Saturday, August 04, 2018

Taking notes from a lecture, or copying notes; is this plagiarism?

There was an odd post on (alleged) plagiarism by police recruits in Cleveland, Ohio. Relevant text:

An investigation is underway into 15 Cleveland police recruits following alleged irregularities involving plagiarism found in their Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) required notebooks.

The notebooks are required by the police academy and are used to take the final exam the cadets need to pass in order to become sworn officers, a police source said. Each cadet is required to take notes during class and then transfer their notes to an OPOTA notebook. The class notebooks are regularly inspected by instructors.

The investigation was ordered when the notebooks were inspected and signs of plagiarism were found, according to a police source. Details surrounding what was allegedly plagiarized were not released.

If the recruits were making notes from the same class, one would infer that the notes would necessarily bear substantial similarity, even if the recruits took the notes independently. And, in taking notes, all the recruits are basically copying from the lecture. Is this the kind of "plagiarism" we want to punish?



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