with most of the time. But I can spot it right away – and I truly wonder whether students believe that there’s a way they can mask it properly. Next question is why they do resort to plagiarism at all rather than to referencing the copied passage properly – that would’ve been 100% correct.

    I suppose it just doesn’t come to their mind, although it’s covered in on of their introduction to academic writing (Einführung ins wissenschaftliche Arbeiten).

  5. Btw, researchers (authors in general) do always hold the copyright, unless they sell it – that would be subject of the terms of agreement.

  6. note my language fuck-up: ‘his or herself’ – of course it should be _him_ or herself. ‘His-or herself’ is kind of informal use often found on council estates but it’s still incorrect. It’s annoying that one can’t edit one’s own comments on other blogs, isn’t it 😛

    /me submits and hopes that this time no errors have crept in.

  7. I know, it’s absolutely annoying;-) Just left another mess-up on your page, too

  8. As a language teacher of sorts, perhaps, a better description, a language learner, I have no problems with micro-plagiarisms, as, how can you learn a language if not by imitation? And there is a difference between full-scale plagiarism and copying idioms. phrases or sentence structure. It is different, however, when grading content and ideas, which need to be referenced. Well, that was my paltry tuppence worth regarding language teaching, and my first blog comment ever 🙂

  9. übrigens, gerade einen beitrag über das plagiatproblem im hr gesehen; immer mehr unis verwenden diese software hier:

  10. @Colin:

    yes, I agree, I’ve touched upon that earlier in the blog – if one were all too strict about plagiarism, then any more complex vocabulary item would have to be considered plagiarism. That’s apparently not the notion of plagiarism I’d like to advocate.

    But as soon as the copied item goes beyond what can be found in dictionaries, i.e. as soon as “non-look-up-able” content is concerned, i.e. content whose copyright is not communely owned by the speakers and learners of a language (because who owns ae language if not the speakers and learners),as soon as original (not in the sense of ‘unique, but in the sense of: having an origin) ideas are concerned, we are actually beginning to tread upon the scorched earth of stolen content.

    The examples I had in mind where clearcut examples of plagiarism – instead of providing their own plot summaries, students had copied them word for word from pages like – in an otherwise nicely written, original film review. But their motivation probably was similar to the one of the language learner who borrows from song lyrics when chatting up someone in a bar: If somebody else has already put what I want to say under words perfectly, then why bother rewriting it? Which draws our attention to the CONTEXT in which content is borrowed/copied/stolen: It’s fine to recite a plot summary at a dinner table, but it’s not ok in an academic paper. Easy as pie.

    @Johnny Malmedy:

    Software bekannt, wurde immer mal wieder zu Anschaffung diskutiert, aber das Ganze schläft immer wieder ein. Da es noch immer keine verbindliche Einigung darüber gibt, wo Plagiat anfängt und wie es geahndet werden soll, wäre die Ausgabe derzeit auch in den Win geblasen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: