Monday, January 17, 2011

Innovative ways to plagiarize?

from --CJI report on NLSIU: "exploration and accomplishment" to "diminution and dissatisfaction" -- :

Prof. Shamnad Basheer: The ignominious levels of plagiarism and unethical practices by students are again part of a systemic issue that flows out of intense levels of unhealthy competition and deplorable levels of scrutiny by faculty. Plagiarism is a given for most students who acquire this habit from their seniors. In fact, most of the plagiarised content come out of earlier projects written by senior students. Students have evolved innovative ways of trading in projects/papers not just within their law school, but also between the various law schools. Law schools have to therefore come together and create a searchable database of all prior project submissions, as a first step. In fact, I’m actively pushing the idea of creating our own software and database on this count so that we don’t have to pay the Rs. 1 lakh fee per year that professional software providers such as Turnitin charge. But there are clear limits to this, and a machine/software cannot replace the “human element”. A large part of the anti-plagiarism strategy will depend on how careful the concerned faculty member is in reading the student submission and scrutinising it for plagiarised passages. Also a determination of what amount of “copying” amounts to plagiarism is often fact specific and cannot be performed by a software. Universities also need to evolve broad guidelines on this count. Lastly, we really have to engage with students, speak to them and help them understand that this is unethical and that these short cuts will harm them in the long run.


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