Monday, April 07, 2008

Plagiarize with pride: my work, with a little help?

April 2008 marks the fourth anniversary of the "Plagiarize with Pride" article in the Harvard Business Review. Also, in April 2008, InsideHigherEd discussed the followed approach to plagiarism of Kate Hagopian, an instructor in the first-year writing program at North Carolina State University [NC State}:

For one assignment, she gives her students a short writing passage and then a prompt for a standard student short essay. She asks her students to turn in two versions. In one they are told that they must plagiarize. In the second, they are told not to.

The article had an unfavorable reference to turnitin and the like:

But by and large, the instructors at the meeting said that they didn’t have any confidence that these services were attacking the roots of the problem or finding all of the plagiarism. Several people quipped that if the software really detected all plagiarism, plenty of campuses would be unable to hold classes, what with all of the sessions needed for academic integrity boards.

There were some interesting quotes in the article:

Yet another student argued that term paper mills could promote efficiency without turning one into a plagiarist. This student said that he used term papers obtained online to gain ideas, but that because he then rewrites these ideas himself, it’s not plagiarism. “My work, with a little help,” is how he characterized it.

This prompted an angry outcry from another student, who wrote: “This shit is plagiarism by any definition. If you were caught and turned over to the office of student conduct, your ass would be nailed to the cross.”

IPBiz notes that students do not, as a general rule, make out well in plagiarism inquiries, the case of Glen Poshard of SIU being a notable exception. Professors, like Laurence Tribe, do much better.


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